By Thomas Oppong
Book Of Dreams
Your life is your creation. You have most things you need to shape it and make it incredible. It’s not something that happens to you — unless you abandon your position as its chief architect. If you think your life is out of your control, it’s because you’ve chosen to relinquish the controls.
Your life will improve the moment you realize life isn’t something to be endured or tolerated. It’s an experience of your own creation. If your life sucks, it’s because you’ve been a sucky creator. But you can get better.
Getting unstuck is about making simple decisions and taking actions, always moving away from what you don’t want and towards what you want. If you don’t know what you want, then just move away from what you don’t want until you figure it out.
You are immensely resilient. Even when you’re in seemingly hopeless situations, we can still dig yourself out and make something better of it. These mindsets can radically improve your success and make you a stronger person.
1. Self discovery is a process
“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” ― Aristotle
Life and living it is all about the journey. When you follow your own true north you create new opportunities, have different experiences and create a the life you want.
Simply sitting back and letting things happen doesn’t yield the quality of life you aspire. Most people’s lives are still not perfectly clear.
It’s a struggle almost every adult goes through. “What do I want to do with my life?” “What do I not suck at?” Millions of people have no clue what they want to do with themselves. And that’s okay.
No assessment is going to provide you with immediate clarity and sense of purpose. Seeking clarity in uncertain times can be a daunting experience, and it can be very stressful if the solutions you seek don’t appear when you need them.
Make no mistake, self-discovery is a journey!
There’s no better feeling than suddenly becoming clear on something that had previously been a road block in your life. Those “aha!” moments are a real blessing when they come. “The only journey is the one within.” says Rainer Maria Rilke.
Curiosity, being open to explore the unknown, ready to embrace the surprises that come along the way, are essential attitudes for self-discovery and for gaining clarity about your own life purpose.
2. You alone are responsible for your life
“Define success on your own terms, achieve it by your own rules, and build a life you’re proud to live.” — Book Of Dreams
The first and the greatest courage in life is the courage to take responsiblity for own life. Like it not, you alone are responsible for the person you are today.
Bob Moawad says this about taken ownership of your life:
“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours — it is an amazing journey — and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins.”
This shift in mindset isn’t easy, but it can help you take control of your own success. It can help you do better at work, develop stronger and more positive relationships, improve your personal productivity and satisfaction.
You already have this ability and the responsibility for your life. Everyone does. But most us aren’t willing to accept that we alone have the power to live our lives how we want it.
The most important thing you need is the mindset of commitment and ownership to a result before you set out to do something, whether it’s to get through your day or start a project!
Stop blaming your problems and failures — big or small — on the people around you. Stop using “circumstances beyond my control” as the scapegoat for your own choices, decisions, behaviours, and actions. Be accountable for your actions.
Adopt a mindset of taking more responsibility in your life. Take control of your own success right now!
3. Life isn’t perfect: not everything goes as planned
A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing. — George Bernard Shaw
There is no such thing as perfect. The perfect outcome can sometimes elude you. You won’t achieve every goal. But it’s important to make plans and move on. Spend just as much time learning what to do when things inevitably stray off your path as you do to create the plan in the first place.
Landon Donovan says “Life isn’t perfect, of course, but we all know it’s how you react to things that counts.”
Your best strategy when making a plan is to make contingency plans for the inevitable result that life will not unfold according to plan.
Your plans for tomorrow, next month or next year may not unfold as you expect. Don’t be crippled by your failures. Don’t stop trying. If you know that changes to your plan are inevitable, it is best to seek them out and adapt when necessary.
Life is unpredictable. And that’s okay. Embrace it. Always be ready for change. It’s what makes life so interesting.
When nothing is certain, everything is possible!
4. Every obstacle is the way forward
“I will persist until I succeed. Always will I take another step. If that is of no avail I will take another, and yet another. In truth, one step at a time is not too difficult. I know that small attempts, repeated, will complete any undertaking.” — Og Mandino
You will come across obstacles in life — fair and unfair.
And you will discover, time and time again, that what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure.
You will learn that this reaction determines how successful we will be in overcoming — or possibly thriving because of — them.
