Practical Tips for Productive Living
In life you get just about as many chances as you're willing to take.
Almost two decades ago, when I told my grandmother I was worried about taking a chance and regretting my choice, she hugged me and said, “Trust me, honey, that's not what you're going to regret when you're my age. If anything, you will likely kick yourself a little for not taking more chances on the infinite number of opportunities you have today."
And the older I get, the more I realize how right my grandmother was. Life is about trusting yourself and taking chances, losing and finding happiness, learning from experience, appreciating the memories, and realizing that every step is worth your while… But you've got to be willing to take each step. You've got to give yourself a fair chance.
So here are some chances I would take if I were you – chances I have taken that I know you will not regret:
- Trusting your intuition on new opportunities. – Life is too short to wait. Every new day is another chance to change your life. Every great accomplishment starts with the decision to try. Trust that little voice inside your head that says, “What if…" and then GO DO IT. Give yourself a fair chance. You would be surprised how often “what if" works. And no, you're not obligated to win every time. You're obligated to keep trying – to do the best you can do every day – to improve upon what you learned yesterday.
- Believing in your own abilities. – You have everything you need within you to become the best possible version of yourself. Believe that you CAN. Believe that you're capable of pushing harder and farther than you have before. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, smart enough and strong enough to achieve your goals. Don't let false beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself. And certainly don't get sidetracked by other people who are not on track.
- Making moves in the face of fear. – It's often difficult to grow into your greatest self, but it's a tragedy to let the lie of fear stop you. So realize right now that fear doesn't exist anywhere except in your head. Be courageous. Go after your goals. Never let your fear steer your present or decide your future. And remember, courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is far more important than fear. (Read Start: Punch Fear in the Face.)
- Taking a step forward today. – You will be dead one day. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's true. The question is: Are you choosing to live right now? Take a moment and think about. Life doesn't start when “this, that, or the other thing" is resolved. This IS your time. Life is now. Do something with it. Don't wait it away.
- Making your goals a priority. – If you want to live a happy, fulfilling life, tie yourself to meaningful goals, not just to people and things. Never put off or give up on something that's important to you… not because you still have tomorrow to start or try again, but because you may not have tomorrow at all. Life is shorter than it sometimes seems. Make today count. Take just one small step a day. Approach the start of every day with one little goal and end the day with one little word. DONE!
- Working hard even when it hurts. – Remember, personal growth in all walks of life is a slow, steady process. It can't be rushed. You need to work on it gradually every day. There is ample time for you to be who you want to be in life. Don't settle for less than what you think you deserve, or less than you know you can be. Despite the struggles you'll inevitably face along the way, never give up on yourself. You're braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, smarter than you think, and twice as capable as you have ever imagined. Keep going.
- Upholding your standards. – What's dreadful is to pretend that second-rate is first-rate. To pretend that you don't need love and respect when you do. To lie to yourself and say everything is OK, when it isn't. Or to convince yourself that you like your work when you know darn well you're capable of much better. Bottom line: Love yourself enough to never lower your standards for the wrong reasons.
- Bouncing back after rejection or failure. – When you are rejected from something good, it often means you're being redirected to something better. Be patient. Be positive. And remember, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying. (Angel and I discuss this in detail in the “Adversity" chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
- Owning your situation. – Even when the going gets tough, own it! If you're struggling at a job you don't love, look at it this way: you're choosing to make a living to pay your mortgage, support your family, and fuel your dreams. Don't resist it; own it – that's where your power is. If you're in a relationship that's causing you pain, you're choosing to be in it. Maybe staying will lead to essential growth or a breakthrough or a deeper understanding of love. Or not. But you're choosing to be in or out, right now. Whichever you choose, own it – that's where your power is.
- Smiling anyway. – Don't let one bad moment ruin your day. Think of it as a bad minute, not a bad day, and you'll be OK. Stress begins when your worry list is longer than your gratitude list. Happiness begins when your gratitude list is longer than your worry list. So find something to be thankful for today. Be sure to appreciate what you've got. Be thankful for the little things in life that mean a lot.
- Being sincerely kind to everyone. – Kindness in words creates confidence and motivation. Kindness in thinking creates positivity and possibility. Kindness in giving creates strength and love. Through kindness you have the ability to make a profound difference in every life you touch, including your own. When you guide someone who is lost and confused, when you hold someone who is sad and grieving, when you hug someone who has lost all their hope, you too will feel yourself healing and growing stronger. So do your little bit of good right where you are, because it's these little bits of good put together that change the world.
- Helping others create a better life for themselves. – Who you affect is more powerful than who you are at any given moment. Because nothing is as enduring as a great memory. In the end, its only intangible ideas, concepts, beliefs, and feelings that last. Stone cracks. Wood rots. Skin dies. But great thoughts, beautiful experiences, and inspiring legends… they live forever. If you can change the way people think and feel, the way they see themselves, and the way they interpret the world, it means you can change the way they live their lives, and how they affect others. That is, by far, the longest lasting thing you can create.
- Living with integrity and honor. – Integrity is choosing your actions based on moral values rather than personal gain. It's about living honorably. It's about doing the right thing, no matter what, even when nobody's going to know whether you did it or not. At the end of the day, your reputation is what other people know about you. Your honor is what you know about yourself.
- Being weird in your own way. – We are all weird. Life is weird. And when we find weirdness in the world that makes us want to work hard, we call it passion. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we call it love. And if we zoom the lens way out, so we can see all the weird people of the world doing their thing, we realize being weird isn't that weird after all. It's human nature.
- Opening yourself to love. – Your greatest task isn't to find love, but to discover and eliminate all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. Even when you're afraid, keep trusting – keep your heart and mind wide open. Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of love. As you find the good that exists in others and situations, you discover the love that exists within you.
- Closing the door on old news. – Holding on to what's no longer there holds too many of us back. Some of us spend the vast majority of our lives recounting the past and letting it steer the course of the present. Don't waste your time trying to live in another time and place. Let it GO! You must accept the end of something in order to begin to build something new. So close some old doors today. Not because of pride, inability or egotism, but simply because you've entered each one of them in the past and realize that they lead to nowhere worth your while. (Read Loving What Is.)
- Taking time to simply BE where you are. – You will always be missing out on something. You simply can't have it all. Thus, it will always seem like something wonderful might be happening elsewhere. And that's OK. Let it go, and realize you have everything right now. The best in life isn't somewhere else; it's right where you are at this moment. You have to accept that some things will never be yours, and learn to value the things that are only yours.
- Putting yourself out there and truly LIVING. – To laugh often and love genuinely. To respect others and judge less. To win the affection and sincere smiles of children. To earn the regard of honest peers and endure the betrayal of fake friends. To appreciate the beauty surrounding you wherever you are, whenever you are. To find the good in people and situations. To give what you can and leave the world a little better than you found it. To have explored ideas and passions and sung at the top of your lungs in delight. To know that at least one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is what LIVING is all about.
The floor is yours…
What are some other chances worth taking in life? What's one chance you have taken that you know you will never regret? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Fovea Centralis
POST WRITTEN BY: MARC CHERNOFF