1. Think astronomically.
What dissuades us from thinking big is the fear that we’ll seem naive, or that if we set the bar too high, we will be setting ourselves up to fail.
The truth is that when we think astronomically, we are being naive, we are being unrealistic, and we will absolutely fail. None of this matters, though, because when we start questioning the limits of what’s possible, we increase our effort, we heighten our standards, and we start reaching for more.
You should make your goals so big, you have no idea how you will achieve them.
This is the place where innovation is born. This is where we start stepping out of our comfort zone and into our actual potential.
No, we will not achieve the majority of the astronomical goals we set, but what we do achieve will be far greater than what we would had we set the bar lower.
2. Create choices.
The greatest thing you can do for yourself right now is to create choices.
We imagine that getting ourselves set up with one job, one profession, one income stream or one potential life path will make us feel settled and secure, but it often has the opposite effect.
When we fail to create choices, we limit ourselves and create a lot of stress because we understand that if anything were to go wrong with the one thing we’ve invested our time, energy and life into, we’d be screwed.
Groom your résumé, always be networking, look into alternative income streams, side gigs and businesses, passion projects and options. If one thing falls through, it’s a disappointment, not a complete crisis.
3. Seek out reasons to feel good about yourself.
Authentic self-esteem is the antidote to an inflated, unhealthy ego.
Every day, wake up and actively think of reasons why you should feel good about who you are and where you’re at. Think of the dreams you’ve accomplished that were once the pinnacle of your ambitions, think of everything you thought you’d never get through and now have, think of what you’ve set up, what you’ve created.
Think of the simple things, like your home and your friends. Think of the bigger things, like your degrees or your career. Recall a time when you thought having your own home or apartment would be the biggest accomplishment; when all you wanted was to finish school; when you longed for the connections you have now.
It’s important that you connect to reasons you genuinely feel good about yourself, not ways in which others may perceive you as enough. Playing the comparison game where you inflate your ego by imagining how awesome other people might see you is always one you lose.
4. Ask more questions about other people than you answer about yourself.
This not only makes other people feel important, it’s an incredible way to remain a student of life.
Everyone — yes, everyone—has something to teach you.
When you think of other people this way, you start to remove delusions of inferiority and superiority. This actually helps you feel better about yourself, because you begin to realize the unique gift that every person brings to the world. In seeing that, you have more acceptance of your weaknesses, because you realize you do not need to be good at everything.
5. Affirm, then act.
Every person has an unconscious narrative.
At times, glimpses of this narrative enter our consciousness.
Once in a while, we hear ourselves repeating the same thoughts, again and again. What we don’t realize is that they are running even when we aren’t aware of it.
These thought often cohere into beliefs over time.
Whatever you believe is true about yourself is what you will make true about yourself.
The way you actually shift those ideas is by consciously entering new thoughts into your mind. This means that you have to actively and continuously not only tell yourself what you want to believe, but back it up with proof.
It does not serve us to simply wish we are great and happy and well and then have absolutely no evidence of it. In fact, it creates a state of sustained delusion, when our ideas about our lives are not quite reflective of the actual reality of our lives.
We can alter this by affirming, then acting.
We chant the affirmation we want to be true, then we take action to make it true.
6. Use the power of your voice.
Record yourself repeating what you would like to be true about yourself and your life. Listen to it first thing when you wake up and then last thing before you go to bed.
Dr. Shannon Irvine, a neuropsychiatrist, explains that doing this is the most powerful way to rewire your brain. It’s one thing to hear someone else tell you something positive, it’s a whole different level to hear yourself tell you.
Doing this first thing in the morning and before bed is intentional — it’s so that the ideas more deeply seep into your subconscious mind.
7. Reflect on your past and identify the faults in your thinking.
Often, we dwell on past events and feel remorse for how we looked or felt. This provokes an intense emotional reaction, and then we sort of allow that feeling to simmer until it passes, gradually becoming more and more helpless, and regretful, over time.
It’s far more beneficial for us to look back on the past and identify the faults in our thinking that got us into certain situations in the first place. Most people do not do this, and therefore, use negative emotions to try to train themselves not to behave that way again.
Bullying and punishing yourself into compliance isn’t going to work.
It’s going to make you feel more scared, more upset, and more frustrated — which makes you more inclined to act in a way that is out of accordance with your best interest.
Instead, identify the insecurities, painful experiences or misleading beliefs that lead you to that situation in the first place.
Correcting the thinking will correct the problem.
8. Understand your strongest motivations.
To understand yourself, you need to know what your motivations are.
Are you motivated by competition? Being attractive? Remaining connected to others? Money? Freedom? Understanding? Awakening? Inner peace?
Your motivations are the core reason you do anything you do. These will always override even your best intentions and resolutions. You do not need to try to talk yourself out of your motivations, you just need to understand them so you can work with them better.
Use your motivations to your advantage.
9. Reconnect with your personal power.
To do this, you have to remember that you are always in control of your behavior.
No emotion, no event, no person and no circumstance that can control the way you behave — and there are very few, and very rare exceptions to this. Though they do exist, they are not the standard.
Emotions can make you feel as though there is no other choice.
Other people can make you feel as though there is no other choice.
Circumstances can make you feel as though there is no other choice.
There is always a choice, and remembering this is also the act of reclaiming your power.