On Dec. 10, 1914, a massive explosion erupted in West Orange, New Jersey. Ten buildings in legendary inventor Thomas Edison’s plant, which made up more than half of the site, were engulfed in flames. Machinery worth millions and all the papers pertaining to his lifelong research were burnt to ashes.
Later, at the scene of the blaze, Edison was quoted in The New York Times as saying, “Although I am over 67 years old, I’ll start all over again tomorrow.”
Thomas Edison’s persistence was exemplified in his famous quote, “Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.”
A.H. Wilson, his vice president and general manager, told The Times after the flames died down: “There’s only one thing to do, and that is to jump right in and rebuild.”
In his book, “The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph, Ryan Holiday writes:
“We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.”
People who persist no matter the obstacles, sooner or later are bound to succeed. Despite the setbacks, it’s in your best interest to turn obstacles into stepping stones. Don’t choose to complain, or worse, to just give up. These choices do nothing to get you across the finish line.
Elbert Hubbard once made a profound statement about the importance of not given up. She said “A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”
The obstacle in your path is the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.
5. Everything in life is a journey
Life is a journey and it’s about growing and changing and coming to terms with who and what you are and loving who and what you are. — Kelly McGillis
If you are not putting your 100% energy, effort and time into any process, progress will be slow or not happen at all.
Our minds are a bit funny, full of cognitive biases that have been shaped overtime by experiences, events, and memories. Over time, your beliefs can cause your brains to draw false conclusions about life that affects the way you think, and the decisions you make.
Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” said:
“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”
You don’t always need the perfect plan. Sometimes you just need to give it a try, let go, and see what happens. That’s courage. Action begets outcome. Outcome begets action. Rinse, lather and repeat and you have momentum. You’ll become unstoppable.
You have more than one shot to create the life you want!
I have screwed up many, many times in the past, but I have moved on. You’re going to make your own, and that’s okay so long as you learn from them and figure out a different path towards the same goal.
The biggest screw up you can make is to just give up and accept that you can’t succeed because of you who you are or where you come from. If you are going through hell, don’t stop. And if you catch hell, don’t hold it.
6. It’s okay to suck at most things in the beginning!
“A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” — Pablo Sarasate
You don’t have to be great to start anything you care about. But you have to start right now if you want to be great at some point in your career. The decision to start is the most important step you can ever take to be the best in the world at what you want to do. Your first book, post, podcast, app, real business meeting, interview, pitch will not be great. But don’t let that get the best of you.
Mary Tyler Moore once said “Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.”
Most people quit the moment they experience that first dissapointment. It’s a test. You have to fight your way through. That’s what matters. A few people stick around until they get it right. In fact, you rarely get it right in the beginning.
I still suck at writing. I didn’t even like writing. But I like the process. It feeds my curiosity. But guess what, I have never stopped reading and practicing. I love to share my imperfections. I can only become better with practice. I value the process.
The greatest impediment to creativity is our impatience, the almost inevitable desire to hurry up the process, express something, and make a quick splash. If you want to be the best at anything, you need to be the best at practicing more than anyone else. The value of practice can have profound effects on your career.
When we start to believe that we can do no wrong, we lose the edge that keeps us alert and open to new opportunities for growth.
When you practice something — anything — you improve, you grow, you advance, you gain a skill and heaps of confidence in the process, because you get better with time.
7. Done is better than perfect
“Strive for continuous improvement, instead of perfection.” — Kim Collins
The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists. It rewards people who get things done. Being perfect is not important, but getting the job done matters.
Professor Tracey Wade of the School of Psychology at Flinders University in South Australia defines “unhealthy perfectionism” as “high standards combined with brutal self-criticism.” It’s the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.
Give yourself time in your life to wonder what’s possible and to make even the slightest moves in that direction. Following through and finishing things is one of the most important things you can learn.
You will screw up in the process but it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for making a mistake or making a wrong choice. It will only lead to self destructive behaviour.
It’s okay to screw up as long as you are willing to try again. Non- conformists and originals screw up a lot. But they move on, knowing that at some point, the breakthrough will happen.
No matter how many mistakes you make, or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.
Always remember that good enough and done are better than perfect.