Not by coincidence, this subject occurred to me on December 27, at the end of a year. There's something about the wee hours of the night --- or the last escaping days of the year --- when I begin to think back on what I've done this year, the people I've come across, the things that have happened to me.
Before I start the next one, I think to myself, is there something I could have done differently to make my year better? Years ago, before I changed my life, December was the time to torture myself reading the "best of " lists for the past year, to my regret always. You know the ones --- the 100 most influential this or that person, the best jobs to have , the best cities to live in --- all of which simply make me miserable in the knowledge that I didn't live where I wanted to live, work where I wanted to work or love whom I wanted to love.
Not to ruin the ending but I now live where I want to live --- Buenos Aires, Argentina, called the "Paris of South America" and a "paradise for ex-pats" by no less than the New York Times, I work where I want to work --- in my case, at home as a freelance writer, and, certainly, I love whom I want to love.
I've been living my dream for almost 5 years now. As I sift back through the steps I took to change my reality from a steady but mind-numbing 9 to 5 in the U.S. to my life now, freed as they say, from the desk, I have started to understand the decisions that got me to finally make a change.
So, here they are, the 10 simple changes that you or anyone can make to begin to make fundamental changes in your lives, and reach your fullest potential:
1. Reserve the Best, Give the Rest. You know the most precious parts of the day? The first 10 minutes after you wake up and the last hour before you go to sleep.
In those first quiet moments in the dark after you open your eyes or before you close them, your mind enters a new state.
You shift from the realm of reality to the realm of dreams and possibility. These are your moments to seize and to start to craft a vision of your new reality. Envision yourself doing what you want to do, living where you want to live and being free to choose.
Then, as you dream, your subconscious will start to knit together a plan. Hazy at first, the plan will become more and more definite and detailed as you practice this active pre-dreaming, this visualization.
2. Practice the Power of "No". You only have 24 hours in a day. People who are living their dreams know that this finite resource of time is to be carefully used. You have to sort out with precision where in your day you are wasting time. What do I mean by wasting time?
Here's what I mean. There are only 2 states in life. You are either moving toward your dreams. Or you are moving away from your dreams.
Whatever you are doing during the day is either helping to move you toward or move you away from, your dreams. So, decide. If you're spending 3 hours texting with "friends", who is that helping? Is it just a distraction from your goals?
If you're spending 4 hours during the evenings in front of the TV, who is that helping? The producers of your favorite show -who are raking in Big Money, by the way -or you?
Unplug from the texting. Unplug from the TV. And plug some of those hours into You and Your Dreams.
3. Make a List. Studies have shown this -that which is measured gets better. People who write down what they eat, eat less. Companies that track customer satisfaction, satisfy more customers.
Likewise, people who track their goals by writing them down on a list and keeping track of whether they are getting closer, end up getting closer to or achieving their goals.
Track your goals. Write them down. Then, on a monthly, weekly, daily basis, track how you're doing in getting those goals met.
4. Surround Yourself With Like-minded People. People who are goal-oriented tend to support you in your efforts to stay on track to reaching your goals.
That's why, if you're trying to lose weight, for example, you need to surround yourself with people who like to exercise and like to eat healthy. You will pick up their habits. More importantly, you will adapt to their standards.
If you want to earn more money, join groups which include people who are making what you want to make. Fly with the right flock. You'll get where you want to be faster.
5. Stop Indulging In Self Pity. Self-pity is a waste of time. It gets you nowhere. In fact, because it mires you in re-living your past, it guarantees your failure in breaking free to a new and better future. Banish the past to the past. It's over. That old injury has claimed your past. Don't give it your future too. (Read more about the health benefits of forgiveness.)
6. Invest in Friends. By friends, I mean people who are willing to help you reach your dreams. Other people may love you and wish you well but are not willing to do a damned thing to help you. I call them "well-wishers". You can love them and wish them well too but don't waste too much time on them. They can't help you get to where you want to be.