10. Interrogate your emotions.
Emotions are valid, but not always real.
This means that what you are always feeling is certainly legitimate, but not always reflective of reality.
What you must do is deeply question persistent feelings that arise.
Ask where this feeling came from, and what it wants to tell you. Get clarity on what you feel and why. Keep digging until you uncover the roots, the true intentions, and the complete honest truth of what you feel.
Often, emotions persist when they are misunderstood, and they are almost always misunderstood if they aren’t questioned.
11. Interrogate your beliefs.
Your beliefs are different than your subconscious narrative or even your emotions in that they are typically conscious. You usually know what you believe, and accept it as absolute truth and fact.
However, not all beliefs serve us.
Many we adopt over time and out of survival, without too much critical thought about whether or not we actually agree with them.
What you can do instead is write down what you think is true about life, and then question until you understand where you came up with that belief, and what evidence you have to believe it.
If you realize that the belief was a product of your authentic experience and helps you cope, adapt and move forward in life — great.
If you realize that the belief was just taken on from your environment and is not helping you cope, adapt or move forward in life — that might be something to explore.
12. Live beneath your means.
We like to pretend that money is nothing because it isn’t everything, but you try and feel “fulfilled” if you’re worrying about how to pay your mortgage.
The truth is that we have to take care of our base needs before we can deal with issues like self-actualization and happiness.
Adopting clear and simple money principles — such as the commitment to live beneath your means no matter what — will help you do this.
13. Open multiple income streams.
Similarly, people have just recently began openly discussing the importance (and popularity) of not just relying on one job or income to sustain you.
With the Internet and our hyper-connectedness, there is an abundance of opportunity to invest, sell or start your own side business. On top of that, you’ll feel a lot more at ease knowing that you are not relying on one job or position to pay you.
14. Remember the Pareto principle.
80 percent of your outcomes will come from 20 percent of your actions.
80 percent of your time is spent doing 20 percent of activities.
80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your clientele.
80 percent of your happiness comes from 20 percent of your life.
The Parent principle, or the 80/20 rule, reminds us that if we want to make a change or adjustment in our lives, we are far better off spending time focusing on the 20 percent of actions that create the 80 percent of our contentment, as opposed to the other way around.
15. Remember that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
Whenever you begin to feel overwhelmed, remember that there is nothing as powerful as true and complete simplicity.
Simplicity is elegance, it is intelligence, and it is sophistication.
This applies to everything from what you wear to what you eat to the work that you do.
It takes genius to create simplicity.
Anyone — and everyone — can manufacture chaos.
16. Figure out your non-negotiables.
This is a question you need to be able to answer:
What would I most regret if I got to the end of my life and didn’t do?
These are your non-negotiables.
It is important to be aware of these because it is very (very) easy to forget about them until it is too late.
If your non-negotiable is a lot of down time, you need to prioritize that. If it’s family, you need to prioritize that. If it’s travel, you need to prioritize that.
Your life must reflect what you most fundamentally want — in whatever way you can make that possible. If not, you’ll end up very disappointed.
17. Try a minimalist mindset.
No matter what you are struggling with, a minimalist mindset can help you better manage.
This is because it simplifies what’s complicated, and puts you back in control.
Exercise? Money? Relationships?
A minimalist mindset can help every single one of them.
Make an extremely simple budget by listing your most basic expenses. Adhere to 3 money principles: live below your means; create more streams of income; pay off debt.
Commit to an extremely simple exercise routine, even just 10 minutes of a HIIT workout in the morning is enough to acclimate movement into your routine.
Understand that the principles of a relationship are two things: show up, and be kind. If you can try to do both of those things within your closest relationships, you should see very positive outcomes.
The point is that there is almost nothing that a more simplistic approach cannot help.
18. Forgive yourself.
Everyone has regrets.
Everyone has made mistakes.
Everyone has behaved not as their best selves.
This does not make you broken, it makes you human.
You need to forgive yourself — not necessarily because you deserve to be absolved of every misdeed you’ve ever committed, but because doing so is your only chance at actually changing.
And changing is the only way we can actually make up for it anyway.
19. Don’t let your ego eclipse your potential.
To make a change in our lives, we often have to first admit that something isn’t quite right.
This part is hard.
This part is challenging.
This part requires us to part with our egos, our attachments, our idea that what is right in front of us might always be right in front of us, and therefore, we can settle in.
The truth is that when we do this, we allow our egos to get in the way of our potential.
Instead of getting attached to circumstances, get attached to the things that are unconditional, the things that are within you no matter what.
This will help you move forward, and continue growing.
20. Identify your final destination.
You don’t need to know where you’ll be in 20 years.
You don’t even need to know where you’ll be in 5.
However, you do need an overall, general objective for your life.
That might be to fulfill your purpose, feel at peace, find real happiness, or spend as much time as possible with the people you love.
If you do not know where you’re headed, you’ll spend the next however many decades driving in circles and wondering why you’re not getting anywhere.
21. Build the ladder.
Once you have identified where you want to be, the next thing you need to do is build the ladder, which really means that you need to identify the sequential steps to arrive there.
You are probably not going to leap from where you are right now to where you want to be in one, single decision.
It’s going to be a series of choices you make that ultimately allow you to arrive at where you want to be.
Point A is where you are.
Point Z is where you want to be.
Now you get to fill in the rest.