These 10 Secrets Will Make Your Life Better
It is another exciting day to take on an extra layer of learning to ensure you are in tune with the rhythm of success.
Speaking of rhythms, today I am going to talk about something that is as fundamental to the outcomes you get in life. It is as sure and steady as the rhythm of the heart sets the pace for the biological processes of life.
What exactly do you need to be doing to make your life better?
I’ll introduce this not-so-strange concept with a riddle:
It is something so easily overlooked yet so intricately woven into every fibre of our being.
“Closer than any guide you’ve ever known,
I determine where you’ll eventually go;
You, I most certainly own,
Although by you I’ve been steadily grown…
What do you call me so?
You guessed right – Habits.”
No doubts you have heard so much about it enough to do a dissertation on. But then, I would like you to savour this journey with an imaginary new palette; feel in it a new flavour.
Perhaps what you have been waiting for to nudge you off your butt and get you building the life you’ve only so far wished for.
Suffice it to say that your habits form the building blocks of your character. Your character turns out to be your life’s incontrovertible driver.
I write this as a tribute to every one of you that rises every time you fall. Everyone that does not hesitate to put up another try even though it didn’t work out so great the last time.
Take these (re)new(ed) set of tools, add them to your armoury in your bid to dismantle bad habits as well as your toolbox to build new ones.
1. Always Visualize the Future You’re Headed… Always!
There’s no better place to begin a journey than the end. Yes, you heard me right.
This is taking into consideration the fact that time is a loop. The beginning can be the end, depending on which direction you’re facing.
Visualizing the end ever before the journey starts makes sure you’re not on the wrong journey, needless to say being headed for the wrong destination.
Doing this helps you think before we act. It also helps you develop strategic plans. With this in place, you don’t just make things up on the fly and are left wondering what you didn’t do right when things go wrong.
People don’t stumble into significance my friend; except you are content with mediocrity. You should be the ‘see and do’, not the ‘do and see’ kinda guy or gal.
2. Jail that thief of time
Of course, you know what that thief is – procrastination.
And I dare say that ever since mankind had something to do, there has been procrastination to keep him from doing it right. If it does allow him to do whatever there is to be done at all.
Truth be told, I actually took this write up seriously on the very deadline I was supposed to hand it in. Yes, it’s got me too.
To help understand how procrastination works in a rather funny and insightful manner, I strongly recommend Tim Urban’s 2016 TED talk on ‘How the Mind of a Master Procrastinator Works’.
But then I dare say too that anything that steals something irreplaceable or irrecoverable actually kills it in the consciousness of the owner. Why? Since he or she could have stopped interacting with it.
Therefore, since lost time is well lost, procrastination actually kills time quite literally. So, think of the chunk of time you lose every time you procrastinate as losing a chunk of yourself.
Now, further imagine how much of yourself you’ve lost since your first procrastination.
Take a further step in your imagination to visualize how much more you should have been that you actually are.
Let this sense of loss drive you to commit to losing less of yourself hereon.
3. Do Less Pointing, Do More Pulling
I had to abridge that to make it a little poetic. Frivolous, right? Don’t mind me.
The full gist is this – stop pointing your finger in a bid to blame other people for the outcomes of your life and start pulling your own weight by actually taking responsibility for your life.
Your life is like your laundry. Except you pay someone to do it for you, chances are that they won’t do it well. In the same way, except someone has a direct stake in your life, they will care about it as little as possible.
But then, the thing about life is that it’s such that no one has nearly enough stake in it as you do. Not even your closest pals, spouse or parents.
So, as the CEO of ‘You Inc’, with yourself as the largest shareholder, how committed do you think lesser contributors will be, given the ‘inferior’ position they occupy in the pecking order?
On this note, I’ll move on to the next point by saying this. You may delegate duties but to really position yourself to command influence, don’t ever delegate decisions that directly affect the critical outcomes of your life.
4. Leverage on Relationships
This comes on the heel of the last point where of course I said to always stand up for yourself.
But then, standing up for oneself is not the same as always opting for being isolated.
So, how do you leverage on relationships without compromising your individuality or your ability to stand on your own feet?
The first thing is to realize that ‘leveraging’ is not spelt as ‘relying’ – there is a huge difference, as much as there is between parasitism and symbiotism.
Neither is it taking advantage of friends who you know can’t say no.
Simply put, leveraging stays intact until you start thinking that the outcome depends on another person or situation and not on the choices you make.
In leveraging on relationships, you should understand that you multiply your efforts and increase your chances for success. Why? more heads are brought into the equation of a situation’s solution.
Obviously, the heads that are brought in should be as competent, capable and committed as you would have them be, as loyal friends, faithful employees or even co-workers.
Needless to say, leverages don’t work except there is a unilateral agreement between all the parties involved.
