You feel crippled on your goal setting efforts.
You have habits you want to stop. Maybe you want to stop eating unhealthy foods. Or stop trying to be perfect. Or stop constantly checking your social media that robs your time.
But none of it still works. Perhaps you failed because giving up something does not work for you.
Sometimes, all you need to do is just to embrace things to get the boat moving.
Each of us needs a great deal of improvement. The past is fixed and immutable. While we cannot do anything about it, we can certainly embrace the present and use it to our advantage.
1. Embrace Harsh Comments
“The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called ‘truth’.” — Dan Rather
She Embarrassed Me and Now What? She scribbled the entire manuscript with her red pen. She flipped every page until she reached the last part. She slowly handed it to the owner and said, “What happened to the college student I knew? You are very irresponsible now! You are so tardy.”
Another voice rose into the scene. And another one. Before I knew it, I was already surrounded by a group of professors. I was in my final semester of my Master’s Degree. I handed my adviser the copy of my manuscript. I expected that I would be receiving some needed feedbacks, but the jabs I got today felt below the belt. I was deeply embarrassed.
I painfully walked out of the room pretending everything is fine. I wanted to hate them for their unsolicited harsh comments toward me. Then I realized that those teachers know how I perform. They don’t just give their opinions out of nothing. They have a basis.
I reflected on what they said, and I realized that I am not giving my best shot at this. I started working on my manuscript properly. I lost count on the times I revised it. I took her harsh comments positively and used them as clues for my progress.
“Congratulations!”, one of the panelists says .“That was a very interesting research! The panel unanimously decides that your rating is “Meritissimus.” It is the highest rating one can get on a manuscript in my university.
I saw my adviser with a huge grin on her face as she approached me and said, “I know you can do it.” I cried. If not because of her way of rubbing the truth on my face, I would never reach that milestone.
Harsh comments can actually wake us up from a long slumber of settling for mediocrity. Getting criticisms can be very uncomfortable. But they are great reflections on the kind of performance we have. Evaluate where the criticisms come from. You can be open to harsh comments to become better directed internally.
2. Embrace Your Failures
“I won’t waste my time in futile unhappiness over my loss. Now must be seized before it becomes: yesterday-I-could-have…” — Jorgen Juhldahl
You are probably working your way to reaching your dreams. You have high energy, but failure seems like a frequent visitor on your journey. Perhaps this story of one woman will show you how failure works for her.
The Most Important Thing Mom Taught Her Daughter. Several years after writing her first book, she ventured to write her second. Feeling accomplished and ready to show it to the public, she went to scout for publishers. Since her first book was a success, one may think she has an advantage. However, odds are not in her favor. Her book was rejected by 36 publishers. She also ran for the gubernatorial race but decided to withdraw a week before the election.
She then decided to launch a website to provide a platform for great voices. It likewise received negative comments from people. Despite series of failures, she is now known as the founder of the popular website, The Huffington Post, Thrive Global and author of 15 books which some landed as New York Times Best Sellers. She is Arianna Huffington.
“My mother instilled in me that failure was not something to be afraid of,” she recalls during an interview. “It is not the opposite of success. It is a stepping stone to success.” This one of the many values instilled by her mom helped her to persevere during hard times and challenges. After all, she adds, “Nobody has succeeded who never failed along the way.”
3. Embrace the Thought that You Can Be the Best of Whatever You Are
“It isn’t by size that you win or you fail; Be the best of whatever you are!” — Douglas Malloch
It was in high school when I had my favorite class ever because of my English teacher who saturated us with literary pieces. She explained the poem to us and part of the assignment was to memorize it. Out of those many poems, this is my ultimate favorite. It serves as my motivation when I am feeling small. It gives me a constant reminder that there is something inside me that I can be best at. It is the poem written by Douglas Malloch:
If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill,
Be a scrub in the valley — but be
The best little scrub by the side of the rill;
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a bush be a bit of the grass,
And some highway happier make;
If you can’t be a muskie then just be a bass —
But the liveliest bass in the lake!
We can’t all be captains, we’ve got to be crew,
There’s something for all of us here,
There’s big work to do, and there’s lesser to do,
And the task you must do is the near.
If you can’t be a highway then just be a trail,
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or you fail —
Be the best of whatever you are!
You can’t be everything to everyone. But you can certainly be something to someone. You can be the best in whatever endeavor you decide to do. You just have to find your best self.
4. Embrace Your Magnificent Obsession
“There is something infinitely better than making a living. It is making a noble life.” — Orison Sweet Marden
There is only one life to live — to use it to help others will make it more worthwhile. This principle was illustrated dramatically by Agnes Bojaxhiu.
Why the Ocean Needs You. Agnes was eight years old when her father died. She spent her adolescence deeply involved in the parish activities. Since she was young, she felt the strong calling within her to help the poor. At age 18, she joined a group of nuns. She was sent to India where she saw the widespread poverty that exists. It immediately impacted her and felt that she has to help those who nobody cared for. She formed the Missionaries of Charity.
She left the convent to live with the poorest of Calcutta. She devoted her life to helping people and opened her home to the dying people. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize Award for her efforts. Saint Teresa of Calcutta as she is now known for said “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.”