Certainly don't spend a single minute of your precious time with people who actively discourage you. These are the "dream-killers". They come from the Land of Limitations. If you say you want to do anything except bide your time until you collect social security (assuming it's around when you retire!), they will think you're crazy. Worse, they will call you crazy or reckless or stupid or silly or anything else that comes to mind to stop you from ever, ever dreaming again.
Invest in real friends, people who do something to help you, whether it be actively encouraging you by sending you articles or passing along tips for getting ahead or recommending you for positions or lightening your financial or emotional burdens somehow.
Invest almost all of your free "people time" with these real friends --- remember their birthdays, spend lunches and dinners with them, share tips with them, love them.
7. Take Care of Yourself Physically. Your body is you. People judge you by your appearance.
Believe me, you will rise farther, faster if you look like you care about yourself. People will be attracted to you, want to partner with you, want to fly in your flock.
The truth is, in Western cultures, fat equals lazy. Fat equals careless. Fat equals lack of discipline.
It's not true of course. But that's the prejudice you have to fight against if you're overweight. If you are overweight, it's just one more hurdle you have to climb over to reach the point where you can persuade people to help you reach your dreams.
Stop putting blocks in your path. Get out of your own way. Lose just 10 pounds. Then go for more.
And here's another truth. People love those who love themselves. They see you, you're looking good and subconsciously, they think, he or she is the kind of person who knows how to take care of themselves, so, yes, I bet they also know how to take care of me.
Conversely, if you're sloppy and fat, they think how can he or she ever be trusted to take care of me, when they can't even take care of themselves.
Maybe we're wired this way by evolution. We choose to be near those who have demonstrated that they know how to get it done, how to be strong, run fast, how to take care of themselves. Maybe our pre-historic brains linked self-care with competence. (Read more about the health benefits of weight training.)
8. Walk 10% faster. People believe that people who stroll slowly are lazy. They're wrong of course. But that's what they think. If you're a stroller, you're giving off an impression of sloth. Just add a click or 2 faster to your gait. You're more likely to come across as someone who gives a damn.
9. Remember Names. If you write a brilliant memo or cover letter and you get the name of the addressee wrong even in the slightest way, you're dead. Your new potential boss, mentor, friend, whatever, will stop caring about your letter, resume, whatever the moment they see their own name misspelled or mispronounced. People only care about their own names. To them, those letters that make up their names are the most important ones in the universe. Respect that.
10. Follow-up. In all my dealings with people, the one trait I value most is follow-through. People who are successful value people who keep their commitments. If they say they will get back to you by Tuesday, they get back to you by Tuesday. If they say they will deliver a product by next month, it is delivered by next month. And, if they see that anything will get in the way of them keeping their word to you, they give you a heads-up way before the deadline, so you can plan. I keep folks like that around.
I think of them first when I want to hire an accountant, a project manager, a partner. I also recommend them to my friends who, like me, are always on the look-out for people who keep their word and deliver on their commitments.
In my experience, the quickest way to get fired is to start missing deadlines, start breaking commitments. And, likewise, the quickest way to become successful is to start over-delivering on your promises, over-delivering on your commitments. If you promise 10, give them 11. And, in that spirit, I offer…
11. Say Thank You. Politeness and manners are a thing of the past, right? Wrong. I have had over 200 employees at various times. Who are the ones I remember and still recommend?
Easy. They're the ones whom I like. People with manners are easy to like. I don't mean people who kiss-up. I mean, people who say "Thank you", when you do something for them. People who ask instead of taking, who request rather than demand. If you couple competence with manners, you become a magnet for people with resources. As Carly Simon once sang, the river will flow right to your door.
Thank you for sharing these minutes of your day. I hope what I've written helps you even in some small way. If you'd like to get more articles from us at zoomhealth, feel free to click on "Register here" or on our home page and you will receive a heads-up on any new articles we add.
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