Everywhere around us, people love to complain. Many vent or whine about how unsatisfied they are with their careers, their relationships and their overall lives.
I’ve fallen into these traps myself, but then I discovered seven principles to generating success and happiness in all that I do. They haven’t failed me yet.
Truly successful people get up and start each day filled with purpose. They visualize an imagined future state for their work or their life that’s different than today. Then, they get to work on creating it or bringing it about — not waiting for it to happen.
People with purpose know what they want out of life. They know who they want to become. One of the best ways detect your purpose is to create a vision board, mission statement, or list of values — then commit to bringing those things to life. This ensures you stay proactive instead of reactive.
Once you find our purpose, it’s critical that you align your time with what matters most to you. Fulfilled people create a high degree of congruence between what they say and what they do. Truly happy people take action towards their imagined end goal every day.
If your purpose statements are about your relationships with family, fitness and progression at work, but you don’t consistently take steps towards those things, you’ll naturally feel unhappy and dissatisfied with life. I’ve found that long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity. Taking the time to plan your week in advance with the help of a planner or calendar has been essential for me. Without planning for your most important life activities, it’s easy to let daily distractions and interruptions derail you constantly. Having a plan in advance — and sticking to it — ensures that you maintain control over your day, versus the other way around.
Many of us are motivated at three different levels. At the lowest level, fear: We do things because we’re afraid of what might happen if we don’t. The second lowest level is duty (or obligation): We do things because we feel we should. The highest level of motivation is love (or passion): Instead of feeling like we must act or ought to act, we do things because we want to.
Since the third kind of motivation is intrinsic instead of extrinsic, it tends to be a much easier form of motivation to maintain. My father taught me at a young age to find a job that didn’t feel like work. In other words: Don’t do anything you’re not passionate about. We tend to feel happiest when we spend our lives doing things we love. Spending our time doing things we don’t feel passionate about often leads to burnout. Jobs we love give us energy, and jobs we hate take energy from us. Having a job we love isn’t something for a chosen few — it’s attainable for any of us.
This is all about simply putting the hours in. We often like to look at celebrities and believe that they possess something that we don’t. We’ll say things like: “They were born with it,” or “They just got lucky.”
I believe that we like to tell ourselves these stories because it lets us off the hook for not doing things we don’t want to do. But, the reality is that most successful people didn’t just get lucky — most dedicated a lot of effort and time into perfecting their craft. Several NBA stars shoot 100 perfect free throws consecutively before they leave practice. Why are we so afraid to simply put the hours in? Often, it’s because society teaches us that things should be “easy.” The truth is there’s no shortcut to success — it requires tons of practice, and if we want a great life, we must be willing to work at it. This means being willing to fail, make mistakes and learn from those mistakes.
It’s been said that two things prevent us from happiness: living in the past and observing others. I’ve found that focusing primarily on the present and only on what we ourselves can control is an incredible driver of results.
Between every stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is a choice. I’ve found that when we choose to focus on only what we can control, not the things we can’t, we can stay better connected to the present moment — and that’s where all our power lies. All too often we spend time focusing on things we can’t control: other people, traffic, the weather, the past. This rarely does us any good. Stay focused on the present moment and yourself, and you will immediately be more powerful.
It’s true that pain is inevitable, but all too often, we fail to notice that pain doesn’t mean we must suffer. What matters most isn’t what happens to us — it’s how we choose to respond to what happens to us. Even when we can’t control our circumstances, we can always control how we feel about it.
Life is hard, but we can all do hard things. As we set out to do hard things, it’s so important that we’re aware of our subconscious minds, which can accidentally sabotage us. Our subconscious minds, because they’re so programed to protect us, often try to dupe us into believing that hard things are scary and should be avoided. The most meaningful things in life often come at a price, and can be difficult. Problems arise when we expect things to be easy — but when we find the courage to lean into pain, amazing things happen. When we accept pain is part of the journey, we fare better.
Staying positive can be hard, especially during tough times. Bad things happen to all of us, and the road to success can be long. It’s often littered with difficult challenges. What you do in moments like these, and how you think about challenge (and yourself) will define you. Embracing struggle, hard work, setbacks and unforeseen events in stride and choosing to see those things as learning opportunities not only means you’re more likely to be successful, it means you’re more likely to enjoy yourself along the way.
These seven Ps have become a part of my daily regimen, and as they have, I’ve created much greater success. While practicing the power of these seven Ps, I became a marathon runner, a COO, a skier, started my own business, bought my dream home and found the right relationship. I promise that these Ps can transform any area of your life.