Life is not meant to be complicated. It is straightforward. It’s simply a matter of doing the right things. And when we do so, the right things will happen. The reward for doing the right things is success, happiness, and fulfillment. But when we do the wrong things, we reap failure, misery, and regret. So, what are the wrong things? The list below is enough to get you started. After going through it, you will quickly think of other things to add to the list. Just think of the right things as the things that work, and the wrong things as the things (actions) that don’t work. If what you are doing is bringing you closer to your goals and dreams, you are doing the right things. On the other hand, if success is no where in sight, you are unhappy, and you are feeling frustrated, they are signs that you are doing the wrong things. Now is a good time to take stock of your actions and ask yourself whether you’re doing the right or wrong things.
THE WRONG THINGS:
1. Denial. The first step in overcoming a problem is to admit that we have one. Most of us are imperfect and have a problem or two in one or more areas of life. Here’s a simple test. If you’re unhappy, you’re doing something wrong. If that describes you, try to find out what you are doing wrong and correct the situation.
2. Unwilling to work at it. I have heard many people say, “Self- help books and self-improvement programs don’t work for me.” Then I have to explain, “Self-help books and programs are not supposed to work, YOU are supposed to work! Just carry out the exercises you have learned and practice them for 15 ~ 20 minutes a day. If you were to do so, it is impossible not to improve.” How do they know the books and programs don’t work when they don’t practice what is taught?
3. Looking for the easy way instead of the right way. The only short cut to success is hard work. Hard work may not come naturally, but we have the capacity to develop self-discipline, which is an essential skill. Self-discipline is nothing less than the freedom to reach our dreams. When viewed in that light, its importance should become clear.
4. Ignoring the warning signs. Unhappiness and the failure to reach our goals are warning signs. The pain brought on by these predicaments is life’s way of screaming at us, “What you are doing isn’t working. Try doing things differently.” Yet, rather than heed the warning signs, some prefer to blame their problems on “bad luck.” Others claim they are victims of circumstances or fate. The reality is they are victims of their own negative thoughts and beliefs. How much better it is to be the beneficiary of one’s own positive thoughts.
5. Failure to plan. When we fail to plan, we plan to fail. We can’t just wait for things to happen. We have to make them happen. And we do so by carefully planning and taking the appropriate steps. It’s time to stop brooding and whining and start planning for success. It’s time to ask ourselves, “What do I want? Why do I want it? Why don’t I already have what I want? What am I doing wrong? What steps do I have to take and in what order? When will I begin? What obstacles am I likely to encounter and how will I overcome them?”
6. Failure to take responsibility. What happens to us is the results of our own actions or inaction. We can blame others or circumstances if we want, but that doesn’t help at all. Rather than do something about their problems, some stand around waiting to be rescued by others. They wait for a knight in shining armor to save them, but they wait in vain. Far better to depend on yourself.
7. Trying to do as little as possible instead of as much as possible. Some avoid work as if it were a disease. But when we do as little as possible, we learn and progress as little as possible. This leads to frustration, stress, loss of energy, and less ambition. In other words, we find ourselves in a downward spiral. But when we work as much as possible, we make rapid progress, experience pride, self-respect, and the joy of reaping the rewards that follow a job well done.
8. Failure to apply what we learn. A meal provides no nutrients unless we eat it. Similarly, books, articles, and advice provide no help unless we integrate into our lives what we’ve learned. Neglecting to apply what we’ve learned is the same as not learning it.
9. Failure to regularly monitor one’s progress. How can we correct our course unless we know where we’re going? We need to regularly survey our progress. Are we on course or are we drifting off course? Why leave things to chance when we can monitor our results and make corrections as needed? Also, discovering our mistakes early allows us to learn from them and to nip failure in the bud.
10. Giving up too early. Temporary setbacks become failures only if we stop in our tracks. But if we make it our policy to refuse to give up until we reach our destination, we’ll never fail.
11. Failure to get along with others. Some believe they live in a hostile world, so they act in a hostile manner, alienating others. But those who believe they live in a friendly world trust and support others. As a consequence, they receive trust and support from everyone they deal with. What is your opinion? Do you believe you live in a friendly or hostile world? It doesn’t matter whether your opinion is right or wrong. What matters is whether your opinion works for you or not. Positive thinkers believe we live in a friendly ld, so they get along with others and become successful. In a word, what they are doing works.
12. Failure to be flexible and adaptable. We can tell life where we want to go and what we want to do, but it may have better plans for us, so we have to be willing to change our route to success. If we remain inflexible, stubbornly sticking to a personal goal, we may not recognize a golden opportunity when it appears. For example, I may decide I want to become a famous writer, but life may want me to become a great teacher. As long as I remain flexible, when a teaching opportunity arrives, I will be able to consider it. Besides, my ultimate goal is for success, and either writing or teaching can get me there.
13. A belief that they already know it all or know more than others. When we think we know more than others, we’re not interested in hearing what they have to say and grow deaf to the wisdom offered by others in casual conversations. To benefit the most from life, not only should we carefully listen to what others have to say, but we should be willing to be changed by what we hear. On several occasions, my life was dramatically changed by the words of ordinary people.
14. Lack of commitment. A dream without commitment is no more than a wish. But when we are committed, we are willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. We may have to reach deep, down inside to find it, but commitment is part of the inner resources of all. Just as we may be unaware of vast reserves of oil lying beneath the soil we stand on, many are ignorant of their reserves of commitment. All we have to do is drill down to tap into it, and once it gushes forth, there won’t be anything we cannot do!
15. Looking backward instead of forward. True, some of us were dealt nasty blows in the past. Insurmountable obstacles may have blocked our way. But that was the past. Now it is time to move forward. It is time to plan and prepare for the future. It is time to focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want; time to focus on what we have instead of what we lack, and time to focus on solutions instead of excuses.
Your life is a precious gift. What do you plan to do with it? You won’t have to worry if you do the right things, for then the right things will happen to you.