Once you know better, you can do better.
Angel and I receive dozens of amazing emails from amazing people every day. This morning I received three that truly blew me away. And while I won’t share these emails in their entirety with you, out of respect for each person’s privacy, I will share one small paragraph – a bite-sized story – from each that I know will make you think:
- “My mom is a healthy 55-year-old who successfully owns and operates a popular bakery downtown – a goal she’s had all her life. 15 years ago she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. In the face of possible death, she quit her store clerk job, opened the bakery, started chemo and radiation therapy, and succeeded on all fronts.”
- “This afternoon my teammate broke his right arm during our first game of the season. It was actually his first game in over two years, after his doctors told him that he would never play again due to knee surgery. This evening when I stopped by to see him I assumed he would be terribly upset. Instead he smiled and said, ‘That hour I spent on the field today was once only a dream.’”
- “Two of my ex-coworkers actually laughed at me last year when I told them I dreamed of opening my own hair salon. When I spoke with you and Angel on a coaching call that same afternoon, Angel said something like, ‘We’ve known quite a few people who went after their dreams and succeeded. One thing they all had in common was they got laughed at in the process.’ Well, I’m happy to say, I opened my salon six months ago and business is great!”
So what do you think? For me, above all, these stories remind me that living a rewarding life isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed, but it’s possible with the right attitude and drive, and worth every bit of effort you can muster.
So with this theme in mind, here are a few harsh truths that I hope will jolt you awake and motivate you to make changes – to do what it takes – to live your version of a great life:
- No one else can give you the exact answers you need to be happy and successful. – There are many important answers only you can give yourself, through firsthand experience and self-reflection. So stop listening to what the world says you should want. Start listening to who you are. Once you’re tuned-in to yourself, a time will come when you finally get it. When in the midst of life’s chaos and commotion you stop dead in your tracks and, from somewhere deep down, the voice inside your head cries out “ENOUGH!” This moment is the turning point that leads to happiness and success.
- The things we do right are often NOT the right things to do. – It’s always better to go slowly in the right direction than quickly in the wrong direction. Ask yourself if what you’re doing is moving you closer to where you want to be. Know that doing the right things is far more important than doing things right. There is nothing quite so wasteful as doing with great proficiency something that should not be done at all.
- The unhappiest folks are those who care the most about what everyone thinks. – Truth be told, you have nothing to prove and everything to be. Let the opinions of others inform you. Don’t let them limit you.
- The people you surround yourself with will make you or break you. – Surround yourself with positive people – positive influences. Let them serve as subtle, yet continuous reminders to be your very best.
- Being real and straightforward may not make you the most popular person in the room. – But it will make you the right friends and contacts.
- You will always be incredibly imperfect. – If you wait until you’re “perfect” before you share your stories, ideas, talents, and gifts with the world, no one will ever hear from you. (Read The Gifts of Imperfection.)
- The draw of comfort is the biggest dream killer. – In the end, you can be comfortable or courageous, but not both at once.
- You cannot change what you refuse to confront. – If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old. If you want something you’ve never had, then you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. The bottom line is that you’ll never leave where you are until you decide where you’d rather be. Don’t be afraid to start over and rebuild what you truly want.
- We all make choices, but in the end our choices make us. – Between what happened and what will happen is your choice. You are not a product of your circumstances; you are a product of your decisions. It’s about not letting your fear decide your future.
- The only path between wanting and having is doing. – There’s no getting around the need to take deliberate, focused action.
- Your dreams come true only when YOU make them come true. – And that’s precisely what makes them worth having and working hard for.
- Winners win not because they’re allowed to, but because they decide to. – Promise yourself something wonderful, and then do what it takes to fulfill that promise. You were born to be a success. Although to be successful, you must plan to be, prepare to be, expect to be, and work to be, every day. Success is not a secret. Success is a direction, a process, and a way of life.
- If achievement had no price, it would be of no value. – Pay the price. Do the work, and enjoy the rewards. It is far better to be exhausted from meaningful work than to be tired of doing nothing. Put in the effort and live the life you’ve imagined.
- Problems are part of every success story. – Life becomes more rewarding as it becomes more demanding. If you’re having problems, that’s good. It means you’re making progress. It means you’re learning and growing. The only people with no problems are the ones doing nothing.
- Focusing on petty problems is the greatest human addiction. – Break this habit. The negative things in life don’t need your help 24/7. Focus on your joys, your loves, and your goals instead. Give your energy to the positive sides of life – the opportunities – and take a step in the right direction. Big results in life and business are gained by noticing and exploiting good opportunities, not by finding and solving every petty problem. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Goals and Success” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Failures are inevitable and necessary. – Failure should be your teacher, not your attacker. Failure is a lesson, not a loss. It is a temporary, necessary detour, not a dead end.
- In life, what you want and what you get are rarely perfectly congruent. – In the end, after all is said and done, what’s meant to be will come your way, and what’s not will fall away. Just remember that life’s greatest gifts may not always be wrapped the way you expect.
- You are exactly where you’re supposed to be at this very moment. – Even if things aren’t the way you want them to be. Even if there’s more to do or undo. Even if you feel like you need to start over from scratch. Every experience and step is necessary.
- You can’t change yesterday, but you can ruin today by worrying about tomorrow. – Be present. Focus. Tomorrow will reveal itself exactly as it should.
- When you spend your time worrying and over-thinking everything, you’re simply using your imagination to create things you don’t want. – Nuff said.
- You can’t live a positive life with a negative attitude. – The most underrated trait of all successful people I’ve ever met: Positivity. Your attitude directly determines how well you live your life. (Read Authentic Happiness.)
- Life changes constantly, and often unpredictably. – Yes, life changes, but so can you. If you’re being pulled in every direction by forces beyond your control, take time to breathe and realign yourself with what you value most in life. Have the courage to make a necessary change when you must, the strength to see it through, and faith that everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to be.
Life is tough sometimes. There’s so much you simply can’t control, but you have to let these things GO. Do not let what is out of your control interfere with all the things you can control. Be positive. Focus on the important steps you CAN take today, and go for it! No regrets. No looking back. Just hold on to life and move forward confidently.
We have no way of knowing exactly what lies over the horizon, but that’s what makes the journey even more exciting – that’s what makes today the most important day of your life. Make it count!
The floor is yours…
Which of the points in this post do you sometimes struggle with? How have you coped? What other truths have you learned that have helped you live well? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts and insights.
Photo by: Ares Nguyen