Another thing about getting heads together is knowing the optimum number and the temperament of their carriers. It is as that old saying goes – too much cook spoils the broth (just as an insufficient number of cooks can come up with a tasteless sauce).
And even if you have to invite ‘everybody’ to the party, they don’t all get to sit in the same seat.
So, get yourself good heads that are facing where you’re headed. People whose hearts beat in rhythm with yours and are set out to do great things. Things like changing the world and sometimes mundane things as landscaping your lawn.
Not only do you do more in these kinds of partnerships, you can actually BE MORE and the relationship is better off in the long run.
5. Pay Attention to Detail
That could feel like a punch in the stomach, especially for those of you that love the easy way out.
The truth is that the easy way is not always the easy way.
Short-term thinking does not deliver long-term benefits and things do actually look different when examined at close quarters; and the closer you get, the more you see and wonder at.
You know, back in my high school geography class, I remember my teacher telling us a story. He said that clusters of stars – nebulae or even galaxies, appear as a single light source when viewing with the unaided eye, here on earth.
Imagine for a moment that mankind had not worked hard enough to develop devices like telescopes. How would we be able to take a closer look at the cosmos? How much wonders, beauty of individuality and above all knowledge through detail we will be missing!
But then, you don’t need to be a stargazer to require attention to detail.
Your daily tasks, both the simple and the not-so-simple ones also require the highest quality of execution.
So, take the ‘telescope’ of conscientiousness or at least the magnifying glass of cross-examination and see to it that a task is done to the level where it doesn’t need redoing.
The advantage here is that the more often you do this, the more you are known for being committed to excellence. Well, this earns you a ‘conspicuous but imaginary’ badge on your lapel that is bound to get you noticed and recommended for greater opportunities at some point.
You may be the guy or girl that everyone doesn’t like for being somewhat prickly. But then, you will also be the first they will run to when they hit a wall they are so lazy to jump.
6. Learn to say NO!
There is no telling how important this is.
I was going to phrase this subtitle as ‘Learn to be assertive’, but then it sounds like an ultra-mild attempt inspired by trying to be politically correct.
Well, I’m not much of a political commentator but I do know that one thing about a politician is the way they find it difficult to say ‘No’ by actually saying ‘No’ to you. Lol
But then, your life isn’t exactly a political structure. Should you consider it to be, you are both the candidate with the highest mandate and the party that dominates the largest constituency.
So, you can afford to say ‘NO’ (in capital letters) and still get away with it!
In fact, the greatest test of being assertive is how often one says NO.
This may sound like negativity but then there is nothing positive about agreeing to something in the meantime that undermines your ability for long-term productivity.
In your bid to please people, especially the ones you care about (never mind if they don’t care as much about you) you become ‘yes man’ with as little restraint as possible on who and what you commit ourselves to.
Sometimes, you even play the ‘circus monkey’. A monkey whose existence is all about pleasing people who care enough only to laugh seeing it risk its life with amazing but frivolous stunts.
They even clap and maybe drop some coins to ‘encourage’ the monkey. But then, a circus monkey is what it is. It feeds off the attention and approval of others (such constipating diet indeed) and not its own goals and ambitions.
Saying NO when it harms you doesn’t make you a bad person. On the other hand, it does make you a responsible person whose senses are good enough to tell him what is good for him and he is brave enough to do it.
A wise General chooses his battles. That way his army stays fresh and fully functional. Not bickering over a pile of dirt when they ought to be strategizing overtaking a whole country.
Basically, this whole point boils down to how well your choice cells have been developed over time.
The better you get to make choices and take matured decisions, the lesser the chances that you’ll say Yes to every Tom, Dick and Harry that come your way.
Strength is a measure of the extent of resistance, not in the copiousness of compliance.
7. Go out on a Limb for a Friend
I know this is something quite a number of you would rather not do. Especially if you have been burned for doing so in the past or if we are barely hanging in there ourselves.
Let’s face it – the world is a broken place and as Gandhi so nicely puts it: an eye for an eye makes the world go blind.
The world has had a lot of tragedies and painful experiences such that it is now more or less the norm.
But who says it always has to be like that?
You might think that the cog in the wheels of wrongdoing and offence in the world is so huge. What can just one person do about it?
In any case, who’s asking you to be a superhero?
Just look at the person next to you, just one person. It might make you feel more comfortable if that person was your friend as stated in the subtitle. Think of that one thing you can do for him or her irrespective of how incapable you feel you are.
Do that, and repeat the same thing for the next person or friend at your earliest convenience. And then again and again until it becomes a spontaneous impulse.
I guarantee that you will find yourself feeling empowered and even desiring to do more good to more people. However, it all begins with the one good you do to a friend.
I would have you see this not as you being your friend’s benefactor but as an outlet for the capacity for goodness God puts inside you.