Find your gifts and utilize them properly. Share yourself without waiting for compensation or reward. There is no too small or too grand to impact someone’s life. You have that magnificent obsession. Search it. Spread it.
5. Embrace that Nothing in Life is Free
“Anything in life that is worth having is worth working for.” — Andrew Carnegie
Isaac Newton’s Law of Inertia states that an object at rest will remain at rest unless a force acts on it. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and same direction unless a force acts on it. If you want some improvements in your life, then necessary forces and efforts are needed to change your position. It’s the lesson I learned in my marriage life.
How Oversleeping Woke Me Up. I got married in the year 2014 where I migrated to a different country and left my career. During the initial phase of our marriage, I was so excited because of the never-ending dates and travels we did.
When my husband went back to work, I had to stay home alone. For nearly two straight years, I never ceased on complaining about the life I have. I constantly nagged him about not teaching me how to drive. I blamed everyone on my situation and waited for a Divine force to change my situation. Did it change? No.
I woke up one day after almost 18 hours of sleeping that nobody else can help me if I don’t help myself first. My life will remain where it is if I will not move. I realized everything will not be given to me. I desired change. There came hunger for learning and openness to correct what is wrong inside me. I felt lighter. I found out when you are ready for learning, you will recognize it in every way.
Whatever you are harvesting today is the outcome of what you planted in the past. Nothing in life is free. If you want to get the best out of life, a much-needed work has to be paid in advance. If you are not ready to pay the price of success, then you cannot have it. Nobody became successful on something by merely wishing.
6. Embrace Your Difference
“The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.” — Walter Bageoht
Why is He Proud of His Callouses. He looks like a high school player. At barely 6 feet 3, he received unremarkable comments from spectators about his possible performance. He never had the physique that is known for the guys on his field. He was told that he would get trampled and pushed around. These comments fueled his determination to become better. After all, everyone thinks he’s different.
He dedicated his time to improving his craft by aiming to have 2,000 shots a week in the basketball ring. He targets a minimum shoots of 250 a day and 100 before every game. He trained so much to turn his difference into his advantage. “I got a lot of callouses from shooting,” he says.
He is now known in the NBA field as the guy who makes impossible three-point shots possible. Stephen Curry used his difference to dominate the rules for himself. He was named the 2014–15 Most Valuable Player and set an NBA record of 286 threes in the same year. He is undeniably one of the names that create a buzz in the basketball field.
If there is something that holds you back from opportunities because people use that against you, well, you can certainly twist the trend. Your difference can be your major asset. It can be used as your area of excellence. You just need to tap it.
7. Embrace Playing in Private
“Mere gossip anticipates real talk, and to express what is still in thought weakens action by forestalling it.” — Kierkegaard
Why You Shouldn’t Tweet It. With the advent of technology and rise of social media, it can be very tempting to share instantly what your plans are. Venturing into a business, learning a new course, starting up your blog or anything you decide, the best advice for start-ups is to keep it private.
Research shows that announcing your intention of pursuing a new goal can be detrimental to your success. When you tell people what you intend to do, you condition your mind that people think you achieved it already. This could lead to a decline in energy to push for the goal.
Ryan Holiday, on his book “Ego is the Enemy” also explored on this idea. He describes that talking too much about the tasks makes us think that we are close to achieving it even though we have not started anything yet. He asserts that talking and doing compete for the same time and consume our energy. Where to use your energy is your choice. He puts it this way, “The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other.”
If this does not convince you, probably a wise advice from Napoleon Hill will:
“If you talk about your plans too freely, you may be surprised when you learn that some other person has beaten you to your goal by putting into action ahead of you, the plans of which you talked unwisely.”
8. Embrace the Roadblocks in Your Life Right Now
“Everything negative, pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.” — Kobe Bryant
Woman Finds Joy in Wasted Opportunity. After years of sending applications to different agencies, Kristtinne finally got the opportunity she is waiting for. She is scheduled to fly overseas to practice her dream job as a nurse, but still be compensated properly to help others. Her family dropped her off at the airport. They were confident that she is on her way to the next level of her life. They wished her a safe trip and headed home. A few hours later, a call startled everyone. It registers Kristtinne. But why would she call at that time when she’s supposed to be up in the air flying?
“I got offloaded”, she says. “The immigration officer said I lacked one document.” They picked her up from the airport not wanting to utter any word. The mom began crying on the supposed defeat of her daughter. Everyone felt bad for her. Everyone felt depressed. But not Kristtinne. “I am not going to die yet. This just means God has a better opportunity for me.”
A few months later, she boarded a plane, migrated to the place she is supposed to go and is now working on one of the best hospitals in the world. An institution better than the first one. She works with great people. They even offered to extend her contract. Kristtinne’s optimism did not fade when the roadblocks in her life appeared. Kristtinne is my sister. I am proud of her.
In every depression or sorrow, seek for the learning experience. For every challenge, there is an opportunity that awaits behind it if you have a positive attitude. Focus on results rather than roadblocks.
