We all come empty-handed to this world. We all will leave so.
But when we go, most of us hope to leave something behind. A life well-lived. A rich legacy. Not in terms of money, but in terms of character and service.
How do you define success in life?
I think the answer depends on those who are asked. Success means different things to different people.
But to achieve success in life, you must make sure to not waste the precious days and the resources that are given to you.
Your days are your life in miniature. As you live your days so you craft your life.
1. Wasting time on distractions
Today, we are all distracted more than ever. Yes, we used to have screens in the 90s too. But our way of life is different.
The increasing dependence on smartphones has dramatically changed our lives. It has affected especially our ability to focus on our work. Or even simply the ability to wait patiently.
Have you noticed how we don’t let ourselves be bored for even a minute? We have to fill even a ten-minute wait in a restaurant with our phones checking notifications.
We can’t stand in a queue waiting patiently because our brains demand constant stimulation from social media.
Ever wondered what is it doing to our capabilities? We are becoming a generation who can’t lift our heads to notice what’s happening around us, or worse, can’t focus on one task deeply to complete it. It affects our productivity badly.
I recommend reading Cal Newport’s book, “Deep Work” to understand better. He writes about a concept called ‘attention residue’.
Every time we switch from Task A to Task B, our attention doesn’t immediately flow. A residue of our attention gets stuck in the first task.
This residue gets especially thick if your work on Task A was unbounded and of low intensity before you switched, but even if you finish Task A before moving on, your attention remains divided for a while.”
This happens when we check notifications every once in a while. Our attention switches from the current task to the email we just received, and if it’s something that requires to take action or do some thinking, it can really take away our focus from what we are doing.
This produces shallow work.
So, being distracted hurts your productivity and even your career growth more than you think.
What you can do is, schedule time in your day to check emails. I do mine twice a day. And practice controlled use of social media. Like login only once or twice a week to stay updated.
2. BY NOT CHASING YOUR DREAMS
We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.
This thought is deep. When you reach the end of your life, you don’t want to regret, because you are leaving with the song still inside you. Let it come out. Sing your song. It doesn’t matter even if nobody thinks it is good. What matters is whether YOU enjoyed it.
You are wasting your life when you live other’s dreams. Whatever is it that you want in life, take time to do them.
For me, my life is successful, if I could do the things I love and I could be who I want to be. I am constantly trying to evolve and grow. And I can tell you as scary as it may be, it is worth all the fears and roadblocks. Because at the end of it, I know that I did exactly what I wanted or at least I tried.
3. NOT DISCIPLINING YOURSELF
Self-discipline means controlling yourself to your will. It is important to succeed in life because it is what gives you the power to stick to your goals.
You don’t become successful in life by working on your craft for a few days. Or working for it only when motivation strikes. You need to hustle consistently.
Every successful person has routines or habits that help them stick with their vision. You need self-discipline to form new habits and routines.
And developing self-discipline helps you by not giving in to temptations and deviate from your path.
Self-discipline is what will give your days, a structure. You know how to spend your days to maximize your potential. If you lack self-control, you waste your days, and your life because you give in to whatever comes your way.
4. NOT SPENDING TIME WITH FAMILY
Nurses can confirm one of the top regrets of people lying on the deathbed is “I wish I had spent more time with my family”.
And many people regret “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard”. Yes, you must work in life to earn a living and fulfill your dreams. But life is not all about it.
Life is also about creating strong bonds with the people you love. It helps to create a sense of belonging in your kids and develop strong ties and a sense of security within the family members.
At the end of the day, you want people in life who are there for you no matter what. When you spend more time with family you also get to share your day, your joys and disappointments with them, and that builds strong ties.
In the quest for making more money or creating empires, always find time to spend time with your family. Because in the end, what matters is not how much you earned, but how much love you gave away.
5. BY NOT EXPANDING YOUR COMFORT ZONE
The sooner you step away from your comfort zone you’ll realize that it really wasn’t all that comfortable.
-Eddie Harris Jr.
If you want to be successful in life, it means stepping outside of your comfort zone consistently.
A comfort zone is where you feel the safest and you have the least anxiety there. Anything that asks you to face your fears and feel terrified is asking you to leave your comfort zone.
And once you do it, you naturally feel less fear next time. And that’s how you expand your comfort zone.
All my life, I have been terrified of many things. But the ‘burning desire’ in me led to face many fears, and I have never been happier or more confident.
Though I am not quite there yet, I have been conquering each of my fears slowly and I can see the wonderful changes it has brought in my life.
Nothing worth having in life comes to you by staying where you are. So don’t stay stagnant and live the same days again and again till you die. Try to grow yourself constantly and say “yes” to more opportunities even though it scares you.
You don’t have to do everything at once, but tiny steps will do.
6. WASTING LIFE BY WORRYING CONSTANTLY
Success in life worrying is waste of life
Worrying is another life waster. Often we worry about what happened in the past or we regret the mistakes we made.
And we constantly worry about our future too. In the process, we forget to enjoy the present moment that life has gifted us.
I used to be a constant worrier. I would agonize over what happened and let myself wallow in self-pity. And I would keep thinking about what could go wrong in the future. What if I were to lose whatever I have?
But it all changed once I learned about the “Law of Attraction”. After I read the book ‘The Secret’, I understood my constant worrying was bringing me more things to worry about. I had to stop that habit.
I began to overcome worrying by practicing gratitude and mindfulness. Gratitude can change your life. When you express genuine gratitude to even the smallest blessing you have, you become naturally happy. You are so content you don’t have space for worries.
I practice gratitude in my bullet journal. But you can practice it anywhere. Even now, as you are reading this.
Close your eyes and think about everything you love in your life right now. Think deeply about each blessing and each person and how they bring value to your life. Focus only on the positives. It is when we focus on the negatives, we become unhappy.
Tell yourself how happy you are to have your home, your parents, your job etc. Thank the universe or the God you believe in for giving you all these. You will instantly feel lighter.
Mindfulness is, focusing your mind on the present moment. You don’t think about the past or the future. Just be present and aware of what you do. Be aware of your breath and how you are feeling. And do not judge any thought that comes to your mind.
Practicing mindfulness gives you more patience and the ability to stay more connected to yourself. Here is an article I wrote on how to practice mindfulness.
7. LIVING TO PLEASE OTHERS
There are many people who regret not taking action to pursue their dreams. They care too much about other people’s opinions and try hard to impress others. Not only you don’t get to live your life on your own terms, but you live a dissatisfied life.
You always wonder about “what would have been”. Because there is nothing worse than living with regret. Always give your dreams a chance. It doesn’t matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to follow your dreams. And it is better to die being happy that you tried even if you succeed or not.
If you are not enjoying your life, it’s time to make a change. Let’s not waste our one and only shot on this planet.