Success Part 1: Basics

Hey everyone! Hope you all are having a good week so far. I know most of my blog post have been related to food (and trust me… there will be more food posts), but this time I wanted to do something a little different. I am going to be doing a three part “series” on success with advice and tips.

I don’t think success is one specific thing that someone has to reach in order to be defined as successful. I mean of course we look at people with fancy cars and nice houses and think “wow they sure did well for themselves”. While being successful or living a successful life is a pursuit the majority of people strive for, what it looks like and how it’s done differs greatly from person to person. Each individual must decide what it means to be successful for him or her and begin working towards whatever their definition may be. And everything would work marvelously if things were as simple as that: find out what you define as success and just go do X, Y, Z, after which you will have reached the target. Unfortunately, life does not come with an instruction manual and things can go wrong – life can oftentimes take an unexpected turn causing life changes or setbacks, or you yourself change and therefore what you were doing before no longer works. Things happen. That being said, there are steps that you can take to help yourself and ultimately bring you closer to your personal success.

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The first step is to redefine success. It can include many areas of life, not one single aspect that means you either are successful or you are not. Success, in my eyes, comes via check-points where you can say to yourself “I have come this far, I am pleased with myself” or “I need to do just a little more [fill in the blank]” or “I did it! I am on the right track”.

To me, giving 100% effort to what you are doing, believing in yourself, and striving to be the best version of yourself are the criteria I judge my success on. In most cases, if you begin with something too broad, your mind is unable to generate a real, solid plan to get you there…because there isn’t one! However, if you begin thinking with smaller milestones, you will most likely wake-up one day and have one of those “wow…I have really done well” moments. Success is a compilation of milestones met, accomplishments achieved, and being happy with who you are. Regardless of how you define success, it is all about taking small steps that eventually get you to the big picture. Think of it as trying to cross a large grassy field. If you’re constantly starring forward during your walk you will only think “oh god, I still have such a long way to go”. But if you look down and see rocks, the green grass, flowers, or look to the sides and notice some cute animals, then eventually look up to find a blue sky and sunshine, and only look forward once in a while to check if you are going in the right direction, you will get there seemingly quicker and have a better time.

The most important thing to understand is that success is made up of habits. Healthy (good) habits that propel you toward your very best and nasty habits prevent you from being your best. As the rule goes: Good habits are difficult to form but easy to live with. Bad habits are very easy to form but are difficult to live with. The good news about habits is that they are all learned. Why this is good news is because that means bad habits can be unlearned by replacing them with good habits. This is done by repetition and consistency. Take a moment and think, ask yourself “what would be the best habits for me to have?”.

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Here are habits that I find to be some of the most powerful good habits:

  1. Get yourself a journal. In that journal write your daily goals. Before you go to bed, write out your goals or to-do’s for the next day. Check that journal as soon as you wake up so you can get an idea of what you have planned for the day. At first it will seem difficult to keep up with everything if this is new to you. But done is better than perfect. Do what you have written down to do. (Benjamin Franklin was actually the first to come up with this idea. Have a look at this link if you are interested: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/franklinautobio/section4.rhtml)
  2. Prioritize. This is part of building your time management skills. Start with the most important goals for that day and work your way down the list. Don’t put things off for later or do more pleasant/enjoyable things first. That always backfires! Pick your task and stick with it until it is complete.
  3. Eat. Keep hydrated. I know, it’s weird to say that as part of a habits list, but honest to god there are times where eating has fallen short on my priority list and I have skipped meals to get things done. I have stopped that. In EXTREMELY rare cases, this is acceptable. However, do not skip meals. I will probably sound like your mother right now, but breakfast is important. It is fuel for your brain and your body. If you skip breakfast, stop skipping breakfast. The first meal of the day will keep you energized, focused, and awake. You don’t want to be doing something important and be unable to concentrate because you are hungry. Eating well and drinking enough water is good for you – healthy people are happier people and happier people are more motivated!
  4. Discipline. It’s an unpleasant word. It carries the baggage of being a word associated with a boring, monotonous, routine. Or punishment even. Disciplining yourself is not easy, but it pays off big time. It doesn’t have to be awful. It’s simple: get enough sleep, eat well, exercise, wake up and get up on time, do things you must do, don’t put off for later what you can do now, etc. It is all about making sure your bad habits are gone and replaced with good ones. If you don’t feel like doing it, do it anyway.
  5. Think positive. This powerful little tool will get you so far in not only success but also in your everyday life. Don’t let negative thoughts flood your mind. If you feel like you’ve failed or you were unable to manage your time properly, whatever it may be – think positive. Replace 1 negative thought with 3 positive ones, that’s a trick I use sometimes when I feel like I’m being overthrown by ugly thoughts. If you can’t find a positive thought to grab hold of, talk to your loved ones. Believe in yourself, don’t let a mistake kill the accomplishments you already made or discourage you from trying.
  6. Take a break. We’re human! We need breaks. So take one when you need to. Watch your favorite TV shows, play video games, take time off, listen to music and dance around, whatever makes you feel better. Just don’t let it get into a bad habit of doing the fun things first and forgetting the must-do list. Keep track of your mental state. If you feel overwhelmed, if you are having a terrible day, or anything else…it’s OK! Take a breather. You are allowed to change the pattern of how you do things and when you do them, the scheduling and planning is entirely up to you. Just make sure you are on track with everything.

This concludes today’s basics on success. This introduction is meant to get you motivated and get your mind flowing.

Next week, I’ll talk about the intermediate steps to success.

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