Your daily choices and actions shape your life far greater than any external event. Here are just five reminders that help me, have helped others, and could quite possibly help you to stop focusing on the things that don’t matter so you can actually make a difference with the things that do.
1. STOP looking for PRAISE and instead SEEK trusted feedback.
Sure, a compliment can add a warm, fuzzy feeling to a moment, but the relentless quest for acknowledgement is more likely to fuel anxieties and promote depression than genuinely build you up. Worse than this, is the people that you and I grant the power to influence your real life. Advice and opinions are certainly not the same things and choosing the specific individuals that can add perspective, experience, and wisdom to help you shape your future is a discipline that can garner huge positive effects.
2. STOP counting your FOLLOWERS and SERVE the people that entrust you with their attention.
For full disclosure, this is still very much a work in progress in my own world. Yet writing it down is just another process to help solidify a new habit. Ego is ever present and managing its power in a modern world is more challenging than ever. Businesses chase new clients, individuals are focused on meeting new people, and success in a digital world is often validated by a quantity metric that is only ever satisfied when the never-ending objective of “more” is achieved.
Picture the difference you and I could manifest if that effort and attention was instead pointed at what already existed. Businesses obsessed about serving their existing relationships and you and I obsessed about the people we love that already exist in our lives. On social media, we all just got busy serving the people that have already clicked a button to commit that they are interested in what you have to say.
Just imagine how much more you could achieve with what is already within your reach.
3. STOP WORRYING about others and focus on your own HABITS instead.
The comparison trap is real. And adding to our deep-rooted desire to see how we fare alongside others is the other sabotaging human trait of judgement. When the focus is external, you can only ever follow your inquisition with feelings of disappointment or worthlessness.
A great mentor once shared with me the wisdom that if you are to ever compare yourself to anyone, you must compare the whole of you, with the whole of them. An almost impossible task, yet the very attempt has you quickly realizing that your own progress lies in your own habits and any shortcomings you have versus others are almost always countered by a significant benefit you have by alternative.
4. STOP referencing the PAST as evidence that controls your FUTURE.
There are very few things in life I am certain of and one of those few things is uncertainty. I feel confident that nothing stays the same and what was once true is not necessarily true today. Life to me is like water. It’s fluid and ever-changing, and our choices become the vessels that contain said water.
It’s easy to avoid new choices and create conflict by stating things like “you said…” and “last time…” as articles of evidence to support today’s decision making. The tough part is accepting that a thought or feeling in the past is nothing more than a momentary opinion. Opinions can change through experience and allowing yourself to evolve your own opinions based on new experiences is key to your own organic growth.
To change your reality, you must first change how you think.
5. STOP CELEBRATING the finish line and start working on the STEPS.
Jeez, this drives me crazy. I see it all the time and fail to understand why so many people make this choice. Achieving big things is typically hard work, yet too many people celebrate the outcome of the thing they are working on before they have done the work and, as such, remove the possibility of the true celebration later. Further challenge from this set of actions is that the euphoric feelings of an early celebration are soon replaced with an anxious reality of what now needs to be done, without the pull of the future victory celebration to help you go the distance.
I remember a conversation with two dear friends in a bar in Boston where one of them shared the old saying, “It’s the second mouse that gets the cheese”. Think on that for a second. The vivid reality of a baited trap and the knowledge that the first mouse is likely to lose its life and the more patient one gets a risk-free snack, is a metaphor that may instill a little extra patience in how quickly you proclaim your next victory.
From achieving life goals with my family, career, and personally — it seems to have served me better to put my head down and work on what needs to get done and save the real celebrations for when the real milestones are achieved. This as opposed to reaching straight for social media the moment a new idea is considered, a new venture is launched, or some good news hits my inbox.
Sometimes the applause can help you go the distance. Other times it can be a giant distraction that prevents you reaching your desired outcome.
This piece was adapted from an article originally published on Phil’s blog.
Recently inducted into the National Speakers Association’s CPAE Speaker Hall of Fame, Phil M. Jones is a master of influence and persuasion who shares high-level, practical strategies to motivate and inspire his audiences to achieve better results and help build a driven company culture.
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