It is my firm belief that everyone should aspire to live an excellent life. What that means to individuals personally will vary quite a bit, but the common denominator between us all should be living our lives exactly the way we want to live them. When I speak of living exactly the way we want to live, this does not mean having our circumstances exactly the way we would like them to be, nor does this mean living a picture perfect life. What it does mean is reaching an optimal level in certain areas of our lives, areas that I would argue are important to all of us. Here are some ideas as to what steps to take in order to life an excellent life.
1. Find your calling
I truly believe that each and every one of us has something specific and unique that we can offer to the world. I am a huge believer in destiny. Each of us has something distinct that we were born to do.
Look back to your childhood. What did you gravitate towards? What did you want to be when your mind was unencumbered and free from fear, doubt, and skepticism? The key to the mystery of finding our life’s task lies in our youth. Move from your childhood into your early teens when you began to discover potential career paths. What did you envision yourself doing in adulthood? Are you doing that now?
If you’re doing something that you don’t particularly enjoy for a living, it’s going to become tougher each day, each week, and each year to get out of bed and make it through the grind. If you have found something that you’re passionate about, it won’t feel like work, and you’ll have the energy to perform at a high level for extended periods of time. We spend a great deal of our lives working. Do you really want to have a significant portion of your life be unpleasant? It is, after all, your life we’re talking about here.
It’s an arduous task to fully grasp the big picture of your life, especially when you’re young. The paycheck you receive is equivalent to misdirection created by an illusionist. It keeps you looking one way for a bit, and when you glance back, the years of your live have vanished into thin air. If you have trouble getting out of bed and going to work every day, it’s imperative that you reevaluate what you’re choosing to do for a living.
2. Know yourself
I’m not quite sure if many of us truly know ourselves. We think we know, but oftentimes our beliefs are nothing more than programs we’ve downloaded from others. We live in a “monkey see, monkey do society”, where something isn’t cool unless everyone else is doing it. Remove the distractions of your surroundings and think about what you really want, as opposed to what you think you’re supposed to want; the answers might surprise you.
The journey of self-discovery is the most important one of all, and it’s hard to live the life of your dreams when you don’t have a concrete sense of who you are as a person. Knowing yourself takes effort; patiently practiced self-reflection. I’m suggesting that you actually take the time to sit in complete silence, and think about what you truly want out of life. Until you know who you are, you won’t know which direction to take.
3. Live with purpose
In my opinion the most tragic type of life is an indifferent life, the type of life where you’re simply just passing time. I would prefer to work with someone who is either hot or cold, but not someone who is lukewarm. Motivation comes from either inspiration or desperation. At least desperation can hurt so badly that it leads to wanting to improve.
Once you stop caring altogether you’re finished. You must find a way to motivate yourself form within. Inner motivation is actually the only motivation there truly is. If you need someone else to pump you up every single day, what will you do when they’re not around to perform your daily inflation? Living a purposeful life is the difference between being alive and actually living. Find something that drives you no matter how long it takes you to find it.
4. Acquire worldly wisdom
Many philosophers believed that it was a moral duty to subscribe to a life of continual education, and I am inclined to agree with them. Learning keeps you from growing stale with age. As soon as you believe that you know everything there is to know, you become ignorant. Smart people realize more and more as they learn that there is always more to know. Education liberates you from ignorance and allows you to move closer towards the truth.
Life is not black and white, and you should not feel that you’re in a position to have a solid opinion until you are able to argue the opposition’s side better than they are. With thesis and antithesis, there is synthesis. Learn from various angles. Learn about subjects you are unfamiliar with. Learning widens the scope of your vision and enriches your life. Go to bed each day a little wiser than you were when you woke up. There are few gifts in life as precious as true wisdom.
5. Strengthen your relationships
Humans need other humans in order to survive and thrive. Some scientists argue that our prefrontal cortex evolved specifically to increase our social capabilities and cooperation skills. All the money in the world will not make you happy if you have no one in your life to share it with. Your accomplishments will mean nothing if you’ve built walls of isolation around yourself.
