Don’t deny it. You want to improve. You want to make your life better and do something you enjoy.
Since long, you have been dreaming of it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what you want to do. You long for the feeling of fulfillment. Of being in control. You came here to do more than pay bills, retire and die, right? If you can find time, you will figure out what the ‘more’ is.
And yet, time is one thing you never get. Your tight schedule doesn’t permit you to breathe, forget learning something new. Life sucks!
Some people, on the other hand, do fulfilling things often. Not just that, they also rub it in your face by chronicling it publicly. That sucks even more.
People more successful than you should be pressed for time. More than you. Forever. And yet…
Where do those ‘lucky’ buggers find time?
I hate to break it to you. Time is not the differentiator. People living it up have the same twenty four hours like you.
The thing is, you see their highlight reel. And you compare it with your behind-the-scenes footage. Trust me, if you see their behind-the-scenes footage – their effort and determination – you will stand in awe.
But people you admire don’t follow rocket science (except Elon Musk and a handful others) to make life better. They do a few simple things, and do them well. Most importantly, they don’t let certain phrases get in their way. We, on the other hand, use these phrases every day.
If you want to make your life 1 percent better, just start with eliminating these seven phrases from your thoughts.
1. “It won’t matter”
Circumstances or time don’t often favor the person who does what you want to. The understanding that everything they do doesn’t have to matter, does.
The internet is filled with success stories of hustlers. It forces us to believe in ‘Go Big or Go Home’. But everything doesn’t have to be about success.
I started writing because I enjoyed it. Slowly, it turned into a skill which let me start working for myself. Do things because you enjoy them. Don’t worry about how much they matter now. You cannot tell when fun turns into a passion, and changes the course of your life!
2. “I must be perfect”
Making a mistake today is equated with failing. And even failure has led to expectations. I miss the days when it was okay to be imperfect. Wait! Those days never existed! The flawed pursuit of perfection has been around since the inception of human civilization.
This pursuit is flawed because it deprives you of the fun of learning. One bad experience and you shy away from trying again. One good experience and it becomes your textbook method of doing things. You become rigid.
The pursuit of perfection makes us incompetent. Life is dynamic. When situations change and our mindset doesn’t, we witness poor results. That causes frustration, from which comes low self esteem. Instead of perfection, pursue improvement. Do what makes you improve yourself from yesterday. Do what makes you happy. Happiness doesn’t follow success… it’s the other way round.
3. “It is difficult”
Everything worth striving for is difficult. If it were easy, everyone would do it. Yes, life is tough. But, the more you tell yourself that, the tougher it becomes.
Instead, take up the challenge. To be curious. To simplify what is difficult. To take it apart. Figure out how it works, like you learned your favorite subject at school. Cut out distractions. When something is tough, we try to escape. But studies prove that distractions add to stress. Do you need more stress in life?
Embrace confusion. It means you are going deeper. You are questioning perceptions (yours and others’), and will emerge with fresher ones. Then, what you do will excite you like a trampoline excites a toddler.
It’s not difficult. It’s challenging. And challenges are fun!
4. “They won’t like me”
Society has conditioned us to believe that approval of others is as important as oxygen! If someone criticizes us, it’s because we are wrong. If we say “no”, we are bad team players. Conflict must be avoided, even if we must silently endure while others enjoy at our expense.
Lies! Society is afraid of people who look at things differently. To cover for its own failures, it wants to fit you in a claustrophobic box. How would the world be if Steve Jobs cared about being likable, instead of doing what he loved?
Shun people who don’t accept you for who you are. Do what you want to anyway. Remember, short term pains yield long term gains. When results of your work become visible, the same people will broadcast how they believed in your ability and supported you all the way.
Stop giving a damn about what others think. Don’t be a sheep, be a shepherd. There are over a billion sheep. But the world always needs shepherds.
5. “I cannot afford the risk”
Of course you can. Everything that appeals to you, is worth the risk.
You don’t have to sell your house and pawn your mother’s jewelry to invest in your idea. Start small. Collect feedback. Connect with people. The internet offers many (free) options to achieve these aims.
In the end, you will have a good result, or a good lesson.
6. “I won’t succeed”
What is your yardstick of success? Is it money and fame? Or being better than you were yesterday?
Nobody starts off as a success. Overnight successes are a media-hyped myth. The Wright Brothers worked relentlessly for years before they became overnight successes on 17th December, 1903. Thomas Edison tried – and came up short – 1,000 (or 10,000) times before he invented the lightbulb.
Contrary to another lie of society, you have time. Failing once, twice, or ten times, doesn’t mean you are finished. With each failure come important lessons, which you can use to strengthen your next attempt.
7. “What will happen if….”
“Most of us are conditioned to escape into the past, into the future, into our to-do-lists – to wander off away from the present.” – Maria Popova
You know it’s not the right thing to do. Yet, you spend – no, burn – your time and energy letting your mind wander. You think about the moment that is gone, or one that is yet to come.
Mentally strong people, on the other hand, live in the present. When they find themselves traveling back or forward in time, they stop and ask themselves, “What can I do now to make my future better?”
Instead of asking yourself “what will happen if….”, implement lessons learned from the past in the present moment. They will assure you of success in the future.
You control your life. Of course your parents, colleagues, partner and friends can control it too, if you let them. But that’s not life. That’s a sham, an apology, of the most exquisite gift you were given.
Even the happiest people are shrouded in doubt and fear. More than you know. So don’t believe people who say they know how you should live your life. Discover it for yourself. Focus on becoming better than you were yesterday. A better salary will make you happy for some time. But self improvement will make you happy for life.
How do you want to be happy? The choice is yours. It always has been.