I’ve spent these last few weeks reflecting on the people, places, and things 2013 has gifted me with and how different my life and mentality has changed compared to one year ago. In doing so, I’ve compiled a short list of things that I’ve worked very hard to change in my life, all of which have drastically impacted how I approach my every day. With the help of motivational speakers (such as Les Brown and Zig Ziglar), new (and old) friends, my parents, exercise, fresh opportunities, and reevaluating my priorities, I am happy to say that these tools have combined to hold my hand through the lows and push me to new heights. Here are a few I’ve learned in the past year:
- Dream HUGE, but don’t overlook or skip the small steps.
Any dream you strive towards takes a large amount of time to create and countless baby steps that are necessary to get there. Although a very small amount of people are able to obtain their end game quickly and with little turmoil, that is not the case for most of us. Steady the course and don’t overlook the finite details needed to make today better than yesterday. You can do it if you believe.
- Don’t put ‘all of your eggs into one basket’.
Be flexible and don’t hold tight to a constricted view that only one way is the right way. A willingness to learn, the ability to adjust accordingly, and the drive to continue moving forward will be crucial in your overall success and general sanity in this life. You must have faith that if you continue to work hard at the things you want, opportunities will present themselves.
- Don’t fixate on the endgame, enjoy the journey.
One of the top reasons people don’t follow through with their dreams (or even New Year’s resolutions) is that they expect, and desire, immediate results. Heck, we all do. But riddle me this: if you began playing football today for the first time, would you expect to be Dan Marino by May? If you are indeed chasing your dream, you should ideally LOVE what you do. If you don’t you WILL quit or give up. No matter how ridiculously satisfying it may be to see your album on the shelf of a record store or watch your film on the big screen, it will be tenfold more rewarding to see the end result as both complete and its best. Don’t rush it.
- Don’t let fear dictate anything you do or don’t do.
A slogan that is constantly brought up in motivational speeches is the concept that “fear is a construct of the mind”. This statement is completely accurate. Why not write a letter to your favorite author, singer, or movie star? Why not apply for a job that is “way beyond your qualifications”? Why not ask the prettiest girl or cutest guy in the office out on a date? Why not tell a friend “thank you” when they constantly provide support and simultaneously push you further? It sure does take a lot more courage to look back on your life and say “I failed” as opposed to saying “what if”. Chances are if you shun fear and continue to stay after it, with your goal clearly in sight, those failures will propel you to a success you never imagined could ever exist.
- Be malleable to change and take criticisms.
This one is insanely hard, but tough skin is required if you want your work to stand out and be its finest. Yes, it is always nice to hear supportive comments and positive cheer leading from friends and family members but it is extremely difficult to make anything better if you never challenge it to be better. Put your work in the hands of someone you know is going to shred it, rip it apart, send it through the meat grinder. Even if you don’t necessarily agree with their standpoints, it will encourage you to open your eyes to new insights and perspectives you never had before. And, eventually, your work will become its strongest.
- Work at your dream and goal EVERY SINGLE DAY.
This is the top reason people don’t achieve the goals they set for themselves. It’s too easy to “take a day off” or “give yourself a cheat day” or “start doing _____ on Monday”. If you ask me, there is no such mentality You want change? Make it happen TODAY. This may sound a little like a spitting-angry, bald-headed drill sergeant, but I believe this to be absolutely, without any reasonable doubt, 100% factual. Pushing through the mental, physical, or emotional pains makes you so much stronger, even if it’s just “one of those small steps”. Making a determinant effort every day to do the things necessary for a brighter future will encourage you to develop a ‘groove’, a strict self-regimen that you love and couldn’t imagine being without. Trust me, the results will follow.
If you’ve made this far, I’d like to close with one short personal story that changed my life in a constructive way.
After my second knee surgery in 2010, I weighed almost 210 pounds and was easily the heaviest I’ve ever been (I’m only about 5’8, on a good day). Growing up with athletics all year round, the inactivity and weight gain I experienced was something that not only upset me, but was also foreign and completely terrifying. After I was cleared to move again, I knew this wasn’t the life I wanted for myself and I had to make a change. I started this process very slowly, at a crawl if you will. After 15 minutes on a stationary bike I was exhausted; but I continued to push forward every day. For weeks I remained at that 15 minute mark which, to most, is nothing. Maybe even a waste of time. After a while, I started incrementally increasing the duration of my workouts as well as the intensity. Before I knew it, I was shedding pounds like a sumo wrestler who fell asleep in the steam room. Months went by before I experienced any results I deemed “rewarding” but I kept getting after it day, after day, after day. Regardless of how much I thought weight loss would never happen. Despite how much I let fear and doubt take the reins of my life. Despite the little voice in my head whispering “you can’t do it”.
You can do it.
Believe in yourself. Trust in your vision. Create your own opportunities. Achieve your dream.
Best of luck to all of you in 2014.
“The world is yours”. – Nas