***WARNING: Motivational Quote(s) to Follow: There are some within the industry who get annoyed with motivational quotes. If you are one of these people, turn back now while you still can!!***
Apologies for the philosophical bent, but this has been quite an impactful year for me in every arena: physically, psychologically, emotionally, with regard to my career, family, friends, and on and on. I always feel that finishing off a year with a solid retrospective on the lessons learned is a powerful and refreshing method to really let the past be in the the past and to move forward with a positive eye. Hopefully, some of the things I’ve personally learned over 2013 can be helpful for you – if not, well at least you can look for a motivational quote or two. So, without further adieu:
1. Take Control
This one is not only something I’ve been a proponent of long before this particular year, but as it’s really the foundation of all following ideas herein, it’s important to take note of: you are in control of your life. You are NOT a helpless ship, wandering the ocean at the whims of the wind. Nothing simply happens to you; you determine all outcomes.
The media today is built around shortcuts and the “easy way out”. Nothing should require hard work, and bad things just happen to us sometimes without our input. Want to make more money? I can find you a “secret” to it. Want to get an incredible six-pack? Here, do this 6-minute routine, twice a week, take this ‘magic pill’, and you’re set! Someone else got that promotion you’ve been after for six months? Well, they cheated – there was nothing you could do…
…..Yeah, all of that is CRAP. The real secret is that THERE. IS. NO. SHORTCUT.
I know it’s cliche, but it really does all come down to mindset; further, a responsible mindset. Take responsibility for your life, your circumstance, and everything that takes place around you. Blaming others will only bring you further problems. Interestingly, this is one of the first things our parents try to teach us, no? How do we lose it so quickly down the road?
Pretty solid breakdown on responsible v. victim mindset.
2. Eliminate the Toxins
I know where your mind is likely to go first here: let’s all go on a juice cleanse, and everything will be better! No, that’s not what I mean. That’s not what I would EVER mean…. Part of that responsible mindset is realizing the things and people you spend your time around and with directly influence your point of view and your daily outlook on life. Often, they can even influence your mood.
My challenge to you is to eliminate the toxic people. Unfortunately, that can be extremely difficult. Look around right now and think of folks in your life who are constantly complaining, whining, or are just overall negative – those folks who project their insecurity and anger onto you because you’re close to them. Sure, they have their redeeming qualities, but at what point do those qualities simply stop counting because of their bleak, victim-mindset?
As a basic reminder:
Insecure people will NEVER trust you.
Angry people will inevitably become dangerous.
Disloyal people will find a way to betray you.
Dishonest people will find a way to hurt you.
Unreliable people will put you in a very difficult position, likely more than once.
There are oh-so-many more touch points here, but these are the biggies I’ve run across the most, and the ones I would recommend confronting and eliminating as quickly as possible. These, along with that “victim” I mentioned before, will eventually seep into your life, and can do nothing but bring you down.
3. Practice Stoicism
This is actually a 100% new one for me. I’m intrigued by it, and in the relatively short time I’ve been working with it, it’s paid dividends. There are numerous famous Stoics including Marcus Aurelius himself, and let me begin the whole conversation by encouraging you to take a somewhat “soft” approach to stoicism.
An easy answer to your inevitable next question, “What is Stoicism?” is simply: a way of life devoted to never allowing oneself to get to “high” or too “low”. For the ancient Roman and Greek philosophers, this was interpreted quite literally in that NOTHING really impacted their mood, including really great things!! When I say that I encourage a “soft” approach to this, I’d simply welcome you to never get to low, but certainly allow yourself to enjoy the finer things in life, and feel good about yourself for an accomplishment, promotion, etc. Still, keep your feet on the ground. Where do you think Warren Buffett or Bill Gates would be today if they decided they were God’s gift after their first million?
I would actually encourage you to do your research on this one because there are some really great exercises you can do every day simply to give you perspective on your moods and general outlook. Give this spot a try, and I challenge you to do their three exercises for a week and see if you don’t feel better. Granted, that particular article is for the more entrepreneurial-minded of us, but it really does apply to all aspects of life as I see it.
“Alexander the Great and his mule driver both died and the same thing happened to both.” -Marcus Aurelius
4. GET OFF THE DAMN PHONE
I know this one is obvious, but seriously, unplug once in a while. I understand it’s entirely unrealistic to ever expect a productive, on-the-go professional to legitimately turn their phone off and ignore it for any extended period of time – clearly, that’s a great way to lose client, contacts, and possibly one’s job itself.
My methodology lies more in minimizing the impact all the electronics have you for as long as possible. It might not be possible to not answer an important call, but can you not close Facebook, Twitter InstaGram, Tumblr, etc for an hour to read a book? I know that avoiding your inbox could legitimately cost you and your firm a considerable amount of money, but I think you’ll survive not hitting “refresh” every ten seconds, no?
Who knows, by 8pm on a Friday or Saturday, you might actually get the opportunity to NOT be on your phone for work. That is the point when I would strongly recommend, once a month at the very least, TURNING. IT. OFF. Take a walk. Lay on your car and look at the stars. Trust me, for your long term sanity and happiness, your friends and happy hour can wait.
5. Tell Everyone How You Feel About Them, Always
Seriously, just do it. I don’t just mean in the romantic sense – speak your mind to absolutely everyone who means something to you in your life. You never know how long someone else, or for that matter, how long you have on this Earth. Make it count. There is absolutely no reason your best friends, your family, and your significant other shouldn’t feel appreciated for being awesome. So, if someone you know is awesome, tell ‘em – and tell ‘em I told you to.
Hey you…yeah, YOU!!
BOOM. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and all that jazz. ‘Merica.