Regardless of the momentum we may have upon plunging into a field of interest, there will always be roadblocks and hurdles that stand in the way. Take a look around and notice two types of people: those who grow weary and apathetic as their lives become increasingly more difficult, and those who revel in adversity, employing it as a tool to propel themselves into success.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do — whether you’re a janitor, a teacher, an investment banker or a trust-fund baby, difficulties and challenges are a common denominator of humanity. On the surface, it may appear as though certain people have good fortune served to them on a silver platter, this is a total misconception.
Success will never simply knock on your door and stay until you’re ready to capitalize on an opportunity. If you are able to form habits that allow you to put your best foot forward, you will be miles ahead of the herd.
1. Break your ultimate goal into simple components.
The smaller the goal, the easier it is to accomplish. Usually, there are many possible routes that lead to the same destination. Consider all of your options to make a calculated decision regarding what’s right for you. Once you’re able to break a large goal into many small ones, gaining momentum grows easier. Confidence stems from success, and the more opportunities for success with which you provide yourself, the more confident you will ultimately be.
2. Pay attention to your surroundings.
Opportunities arise more often than we tend to notice. The more you think about the goals you want to achieve, the more attuned you’ll be to recognizing opportunity. The world supplies infinite possibilities, yet we only perceive a small part of them. When you focus on what’s important to you and leave out the excess, you’ll find that you have more resources at your disposal than you may have thought.
3. Be curious.
I once heard that the answer to life is its questions. The more questions you ask, the more answers you’ll have. Equally important, the more questions you ask, the better you become at identifying valuable information. Don’t take things at face value just because someone said so. Make sure you understand the concepts and ideas behind the details and you will be able to better apply what you learn to other fields of interest.
4. Exercise regularly.
Working hard can be taxing, both mentally and physically. When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol, a steroid hormone that can suppress the immune system and cause the breakdown of muscles. Regular exercise can help reduce the amount of cortisol your body releases through the introduction of endorphins.
Endorphins are natural neurotransmitters that your body releases. They interact with the opiate receptors in your brain, producing a feeling of euphoria and stress-relief, similar to that of morphine. Endorphins are responsible for what is commonly known as ‘runner’s high,’ and they work to reduce anxiety, depression and pain. It’s easy for us to get lost in work and become constantly stressed and anxious. Regular exercise will help take the edge off and keep your mind clear so that you can consistently perform at your best.
5. Don’t eat bad food.
There’s a reason F1 drivers never put low-octane gas in their cars. When you’re performing at maximum capacity, you must provide high-quality energy. Your brain uses glucose as fuel, which is derived from the foods you eat. Although it’s convenient to grab a quick burger, you will be better equipped for the challenges ahead if you give yourself lean proteins and cut out excess sugars. Diet and exercise also go hand-in-hand, so if you want results from the gym, make sure you’re putting in the work outside of the gym.
6. Make time for yourself.
Whether it’s five minutes or 30 minutes per day, take some time to think about what you’ve done and where you need to go. Visualize the life you want to live. Think about how happy you’d be if you beat the odds and went where no one has gone before. Use this as a tool to keep yourself motivated and on track. Additionally, try to write something during your reflection time. Keep a log of your accomplishments to help you remember how far you’ve come.
7. Find other people who share similar goals.
The learning process can be more interesting if you’re sharing your journey with someone who challenges you to be better. Personal experiences are extremely valuable when it comes to learning, and listening to other people’s opinions can be equally constructive. Strive to help one another through times of stress. Finding a mentor is also a great goal — it’s always helpful to speak with someone who has already gone through the process you’re navigating.
8. Don’t compare yourself to others.
Your only benchmark for success should be yourself and your only real competitor should be the person you were yesterday. When you go to bed every night, ask yourself if you are a better version of yourself than you were the day before. Don’t worry about what other people are doing and don’t doubt yourself — just focus on you.
9. Don’t focus too much on the past or the future.
You have no control over things that have already transpired. The future is uncertain, so thinking too far ahead and occupying your thoughts with hypothetical situations can provide you with unnecessary anxiety. You can’t predict what will happen tomorrow, but you can set yourself up for success today. The puzzle pieces of your future will fit together as they should, so work to let go of developments you can’t control.
10. Change your perspective when navigating a tough situation.
I see every challenge as an opportunity to grow and to become better. I become excited about the prospect of self-improvement because I’ll be so much more adept when a similar issue arises. Try not to be frustrated when you’re faced with a hurdle. It’s easy to become emotional and get wrapped up in a perpetual cycle of negativity. But obviously, this is not productive. Take a few deep breaths and examine the big picture. Think rationally rather than emotionally.
11. Find an outlet for your frustration.
As we embark on our journeys for success, we’re bound to, at least occasionally, grow angry. It’s important to have a hobby that you can use as a distraction to clear your thoughts and diffuse negative energy. Whether it's through lifting weights, driving your car or going for a run, try to find something that will allow you to feel peaceful so that you’ll be ready to get back to the grind.
12. Never give up.
Winners never quit and quitters never win. Have the courage to go all-in and make your dreams a reality, because if you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Remember that anything worth having won’t come easily. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had massive failures in the past. If you fall down 99 times, the only thing that matters is that you always stand back up.
Strive to form habits today that are on par with your dreams for tomorrow. Soon, you’ll have no idea how you ever survived your previous lifestyle.