The ability to keep at something—to not give up—is often underestimated. When working toward a goal, the willingness to work consistently at a sustained level is a critical factor for success. In many cases, perseverance is just as important, if not more important than, talent or intelligence. I might have all the skills in the world, but if I can’t be disciplined about working on my goal every day, talent doesn’t do me much good.
Pay attention to one thing at a time.
It’s easy to say, but there is so much we have to keep track of. It’s also hard to stay focused—to keep our minds on what we are doing without getting distracted or letting our minds wander.
It’s important to remember that we are only capable of doing one thing at a time. At any single moment, our brains can only think about one thing. We may be under the illusion that we’re able to work on several things at once, but what is really happening is that we’re focusing on one thing for a very short time then moving on to something else. We may even be cycling through several tasks, causing us to think we’re focusing on all of them at the same time, but the bottom line is we can only focus on one at any given moment.
Failure is an option.
What’s the worst thing that can happen?
As we go through our lives, we each make decisions about what we are going to do – in our jobs and in our personal lives, the big things and the small things, the important and the trivial. Part of what goes into those decisions are the consequences if we fail.
If we think we might fail, we worry that we’ll waste our time, that we could get hurt or embarrassed, or that the consequences will be dire. We fear failure. We worry about failure. We try to avoid failure.
But if we only do things that guarantee success, we are doing ourselves a disservice. We are not exploring our own personal boundaries. We are not testing ourselves. We’ll never find out what we’re made of.
That little voice inside your head? What guff has that guy been feeding you now?
When you’re thinking about your dreams and aspirations, you might discuss them with your friends, your family, or your parents. These people might tell you that you can do anything you set your mind to, or they might tell you not to try so you won’t be disappointed. They may have your best interest at heart, or they may have ulterior motives.
But the bottom line is that they don’t know you the way you know you.
Throughout your life, you will get a lot of advice. Some of it will be awful. Some of it will be right on the money. Some will be unsolicited, from passing acquaintances, and some welcome, from people who know you well.
But none of it will be from the most knowledgeable perspective. That perspective is yours and yours alone.
We all have the responsibility for our own lives. That may seem obvious, but there’s a big difference between acknowledging that fact and actually incorporating it into how we live our lives. If we truly embrace our responsibility for our lives, we live our lives according to what gives our lives meaning and what makes us happy.
It’s extremely easy to live a reactive life, bouncing around based on what’s happening to you and using external cause and effect as the foundation for where your life is going. But the fact is, the direction our lives take is totally and completely up to us. It may not seem like that sometimes—we all have elements of our lives that seem totally out of our control—but if we take a closer look, we might find that many of those elements are in our lives by choice. We could choose to drop them if it came down to it (see “Choice”). We also might find that we’re letting those things dictate the direction of our lives when we could be taking more control of some of those “out-of-our-control” elements.