Let the people in your life know how much you love them and care about them. Realize that at the end of the day you aren’t going to be able to take your material possessions with you to the grave, and that when you look back on your life your most precious memories are going to involve the people closest to you. Find old friends and reconnect with them and be open to new people with new perspectives to learn from. You can live a great life without being financially rich, but you cannot live a great life without being rich in relationships.
6. Be prepared/take advantage of opportunities
Rare is a life that is bathed with opportunity. Monumental, life-changing types of opportunities are few and far in between, so when they present themselves, pounce on them and exploit them to the fullest. This is where preparation comes in handy. Adopt of a process of rapid learning and development. You never quite know when a window of opportunity will present itself and if you’re unprepared not only will you miss out, but also you will be forced to live with regret.
7. Stay healthy
As mundane and redundant as it may sound, it is of absolute importance that we keep ourselves in adequate physical shape. Perhaps the reason that this sentiment is so ubiquitous and overstated is because it has yet to fully sink in to the brains of the members of our society. You simply cannot perform to your highest capabilities when you are unhealthy, and a debilitating illness (which is oftentimes preventable) can render you completely useless. This doesn’t mean that you must transform yourself into a fitness fanatic overnight, but it does mean that the process of becoming more active must begin immediately.
8. Learn from (other people’s) mistakes
While it is true that you learn a great deal from mistakes, who says that they have to your own mistakes? Many business owners enter into an industry blindly without first taking time to research and study those who have previously attempted what they’re trying to do. This contributes to the fact that a majority of small businesses fail soon after they are launched. Observing others can be a great lesson in what not to do. Instead of trying to solely learn from experience, increase your awareness and pay attention to what has worked and hasn’t worked for other people.
9. Find heroes
One of the best ways to find motivation to take on your exciting new ventures in life is to find successful people that you can look up to. Read biographies of the world’s most influential and legendary people to help give you the courage you need to go after your dreams. Biographies are amazingly useful motivational tools because they show you the entirety of the journey, including all of the trials, tribulations, and struggles, instead of the polished final product presented to you through the media. When you realize that some of the world’s greatest individuals are normal people with the same types of problems we all face, it becomes easier to walk your own path with confidence.
10. Invert, invert, invert
Inversion is a great way to pinpoint exactly what is needed to for an excellent life. Sherlock Holmes used the method of inversion to solve baffling cases. He would investigate all of the different possibilities and rule out each potential suspect until all directions pointed to one person. No matter how unlikely the culprit, who ever remained must have been the perpetrator. Use this methodology in your life to figure out the right path to follow. Instead of thinking about what you love, think about what you hate (and avoid it). Instead of thinking about all of the things you should do to be successful, think about all of the things that you should to in order to fail (and don’t do them). Think about all of the things you don’t want in your life, and subsequently remove them. All that will remain are the ingredients to an excellent life.
11. Face your fears
There are only two types of people in this world. Those who face their fears, and those who don’t. The ones who face their fears are rewarded with an excellent life. The ones who don’t are resigned to regret and suffering for the rest of their lives. Until you face your fear you will remain stuck in your circumstances. Courage isn’t the absence of fear; courage is being fearful yet proceeding to take action. You must be a courageous person to live an excellent life.
12. Attract success by the person you become
Instead of seeking out the circumstances you wish to attain, focus on becoming the type of person deserving of those circumstances. To get what you want you have to deserve what you want. Working on yourself is the most important work you will ever do in your life. You will never able to change what’s on the outside until you change yourself. When you strive to develop yourself, the universe will eventually catch up to the work you’ve put in and reward you with all of the success you’ve been endlessly searching for.
The key is to never focus on what you’re getting, but to always focus on what you’re becoming. When deciding whether or not to accept a position at a new company, instead of thinking about how much money you will make, think of what you will become as a result of being a part of that organization. Intelligent people don’t work for money. They work for experience and the implementation of skills that will help them to become more successful. The only thing you have complete control of is yourself, which is why it should be at the center of your focused effort. Become so impressive that you’re impossible to ignore.