Your success story is not a comparison game. You aren’t doing as well as someone else is doing poorly.
But the truth is that a decade or two down the line, you’re going to look around and see that some people are content with their lot in life, and others aren’t.
And what you’re going to realize is that the people who are happy made a commitment to build the lives they wanted many years prior.
Yes, that requires the right habits and skills and commitments. But it also requires you to let go of all the lukewarm noise in your life — you only have so much energy, and where it goes each day determines your future.
Here’s what you need to stop giving yourself to if you really want to get ahead:
1. Your short-term mindset. You cannot find lasting happiness in a life that’s built around trying to survive the day, week or month. You need to start making decisions for longevity, to build yourself into the person you want to be in 10 or 15 years.
2. Your old vision. Your life did not, and will continue to not, turn out the way your 18-year-old self thought it would. That is not because you have failed, it’s because you grew up and made decisions for the person you are, not the person you were. Let it go.
3. Hollow relationships. You know you are going to be most heavily influenced by the people you spend the majority of your time with. If your relationships are disingenuous, what is that doing to your psyche?
4. Your naïveté. Seeing the best in people is good. Believing it despite contrary evidence is not.
5. Resistance to suffering. Everything in your life is going to cause you some degree of pain. Absolutely everything. The question is not what you can do to absolve or avoid pain altogether, rather, deciding what would be worth enduring it in the end.
6. Other people’s approval. Some people aren’t going to understand your life path. Others will feel threatened by it. Others will be jealous. Others will think you’re failing. Others will be different. And none of it can have any bearing on how you feel about it ever again.
7. Perfectionism. Commit your life to doing one or two things as well as possible, and let the rest go. You cannot do everything perfectly, and trying to will reduce you to the point that you do nothing well at all. You do not have to be everything.
8. Responding to comfort cues. You have to learn how to balance your immediate wants and needs with your long-term priorities. If you only did what you “wanted” in any given moment, you’d probably be unemployed, broke and alone.
9. Your abrasiveness. How you interact with the world is who you become in the world. No, you don’t have to live your life trying to get others to like you. But you do need to understand how to build and sustain the relationships that do matter, and a big part of that is just learning how to be nice to those who deserve your niceness, even if you are in a bad mood.
10. Any last trace of your victim mindset. Unfair things will happen to you and they will not be your fault. That is true for everyone. That is life. What matters is whether or not you allow those events to limit what you will and will not do going forward.
11. Working for the revenge moment. If your goals are mostly based on the loose idea that one day — some day — the people who denied, bullied and rejected you will see how fit/successful/happy you are and regret their actions, you are setting yourself up for true unhappiness. That moment will never come, and even if it does, it won’t fill what’s missing inside of you right now. Let it go.
12. Saying what people want to hear instead of what you really think. Learn how to be honest about what you think and feel without being rude. Learn to be real and also be kind. In that lies your greatest power.
13. Shit talking. Reviewing and focusing on what’s wrong in your life and what you think is wrong in the lives of others is doing absolutely nothing to make you better or move your life along.
14. Being overdramatic. Constantly question your thoughts and feelings. Constantly ask yourself: is that thought reflective of reality? Is that feeling an honest representation of who I am and what I want and how I perceive the world? You will see over time how much of your natural response systems are exaggerated.
15. Choosing what’s comfortable over what’s important. Nobody feels like working out or diffusing an argument or eating a healthy meal or finishing up a project before its deadline. But you have to learn to prioritize. You cannot live your entire life reacting to your momentary desires. You’ll sabotage everything that way.
16. Waiting for something else to complete you. Keep working toward the life you want, but enjoy the life you have. There’s no future event or relationship or accomplishment that will fill you indefinitely. You can only doing that by connecting to the present moment, and finding joy there. If you cannot do it now, you will not be able to do it later. It’s not something you earn, it’s not something a force outside of you creates. It’s a habit and a skill you develop over time, and it takes time, too. Start now.