9. Embrace Your Slow Progress
“The only job where you can start at the top is the job of digging a hole.” — Napoleon Hill
Henry Ford spent 12 years before he had the Model-T which is known today as Ford car.
Napoleon Hill took about 20 years of research and work to produced his classic, best seller book, Think and Grow Rich.
Theodore Roosevelt spent most of his teenage life doing gymnastics and weight-lifting to improve his sickly body.
Thomas Edison tried nearly 10,000 times before he got the light bulb right.
Jessica Alba spent three and a half years pitching for her Honest Company before it went live to the public.
Brooklyn Bridge’s construction took 14 years yet still going strong since 1883.
Michael Jordan missed more than 9,000 shots and lost 300 games but he succeeded as one of the great basketball players.
It takes around 365 days for the earth to complete just one revolution.
And the most important thing…it took me nine tries before I got the dinner rolls right.
Webster Dictionary defines progress as a forward or onward movement. No matter how slow it is, it’s still considered progress.
The fact that you are easing forward is a good sign that you are doing well. Do not be intimidated by the achievements of others. It is your own race. Inch by inch, step by step, brick by brick and you’ll get there. “Stay in the fight “til the final round”, as singer Mandisa says it.
10. Embrace Your Definition of Success
“If you believe you can do it, most of the time you can. It’s mind over matter.” — Vernon Wolfe
Adhering to society’s definition of success will drain you. Money, Fame, and Power. Do not pressure yourself with these. Life has more to offer. Success can be achieved every day. No one can define how successful you are. It is your own definition.
Marc and Angel shared in their article how liberating it is when you don’t live in other people’s definition of success. It helps you to fully express yourself. They stressed that no definition of success is better or worse than the other. It’s yours.
Steven Aitchison also reminds us not to spend our lives chasing accomplishments. When you are happy inside, you feel more accomplished. When you use your strengths and qualities to bring a smile to you and others, then you achieved your ultimate success.
11. Embrace the Need to be Schooled
“The burden of learning is on the person who wants to learn, not on the person who wants to teach.” — J. Milburn Smith
You can learn just about anything you want, and you can grasp any skill you wish. Provided, you are willing to learn. Benjamin Hardy illustrated it well on his article Anything is Possible if You Pay the Price.
“You can be who you intended to become”, Hardy says. “You can continue to progress and evolve, even after you’ve become successful and fulfilled.” If we don’t strive to increase the learning we have right now, we will likely get behind. On this fast-changing world, those who can adapt easily are the people who are willing to be taught and accept that there is always a space for learning.
You stop growing when you stop learning. Find an effort to learn something new in any way you can that are consistent with what you want to achieve. Take the proper action to apply the information you learned.
12. Embrace Alone Time
“The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Being alone is often equated with anxiety and depression. If you look at it from a different angle, you can actually use it to help yourself. Take it as an opportunity to revisit your life. Check what’s working and not. Find what drains your energy. Know yourself more.
The Shocking Comment That Blew Me Away. My best friend once spotted me eating alone in a restaurant after shopping. She was surprised and asked me if I don’t feel sorry for myself. I was more surprised on that comment. I actually enjoy being out alone sometimes because it gives me more time to read books or eat what I want without someone complaining.
It is in quiet time that our best ideas occur to us. It is also affirmed by Leigh Weingus on Huffington Post that spending time alone can free your mind and will get you to do what you want to do. In the process, you become more creative.
Whether you got laid off, came from a recent break-up, or waiting for a job, embrace this alone time. Treat it as a golden phase that will help you to target your goal better.
13. Embrace Other People’s Achievements
“Seeking your own self-interests above all else is the most destructive and unfulfilling way to live.” — Philippians 2:3
Feeling a little behind? Does it seem like all trains are moving forward except yours? Why can’t you feel happy for others? This story will tell you you’re not alone:
Keep Doing It Until It Hurts No More. The familiar sound of Viber dominates the room. I picked up to see who it is…Mom. We talked for several hours where she proudly shared other people’s accomplishments. I was pretending that I actively listen to her, but let’s be real. I wanted to tell her that it’s not really what I want to hear. Immediately after hanging up, I felt depressed. I felt I was left behind. I felt insecure. It’s very selfish, right?
For years, I have suffered from insecurity and jealousy when others achieved more than I have. It is a fault I recognize that I constantly pray for every day. As I mature, I learned to be more loving of others.
To evaluate myself every day, I spend some time on social media to see what accomplishments others have and make the proper comments. I know how being recognized feels like, so I constantly practice validating other people’s efforts. I make it a daily habit until my system gets used to feeling happy for others. I don’t feel the jealousy anymore. I always remind myself that everyone deserves to be happy and excel. There’s enough room for happiness for everyone. Enrich your own life by enriching the lives of others.
When we stop hating and be happy for the success of others, it can free us from frustration and worry, establish a good relationship with others and attract more positive energy. What you share will multiply and grow. What you withhold will disappear and decrease. Choose to share happiness and love and it will come back to you hundredfolds.
Wherever stage you are right now, you can be better than yesterday. Choose to embrace one or two. Remember, you are not alone in your desire for improvement. Every day is a battle with ourselves. When all is said and done, the journey is the reward.
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Originally published at medium.com