11. Read, Read, Read
Successful people exercise and nourish their minds in the same way that they exercise and nourish their bodies. So, time and effort invested in exercising and healthy eating, is matched by time and effort invested in developing and expanding the mind. You can do this too by putting aside a minimum of 30 minutes each day dedicated to reading. Start your day off with the newspaper, so you can catch up with rest of the world before you step out the door. End your day with some reading as well. You may choose to alternate between light and serious literature – just be sure that it is not meaningless drivel.
You must read widely in order to be successful. You must also read well-written works. The newspaper, publications related to your training, professional body or business area, fiction and non-fiction. The variety helps to broaden your perspective, as well as, to sharpen your mind. It refines your outlook, enabling you to better grasp the value of life’s complexities. You will become more creative, more equipped to understand the actions of others and make meaningful contributions to conversations on a wide range of topics.
Mental acuity is vital to the achievement success and reading helps in this respect. When you read particular sections of our brain are activated. This activity has been shown to sharpen the processes in the brain and slow the onset of degenerative cognitive illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease. Reading is also a well-known stress reliever. So curling with a good book at the end of the day is perfect for unwinding from the day’s highs and lows.
Read to sharpen your wit as much as to build your knowledge base.
12. Surround Yourself with A Support System
One common trait of highly successful and happy people is that they have a close-knit circle of family and friends. They start and end each day at home with those they love. People around them are not just there to lean on in times of hardship, they are also there to share in the joys of triumph. Remembering that happiness is often a precursor to success, you must put the greater purpose of connecting with your family above the attainment of money and material things.
There is no over-estimating the value of quality time spent with loved ones. It does not matter what activity you are engaged in together – a quiet board game or an afternoon rappelling – you are building and strengthening the bonds of your relationship. During these times you give your undivided attention to your spouse, children, parents, other family members or close friends. As you share yourself with these significant people in your life, you get to know them and yourself better.
them and yourself better. Family and loved ones provide encouragement and motivation you need to stick with the pursuit of your goals, especially at times when the future seems bleakest. For them to do this effectively, however, you must share your goals and aspirations with them. By sharing in this way, you are allowing your goals to be a part of every aspect of your life. In effect, you begin to live in your goals.
Another benefit of sharing your dreams, is that you now become more accountable for the actions you take as you move toward them. You strive a little harder because you do not wish to disappoint those you love. You more carefully consider decisions, taking into account how these will affect those around you.
Once your support system knows what you are aiming for, they not only offer words of encouragement, they also offer invaluable advice. They will not let you struggle alone and will render assistance in terms of time and effort, if you need it. Because they have different perspectives of any given situation, you get the advantage of seeing cause and effect from different angles. You will find that by sharing with them, you can tap into ideas and solutions that would not necessarily have come to you if you had kept you dreams to yourself.
You may be wary of sharing your goals because you do not wish to get too much input from too many sources. You feel you know what you want and you do not wish to have anyone suggest anything different to you. Thinking like that suggests that you are not confident in your chosen goals – that there is some measure of doubt. And that is exactly why you must share. Your loved ones know you, your strengths and your weaknesses very well. If they point out flaws in your plans, then that is an opportunity for you to focus on correcting those flaws.
Of course not all the criticism you get will be constructive, that is to be expected. Try to look past any negative comments and focus on opinions that are given in the spirit of helpfulness. You are more likely to get constructive criticism from those who share your outlook on life, family, work and success. Being able to accept their feedback on both your strengths and weaknesses is a sign of the strength of your own character.
Just as a support system is vital, it is equally important to be wary of persons who drag you down. Evaluate those around you: Are there persons who consistently belittle your efforts or complain about all aspects of their lives? These are persons to avoid, as they are toxic to your own outlook and your perception of what you can achieve. In other words, their negativity may start rubbing off on you.
Also, steer clear of those who routinely beg and borrow, each time coming up with a different excuse as to why they need hand-outs from you. These persons do not encourage the development of a sense of independence or the idea of living within your means – an invaluable trait to develop on the road to success.
