Given the opportunity of life is one of the gifts that can be put to great use. I like this quote “Our life is god’s gift to us and how we live it is our gift to god.” That is a great quote and shows that we have an opportunity to use this gift to contribute. Here is my A – Z of life which can help you get the most out of life for you and your loved ones especially in these trying times.
Accept Reality – Life is not easy especially in the circumstances we find ourselves in and even the most optimistic person will face hurdles. Even if you have all the money in the world you would still have some problems. An example is the current crisis where a lot of things are out of our control except self-care and social distancing. The starting point of getting the most out of life is to accept reality as it is. Once you do that you can handle anything life throws at you. It is how your respond to a crisis that determines what you get out of life. Stoicism is a philosophy that has gained a lot of traction over the last decade. One of the tenets of stoicism is to understand the things that are not in our control and things which are. Focus only on the things in your control and ignore the rest.
Boldness – We get one chance at life and none of us know if we will get another chance or how long this one is going to be. This means this is the chance to showcase our brilliance and bring all our talent to the table. Being bold doesn’t mean in my opinion doing scuba diving or jumping from a plane without a parachute. To me it means constantly getting into your zone of discomfort and getting better every day in progress towards your closely held dreams. Again another stoicism principle is to think of things and see it as the last time you are doing something. It is also called negative visualization where you imagine you are doing something for the last time or even this could be the last day. The main theme of doing this is to bring some urgency to our lives and also leads us to appreciate how lucky we are to be alive.
Clarity – Develop an absolute clarity for every area of your life. What do you want your life to stand for? What do you want your career to stand for? What do you want your friends to say about you when you are not there? What do you want your family to say about you? If you are clear in every area of your life you can get more out of yourself. Now with some time available it maybe a good moment to reflect how far you have come in your life and where you want to go from here on in. Your entire life is ahead of you and you can decide how you want to paint your future with broad brush strokes of imagination and creativity.
Discipline – As Jim Rohn said “Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.” All successful people are disciplined with respect to their ultimate vision of what they want their life to stand for. If you have absolute clarity on what you want then discipline will follow. Some of the ways you can be disciplined is getting up early, reading tough books, doing things which are slightly uncomfortable and also staying away from temptations when possible. Another tenet of stoicism is to engage in activities of voluntary discomfort. For example taking a cold shower might be a minor form of discomfort but then you get used to it.
Energy – To get through life you need high levels of energy. There is no way we can get through modern stresses without high energy. This has been repeated a million times because it is true. Take care of your physical, mental and spiritual lives. Sleep well, exercise and eat well. This is the best way to maintain energy and avoid negative input at all costs.
Forward thinking – If you are stuck in the past there is no way you can get the most out of life. All successful people are forward thinkers. They are able to project into the future on all possibilities and they can take action now to prevent any unfavorable outcomes. One way to get over past mistakes is to say the things that had to happen for me to reach this point happened exactly as it should. Even if you made a horrible mistake forgive yourself for it and completely focus on the future. You can turn the wheel of your life and steer it in any direction you like. I think John Maxwell said “You cannot have a brand new beginning but you can begin now and give a brand new ending.” Start from where you are and your past has no bearing on where you can go in your life.
Goals – We all have goals in our official lives but to really build resilience and get the most out life it is important to set goals in all areas of your life. Set goals for your physical health, financial, contribution and have personal hobbies. Review the progress of your goals on a weekly or monthly basis. As Tom Hopkins said “Goals are the fuel in the furnace of achievement.” One example of a goal might be “I complete a half marathon in 2 hr 40 min by Oct 31st 2020.” Once you set the goal you can then put a plan of action to achieve it.
Happy – If we are not happy with who we are it doesn’t matter whatever achievements we stack up. Only we can define what makes us happy. I have defined my happiness project and what it takes to be happy for me. They are accepting yourself as you are, defining your purpose, having personal activities you enjoy, setting goals, having solid relationships, creating a positive environment and finally staying grateful for everything in your life. So define what happiness means for you and it does help you on your journey of life.
Impact – Each one of us want to have an impact with the time we have to live. You can do this by becoming totally passionate about what you do and see how you can help others succeed. The only you can have true impact is if there are others involved in your picture of success. Of course in the current era we have so many avenues to have a public impact if that is what we want in our lives.
Journey – While Steve Jobs said death is the destination we all share I still think we should view life as a journey. Yes of course it will end but I don’t think we can always think it is going to end and expect to get the most out of ourselves. Even if we have some bad days we should understand there will be another day. Your past cannot determine your future. You will encounter obstacles and speed bumps during the journey but overcoming that is our main job.
