Every day is a new beginning. But in life, sometimes you have to stop before you can truly begin. So starting today…
Stop caring about everyone’s opinion of you.
For the most part, what other people think and say about you doesn’t matter. When I was younger I let the opinions of my high school and early college peers influence my decisions. And at times they steered me away from ideas and goals I strongly believed in. I realize now, many years later, that this was a foolish way to live, especially when I consider that nearly all of these people whose opinions I cared so much about are no longer a part of my life.
Unless you’re trying to make a great first impression (job interview, first date, etc.), don’t let the opinions of others stand in your way. What they think and say about you isn’t important. What is important is how you feel about yourself. Read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Stop caring about being politically correct.
I had a discussion with a friend yesterday about censorship and how speaking a certain way simply to please others contributes to the loss of one’s true inner voice. During the discussion I watched him closely, and I could actually pinpoint the heated moment when he was about to give me a piece of his mind, but stopped himself. It was so obvious! So I called him out on it. “You just censored yourself, didn’t you?” He laughed and nodded.
Everyone has this little watchdog inside their head. It’s always there watching you. It was born and raised by your family, friends, coworkers, bosses and society at large, and its sole purpose is to watch you and make sure you stay in line. And once you become accustomed to the watchdog’s presence, you begin to think his opinion of what’s acceptable and unacceptable are absolute truths. But the watchdog’s views are not truths, they’re just opinions – forceful opinions that have the potential to completely brainwash you of your own opinions if you aren’t careful.
Remember, the watchdog is just a watchdog, he just watches. He can’t actually control you. He can’t do anything about it if you decide to rise up and go against the grain.
No, you should not start randomly cussing and acting like a fool. But you must say what you need to say when you need to say it. If it isn’t politically correct, so what.
Don’t censor yourself. Speak the truth. Your truth.
Stop caring about looking a certain way.
There is no right way to dress or right way to wear your hair. No, I’m not saying to you should dress like a clown simply to rebel either. Everyone who purposely tries to look different ends up looking the same.
Be you, just the way you are, in the unique way only you know how. Wear clothes and styles you feel comfortable wearing. Dress the way YOU dress.
You’re a one of a kind. Trying to look like someone else is a waste of your own beauty. In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, find the courage to keep being your awesome self.
Stop caring about what everyone else wants for you.
Unfortunately, just before you take your first step on the righteous journey to pursue your dreams, people around you, even the ones who deeply care for you, will usually give you awful advice. It’s not because they have evil intentions. It’s because they don’t understand the big picture – what your dreams, passions and life goals mean to you. They don’t understand that, to you, the reward is worth the risk.
So they try to protect you by shielding you from the possibility of failure, which, in effect, also shields you from the possibility of making your dreams a reality.
As our friend Steve Jobs says:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Stop caring about the boundaries others set up.
No matter how much progress you make there will always be the people who insist that whatever you’re trying to do is impossible. Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea or dream as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares. When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them. Instead, forget that they exist. They will only waste your time and energy.
Try what you want to try. Go where you want to go. Follow your own intuition. Don’t accept false choices. Don’t let others put a cage around you. Definitely don’t listen to the watchdog.
Whenever somebody discredits you and tells you that you can’t do something, keep in mind that they are speaking from within the boundaries of their own limitations. Ignore them and press on. Read The Success Principles.
Stop caring about what everyone else has.
When you catch yourself comparing yourself to a colleague, neighbor, friend, or someone famous, stop! Realize that you are different, with different strengths – strengths these other people don’t possess. Take a moment to reflect on all the awesome abilities you have and to be grateful for all the good things in your life.
The problem with many of us is that we think we’ll be happy when we reach a certain level in life — a level we see others operating at – your boss with her corner office, that friend of a friend who owns a mansion on the beach, etc. Unfortunately, it takes awhile before you get there, and when you get there you might have a new destination in mind.
Instead, appreciate where you are and what you have right now. Try comparing yourself to those who have less, those who are dealing with tragedy, and those who are struggling to survive. Hopefully it opens your eyes to all the things you should be grateful for.
Stop caring about the imaginary state of perfect.
Perfect is the enemy of good.
Many of us are perfectionists in our own right. I know I am at times. We set high bars for ourselves and put our best foot forward. We dedicate copious amounts of time and attention to our work to maintain our high personal standards. Our passion for excellence drives us to run the extra mile, never stopping, never relenting. And this dedication towards perfection undoubtedly helps us to achieve results… So long as we don’t get carried away.
But what happens when we do get carried away with perfectionism?
We become disgruntled and discouraged when we fail to meet the (impossibly high) standards we set for ourselves, making us reluctant to take on new challenges or even finish tasks we’ve already started. Our insistence on dotting every ‘I’ and crossing every ‘T’ breeds inefficiency, causing major delays, stress overload and subpar results.
True perfectionists have a hard time starting things and an even harder time finishing them… always. I have a friend who has wanted to start a graphic design business for several years. But she hasn’t yet. Why? When you sift through her extensive list of excuses it comes down to one simple problem: She is a perfectionist. Which means she doesn’t, and never will, think she’s good enough at graphic design to own and operate her own graphic design business.
Remember, the real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. And the only way to get things done is to be imperfect 99% of the time. Only by wading through years of practice and imperfection can we begin to achieve momentary glimpses of the perfection.
So make a decision. Take action. Learn from the outcome. And repeat this method over and over and over again in all walks of life. Also, check out Too Perfect. It’s an excellent read on conquering perfectionism.
Stop caring about being right all the time.
We all dance to the beat of a different drum. There are few absolute ‘rights’ and ‘wrongs’ in the world. What’s right for you may be wrong for me, and vise versa. People need to live their lives their way – the way that’s right for them.
When it comes to life choices and opinions, not much is worth fighting about. Step back from arguments with your spouse, family members or neighbors. When you feel anger surging up and you want to yell that vulgar remark on tip of your tongue, just close your mouth and walk away. Let your mind calm down. You don’t have to be right or win an argument.
Instead, open your mind to new ideas and opinions. Don’t just concentrate on what others are doing, spend time figuring out why they are doing what they’re doing.
Stop caring about mistakes.
Mistakes teach you important lessons. The biggest mistake you can make is doing nothing because you’re too scared to make a mistake. So don’t hesitate – don’t doubt yourself. In life, it’s rarely about getting a chance; it’s about taking a chance. You’ll never be 100% sure it will work, but you can always be 100% sure doing nothing won’t work. Most of the time you just have to go for it!
And no matter how it turns out, it always ends up just the way it should be. Either you succeed or you learn something. Win-Win. Remember, if you never act, you will never know for sure, and you will be left standing in the same spot forever.
Stop caring about things you can’t control.
Some forces are out of your control. Accept this fact of life. Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation.
The smartest thing you can do to compensate for the things you can’t control is adjusting your attitude. Your attitude has a profound effect on your overall potential. Consuming yourself with the negative aspects of a circumstance gets nothing productive accomplished. But if you instead look at the circumstance productively and positively, coming from the standpoint of “What’s my next best move?” you put yourself back in the driver’s seat.
Bottom line: As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” You can’t change what happened, but you can change how you react to it. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right. The opposite is also true. The choice is yours to make.
Photo by: Iko