Strengthening the bonds of love and friendship will strengthen your chances of achieving your goals.
13. Appreciate Others
Show kindness, love and concern to others. Simple courtesies shown to others do not take away from the energy you need to complete your goals. The opposite is, in fact, true. When you pleasantly greet those around you and are willing to extend a helping hand, you brighten the day (and perhaps live) of those you come in contact with. In the same vein, show gratitude for the considerations and assistance given to you, whether it comes from strangers or people you know. Everyone likes to know that their actions are appreciated, even if they acted without thinking of any kind of reward or return of the favour.
Take the time each day to look back at the things and people in your life that you need to be grateful for. A few minutes each morning spent on quietly appreciating the opportunities ahead, lightens your workload and makes tasks more doable. Similar time spent each night recollecting the actions of the people who assisted you, perhaps with just a kind word or a smile, helps you to appreciate the positive impact that others can have on your life. It also gives you the realization of the positive effects you can have on others. You will, over time, become less likely to let the opportunity to brighten someone else’s day pass you by.
Be mindful that your show of love, concern and kindness extends equitably to all. The company’s CEO and the lady who cleans the office are equally deserving of your charitable thoughts and actions, as well as your gratitude. Getting into the habit of mindful appreciation of those around you, allows you focus on their strengths and see the possibilities that lie within them. You no longer take them for granted, but value the input they make to your attainment of success, no matter how insignificant that input may seem.
In order to cultivate the habit of appreciation, you can begin by writing down the things you have to be thankful for. You may be pleasantly surprise realise how long a list you end up with! Add to your list each day, and in time the habit of appreciation will become ingrained in you. That habit brings with it the added benefit of seeing the world through the eyes of an optimist as opposed to those of a pessimist.
As you go about learning to show appreciation to others, do not forget to show appreciation to yourself. Striving for any goal is hard work and even small accomplishments need to be recognized. Give yourself a mental pat on the back. Look yourself squarely in the face (using a mirror, of course!) and say “Job well done” or “I am proud of you”. It will boost your self-esteem and encourage you to press on toward your goals.
Kindness and gratitude set you in good stead to achieve a life of abundance.
14. Learn To Let Go
Forgive, even when you cannot forget. Resentment and grudges weigh you down, making it harder for you to focus on and achieve your success. The act of holding a grudge saps your physical, mental and emotional energies. It also uses up valuable time that could be much better spent on realizing your dream. Focus instead of the things and people that matter. They are a much better use of your precious resources of time and effort.
It may become easier to forgive if you can remind yourself that you are not perfect either. Recall the times when you were inconsiderate, unappreciative or downright mean to others. Seeing the shoe on the other foot may just help you to step back and walk away from your feelings of hurt.
Perfect the habit of letting go each day. One way is to spend a few moments at night going over your day. Allow yourself to revisit situations that made you feel slighted or unappreciated. In retrospection, you may come to realise that you had the wrong impression of what happened or that it was a case of poor communication. Otherwise, try to let go of the incidents and any feelings of resentment you may be tempted to harbour.
Forgiveness must also be extended to yourself. So, make it a habit to let go of disappointments and failures and move on with your life.
Living in the past will in no way get you any closer to your goal.
15. Make It a Habit
Remember, achieving success and happiness is a dynamic thing, so you will always need to look back and review where you are coming from as you plan for the road ahead. The habits discussed here are meant to help you stay on that path to success and happiness. They are not hard and fast rules, but suggestions for you to shape into what works for you. When you do find something that works, stick with it, until it becomes an entrenched habit.
That said, you still need to be on the lookout for ways in which you can improve. Long term success must be achieved in stages. It is a dynamic process, requiring constant re-evaluation of where you are now and where you want to be. It doesn’t matter if you are aiming for material wealth, job satisfaction or security in your relationships. Stopping to take stock of what works and what doesn’t is essential because changes in your situation will affect what both happiness and success mean to you.
Success and happiness never happen overnight. You must prepare for and strive for them.