I was having a conversation with a friend the other day who said that we all have equal opportunity to be successful and that those who aren’t successful are not working hard enough or just don’t want it bad enough. Of course I believe everyone has the right to their own opinion but I’d just like to point out that there is a plethora of statistical evidence that proves without a doubt that we all do not have equal opportunity to be successful…
At the same time, “success” is a abstract concept and what it means to achieve it varies from person to person. So for the purposes of this conversation, I’d say a “successful” person is someone who has their basic needs met (food, home, income security, and strong social connections) and who is looking to build upon this foundation usually by climbing the social influence ladder or the financial ladder. Without delving deep into a black hole of civil inequalities, I’d argue that you must have these basic needs met before you can climb any ladder, otherwise you aren’t working towards striving in life, you are only just surviving.
Here’s the thing…
There are many people out there who do have all their basic needs met and the potential to be successful, but aren’t. The people that I’m referring to are the ones that have all the tools but they haven’t set themselves up for success. In short, they haven’t focused their time and resources into developing and maintaining habits that lead to positive outcomes.
If you are one of those people…
Fear not. If you think of life in it’s simplest form, it is just a series of actions. Actions done over and over again become automatic, or in other words, they become habits. Changing your habits can change your life. Someone who quits smoking can clear their lungs in a few years, changing their life course. If they take it a step further they can invest the money they used to spend on cigarettes and move the needle even further.
Start with visualization. Visualization is just a fancy way of saying you believe in yourself (as they say, seeing is believing!). I wrote an entire post on visualization and what it means, but I’m not sure I made it clear enough that visualization on its own is not enough— hence why it’s only one step. The trouble is that it’s extremely difficult to change behavior, will power alone just won’t do it, you need to develop habits that will move the needle.
10 Things You can do RIGHT NOW to get moving.
- Gain Clarity – This is something I learned from performance coach, Brandon Burchard’s book High Performance Habits (Book review coming oh so soon!). To Brandon’s point, knowing what you want out of life is essential to being a high performer. If there is no clarity, the vision is blurred, and if the vision is blurred, so is the finish line.
- Call a friend – Sometimes we need a little help, and that’s what friends are for right? Picking up the phone and being able to have an honest conversation with your best friend or your sister or your dad, mom, brother, uncle, neighbor, etc, can be a great way to focus your thoughts and also gain some perspective (ergo why it’s so important to have the right people in your life!).
- Make a plan – If you’ve been here before, you know I love a good plan! They say that creating lists and plans are just tricks to make yourself feel productive, but there’s no better feeling than checking something off a list as done. First things first, you have to create the plan.
- Set an alarm – I’m the type of person who will not remember where I put my phone down two minutes ago. It’s impossible for me to remember deadlines and appointments, so I have several alarms, on several devices to keep me on track! Set an alarm now to wake up early tomorrow and get something done!
- De-clutter – Clear space, clear mind. I know some people say they are naturally “messy,” but that is just not conducive to productivity and healthy habits. Giving yourself an extra ten minutes a day to tidy up can make a world of difference and potentially help you de-clutter your mind as well.
- Meditate – Another way to declutter your mind and also calm anxiety and stress is to mediate. Set your thoughts free, as they say! (Has anyone ever actually said that about meditation?)
- Exercise – Get your body MOVING! Physical health is a pillar of achieving excellence. You don’t have to be an olympic swimmer or a competitive bodybuilder, but you should get that lazy behind off the couch and move!
- Find a Mentor – Anyone who is serious about accomplishing their goals will invest in a mentor. Whether that’s a monetary investment in a life coach or spending more time with the right people, we could all use some encouragement and support in our lives.
- Stay Accountable – So you made a plan, now what? A good way to keep yourself accountable is to monitor your progress. I, for example, keep a daily record of the habits I want to incorporate into my everyday life. Things on my list include walking, writing, reading, meditating, and exercising. Every day I check off whether I’ve done one or more of my habits so there is no way of denying that I clearly haven’t worked out in two weeks (or a month)!
- Count your #Blessing – Sometimes we are so down in the weeds with our problems, we can’t remember being any other way. Gratitude is humbling, and it’s also a good reality check. When you are having a terrible day (or you’re living in 2020), it really helps to take a second and think about all the things you can be grateful for. Let’s take this moment for example, I am currently sitting in my backyard getting terrorized by mosquitos on this swam like DC summer night. BUT, I am thankful for having a backyard (hard to come by in DC), and I am thankful for my dog, Lucy, who hangs out with me in the backyard, and I am thankful for my landlords who let me share their backyard with them.