Success is the ultimate aim in whatever we’re doing, and this aim can bring such stress and anxiety that many usually quit before trying hard enough. But what does it mean to try hard?
As a teacher, I usually advise my students to never ‘study hard,’ but rather to study smart. And this goes for anything in life, really. The harder we are on ourselves, the more rushed and irrational choices and decisions we tend to make.
So, how to succeed by trying smart instead of hard? Here are 11 things you need to know if you want to achieve anything you want in life.
1. Motivation is the spark, commitment is the fuel
We often seek motivation in activities we’ve already been motivated to engage into. The thing is, motivation is the key to every activity we undertake, but commitment helps you remain true to the goal you’ve set. And commitment means being ready to go through any challenges and stay consistent with what you’re doing.
2. Knowledge is the way to good results
On your way, you might often think about what the results are of your hard work. However, we rarely stop and ask ourselves what valuable information we have gathered along the way. Without the necessary knowledge you’ve acquired in your efforts, you can’t continue to the next steps. That’s why it’s important to focus on the knowledge rather than the result.
3. See it as a journey, not a battle
And make the journey fun. The minute you start seeing your efforts as something serious, your mind will start accumulating tense emotions and anxiety. The ultimate outcome of taking everything so seriously is losing perspective and becoming stuck again. You’re doing what you like to do, so why not see it as something that aligns with your dreams and have fun while doing it?
4. Don’t focus on thoughts that lead to stagnation
It’s only natural that during the process your mind will start generating different kinds of thoughts and emotions. There will be those that will make you emotionally sick (such as doubts and fear) and those that will help you to move forward (excitement, experimenting, trying new things). When you have both options, why focus on that which will ultimately lead you to stagnation and worry?
5. Focus on the positive
Everything is made up of a positive and a negative side – there’s no exception. You have a say in what you’re going to perceive and focus on. When things go well, it’s only understandable that you will be filled with positive energy. And when you start experiencing difficulties and tougher challenges, it’s your choice what’s going to be happening in your head. You can always find something to learn and appreciate even in the seemingly most negative situations. Here’s a challenge: think and say positive things for only 3 days. See what happens.
6. You’re not being nice to yourself by being nice to yourself
In times when things get challenging, we decide to give ourselves a time out and wait for a better opportunity, a perfect timing, you name it. However, this leads to inaction, and inaction leads to stagnation and sometimes even depression. So, instead of lying to yourself to feel better, get out there and step into the fire. Challenging yourself is the best way to achieving anything you can think of.
7. Distractions lead to failure
We often like to indulge ourselves in those easy little things that don’t serve any purpose and lead us away from the action we need to take. Especially when things get a bit tough. To avoid this, write a list of time-wasters and remind yourself not to do those things.
8. You shouldn’t rely on others
If you want something done, do it yourself. You should never hold people to expectations about the things that depend on you. Delegating tasks seems like a convenient thing to do, but people will be people, and we all have our business to tend to. So why toss your responsibilities on the backs of others? It’s all on you, don’t forget!
9. Planning is key
You should always know what your next three steps will be. Keeping track of your activities and knowing what’s waiting for you after you’re done with the current one is very important. So, get busy and fill out your weekly calendar with what you need to do, when you’ll do it, and how. Review each day and ensure that you’ve finished your tasks as you’ve planned them.
10. Spontaneity brings all the fun
While planning and spontaneity are two different worlds, your job is to know how to combine them in a smart way. So, you have your plans, you have set the activities you need to undertake, and now it’s time to improvise and do the things as naturally and pleasantly as you can. For this, you need to allow yourself to be more spontaneous and consider any alternatives when obstacles come in the way.
11. Don’t let yourself burn out
Work is important, but so is rest. When you notice yourself feeling burnt out and tired, make sure you put everything on hold and have some shut-eye. You may find it counterproductive to take naps or relax when you’re in the middle of a big plan, but it’s actually very important that your mind stays sharp and concentrated. There should be balance in everything, work-rest included.
And whatever you do, don’t give up. The only failure is when you stop trying. Of course, there will be challenges and you won’t always succeed at first, especially in the later stages of your big project, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed at all.
If something’s not working out, change the way you do things and experiment. Success means persisting through the odds and challenges that will test your wish to succeed. Don’t give up!