So, you end up being a co-beneficiary of your own good. When you go out on a limb for a friend, you end up strengthening that limb. Do the same thing for the other limb and you strengthen that limb also.
Keep doing that often and you have for yourself a nice strong pair of limbs. This can inspire others to do just the same.
In the long run, the world can actually become a better place. Why? because you went out on a limb for a friend.
8. Take Initiative
Have you ever been in a situation where you long for things to be better? That someone would just stand up and do something about the mess that seems to be everywhere?
Now run through your memory bank again; how often do you imagine that the difference maker had your face and sounded just like you?!
Very often I presume.
This innate disposition that makes us drool over so-called superheroes outwardly but makes us wish we were them inwardly is not unjustified.
In fact, we were all designed to be ‘super’ in our own special way, to be the difference. But the issue with this all-consuming desire is how hard it is to start.
Breaking the ice and building momentum might be the hardest thing we do when it comes to fulfilling our dreams.
Let us think of it this way:
It’s like having a pressurized vessel, say a gas cylinder. While the cylinder has a lot of potentials to do useful work, as long as the valve stays closed it will be as useless as a comatose piece of buried stone.
Taking initiative, no matter how small, is what really separates Movers from Mediocre. The most potent ability of superheroes – real or imagined – is that single decision to alter that very little thing. Within their grasp and like a pack of dominoes, the world seems to clear a path for them, one opportunity at a time.
Therefore, what makes for bravery is not extreme ability neither is skill the writer of history.
The infallible instrument that has ever shaped humanity is that one man or woman that simply decides to do that little thing the rest of the crowd isn’t doing.
9. Develop Immunity Against Pessimism and Scepticism
Two words readily come to mind when pessimism and/or scepticism are mentioned – doubt and discouragement.
You, my reader, would agree with me that very little, if anything, gets done in such an atmosphere. It’s like trying to plough through thick mud on a rainy day – there’s no better recipe for failure.
To put it very simply, a pessimist thinks, “why try since it can’t be done?” while a sceptic thinks, “I’ll try just hard enough to prove it’s going to be really hard getting it done… If it can be done at all.”
The worst thing about any of these two is how toxic it can be to a positive attitude.
Whatever little effort one may hope to put in seem to get ‘killed’ when pessimism or scepticism finds its way into the equation of the situation.
This evil pair saps one’s energy and cast a cloud of despondency on every intent and resolve to fight through.
No one ever puts in their best when they are under the influence of any of these two; and when the best is not what you give, it can hardly be what you will get.
To put things in perspective, the presence or absence of any of these affects our internal inertia level.
The extent to which you allow them to toss you is the extent to which you are not going to resolve whatever issues you face.
Not only should you detoxify your system of sceptic and pessimistic tendencies, you should also stay away from external factors (mostly people) that bear the aura of these traits. Truth is one hardly works without the other close-by.
Sceptics and pessimists take the colour of life; see the throne in every rose and neglect the finest fragrance it could ever offer.
They magnify the unpleasantness in every situation and amplify the voice of doubt and difficulty in every decision.
They just leave you wondering if life is worth living at all!
But I tell you, ridding yourself of them/it is like getting that annoying pebble out of your eye; all of a sudden you seem to be able to see the world in clearer, more colourful light than ever.
10. Be Grateful
I know you’ve heard that a zillion times, if not more, but then I challenge you. Do you still find yourself thinking of how you have not attained your goals? or do you feel you deserve to be in a better place than you are right now? Do your challenges seem to be bent on limiting your chances of a better life?
There’s more on the list but I do hope you get the gist. Don’t be so grumpy and all whiny about how things don’t go your way that you forget that despite that, you are not where you once were.
In fact, you are better off!
Living in Nigeria does put a spin on things a bit. There is so much to complain about that we can actually make a career out of it – if someone is willing to pay the price.
But then, when I think that I still have a place to go back to after the day’s work, a phone to call my loved ones on, a great blog to write for and excellent grades in my past school work, I simply thank God for giving me so much.
I wouldn’t want to mention how a lot of people would gladly trade places with me right now or how my present position provides a perfect platform for further advancement.
I would simply say this – “It could have been worse… ” but thankfully, it isn’t!
One thing may bother you so much and in the resultant gloom, lose yourself in the alley of impossibility.
But when you choose to snap out of it and draw strength and grace from the many blessings that surround you, you will find that gratitude in itself drowns the negative perspective that beclouds your interpretation of a situation.
Gratitude inspires you to look back. With these past victories in mind, you find the propelling force to launch into a future that is not so certain.
You hence see that it is not the uncertainty or difficulty in itself that constitutes a challenge. It’s your attitude to it.
And there is no better way to prime yourself for positivity and its attendant bliss than to be grateful for all you are and have – seen and unseen.
So tell me which of these secrets resonates with you the most?
What critical decision in the past made your life better?
I would love to hear from you in the comment section.