Most days, it's really hard to stop and smell the roses. It might be raining or you're rushed, not in the mood, too busy, stressed, confused and tired. You look to weekends for salvation, but it never comes.
Day after day, your life begins to seem a shadow race to enrich bosses, landlords and loan servicers, then spend your free time running from the weekday drudgery and bills, often with frenemies, not friends. Slowly, but surely, you begin to lose control.
How do you stop the vicious circle? Get a grip.
Here are the principles I've used to overcome hard circumstances, time and time again, and keep on chugging right along, no matter what:
1) Always be filtering and calibrating.
Filter and calibrate the words you say to others - you can't take them back. The less you say, the more you're heard. Filter the words you choose to hear from others. Set your limits. Filter information carefully. Between email, FB and LinkedIN, filter news feeds for the useful things you need.
Listen, much more than speak. Take time to understand what's going on before making conclusions. Choose carefully the food you eat, music you hear, the books and articles you read, people you spend your time with, HOW you spend your time.
Filter the crap out every day, in every part of life. Leave only good things, things that move you forward toward goals. Your desk, your house show quickly how your mind is. Remind yourself that life is short and you have limits to your health and energy. Make your experiences count.
2) Embrace uncertainty. Don't run from it.
Create a plan for how to deal with stress (that doesn't end up with you drunk or high, but rested and refreshed).
Create a plan for how to get to information that you need to make decisions that make sense. Take *calculated* risks. Ask people that have been through this, but earlier in life. Use Quora to ask questions. Use your social networks. There's always help out there. You never have to "brave it" by yourself (and often make mistakes, for no good reason).
Go with the flow. Sometimes there is no beaten path or wisdom you can use. Uncertainty brings out the best in you - your ingenuity, your wit, your problem-solving skills - and often, your true character. Use your best judgment and don't be afraid to make mistakes. The vast majority of us adults have made mistakes - some of us, each and everyone inside that book. Still, here we are, still kicking.
Worst case, you go through crazy times and write a book or blog.
3) Prepare beforehand, not last-minute.
Always do careful research before making big decisions (your housing, schooling, choosing mates and jobs). Prepare your lunch the night before. Wash dishes and take out the trash each day. Clean up after yourself right now, not later. Create a plan for finances. Plan out your meals ahead of time. Sit down before the meeting and prepare your talking points. Learn carefully who's sitting on the other side before giving someone your money (or before you take it). Don't "wing it," hoping for the best. Serious people see right through frivolity.
4) Be kind. Don't rush to judge - yourself or others.
You don't know what the other person's dealing with in life. You haven't walked inside their shoes. As for yourself, you're always capable of greater things than you expect. When you are judging yourself harshly always, you are stifling your potential. Leave room for missteps and mistakes. Measure yourself against your own potential, not what others think. When you can learn to be more kind to self, you will become more kind to others, too. The two go hand-in-hand.
5) Leave no person worse off for having dealt with you (Hippocratic Oath).
This way, people will find you valuable. People include employers, friends and mates, as well as business partners, customers, investors and so on. Once you resolve to add some value to each person's life you meet, you push your boundaries beyond the social norms to greater creativity, experiences and success in whatever you do. Some call it good karma, others good sense, but either way, when you do good for others, you do well.
6) Choose Yourself (thanks, James Altucher).
That means putting away your phone at dinner, checking email at only set times in the day, making time to do the things you love with people you love. It means focusing on your mission in life (and first, finding that mission) and not letting yourself be led astray by manipulators and people that unduly want your money and time. Stand firm and don't be easily swayed. Move on from bad experiences and learn from them, with the goal to never repeat them.
7) Guard your time zealously.
As the old saying goes, the way you spend your days is the way you spend your life. Don't waste time with people that add nothing positive to your life. Don't waste time on worthless experiences. It's ok to be bored and not on your phone or computer. That's when long-lost thoughts about the meaning of life may show up and lead to great insights. That's when business ideas may pop into your head. That's when you may remember to call your Mom, for once, or a long-lost friend. Re-connect with yourself and your values by valuing your time above every other resource, including money.
8) Focus on your own mission and fulfilling your own potential, not comparing yourself or caring what others think of you.
Friends come and go. Celebrities in the news come and go. Your Facebook news feed changes every second. You are still here and have things to do in life. Focus on improving yourself and getting things done, day in day out. Don't worry about others and what they're doing, what they own or where they vacation. When you focus on what you enjoy doing in life, you ultimately do well and good things happen. Be patient and stay focused and thirsty, my friend.
Print this out and keep it above your desk. I promise your life will be the better for it.
Do you have other principles that have transformed your life? Please share them with the Community in Comments below. We’d love to hear from you!
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Yuri Kruman is a Healthcare Product Manager, published author, blogger at BlueprintToThrive.com and health tech entrepreneur based in New York.
*The views expressed herein are his own*