Kool – All great leaders have been found to be calm and collected in terms of crisis. So be as cool as a cucumber. Think will this matter 10 months from now. If it doesn’t matter get that situation or problem out of your mind immediately.
Love – To get the most out of life love it. Love your life and everything will fall in place. If you love your life you will be happy irrespective of outcomes. Not all outcomes are in our control but the actions leading to the outcomes are in our control. As long as our actions are good we can love life for what it is.
Manage yourself – All of us have the same 24 hours. It is how we manage ourselves within the available time that makes all the difference. One of the best ways to manage yourself is to use the 4D formula. This was mentioned by David Allen in his book “Getting Things Done.” For any activity decide whether to do it, delegate it, defer it or dump it. To manage yourself better also learn to say no. As Stephen Covey said “Only if you have a burning yes you can say no to a lot of unimportant things.” Put your tasks into two buckets one fill it with all the most important items. Then put all the smaller irrelevant items. Imagine you have a jar and put all the big rocks first as Stephen Covey says. Then you can fill it with pebbles.
Never say die – Think like Novak Djokovic and have a never say die spirit towards your life helps increase joy. No matter what happens never give up. Keep coming back. Study the examples of J K Rowling and Steve Jobs to get inspired and never give up. No one can keep a good person down. Keep picking yourself after every setback. As Winston Churchill said “Success is going from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.”
Obsolete – The only skill that will not be obsolete is the ability to learn new skills. To get the most out life you need to be up to date on industry trends, should be able to talk about varied subjects and keep expanding your horizons on a regular basis. If you are not learning continuously you will not have the skills necessary to thrive in a future workplace where excellence is only the entry fee into the battle field of competition.
Practice – Decide what area of excellence you want to target and then focus only on that area by practicing relentlessly. Focus is critical to get the most out of life. Keep practicing in one area till you attain mastery. When Pablo Casals (then age 93) was asked why he continued to practice the cello three hours a day, he replied, “I think am getting better.” That is indeed a great attitude to have and showcases the importance of practice.
Quality – All successful people go for quality in everything they do. They set high personal standards to reach and they ensure all work is of first rate quality. Only excellent quality leads to ultimate customer satisfaction which is the purpose of a business and management. As Vince Lombardi famously said “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
Resilience – Resilience is one quality which can help you bounce back from any setback quickly. The important steps in developing resilience are developing a personal mission statement, having core beliefs which are unshakable, trying to find good in anything negative, maintaining a positive outlook, and reach out to people who can help you.
Serve – The ultimate aim of life is to serve others. To get the most out life we need to serve others with our products or our time. Contribution towards a larger cause increases personal happiness. Having a personal mission statement is another way to bring purpose to your life. My mission statement is to maximise my potential and help others maximise theirs. I came up with this in 2010 and has driven me to read a lot and share everything I have learned through my blog.
Talent – To get the most out of your life believe in your talent. Everyone has unique potential and most of it is untapped. Perform a strengths analysis and find your area of expertise. Focus on that and keep getting better every day. Tapping into your talent increases your love of life. When you are exceptional in anything you do you feel great about yourself and love life as well.
Upbeat – If you want to get the most out of life you need to maintain an upbeat attitude. You can do this by smiling, being enthusiastic in your communication and maintaining an overall optimistic stance. Have positive expectations for all areas of your life. Again these particular circumstances we find ourselves in is an ideal training ground to test how upbeat we are. This is best time to showcase our best self and all of us have the power to do this.
Visualization – All top athletes visualize the best possible outcome before they enter the competitive arena. In the same vein we can all try to picture ourselves succeeding in whatever we do. For example before an important event or meeting we can imagine ourselves doing our best and getting the outcome we want. You can create a vivid picture of the outcome you want. It doesn’t necessarily mean it will happen but if you have done all the preparation needed then with visualization the probabilities of success are increased.
Work Hard – There is no way around it and the fact is we can’t get the most out of life unless we work damn hard. Hard work married with competence is dynamite. If you have talent and if you combine that with hard work then your life will be exactly the way you want it to be. Working hard will always be a requirement for a successful life.
XFactor – What is your XFactor meaning what is the one thing that is unique about you. What one thing differentiates you from your competition and peers. Find that and keep developing that. Once you know what is unique about you it makes you feel great about yourself.
Your true value – Just being alive means you are a truly valuable person. Develop intrinsic value and understand that your life matters. As Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Zeal – Finally have complete zeal for your life. Once you have a mighty cause there is a great enthusiasm for life. This will result in a deep felt happiness that cannot be bought with money or any external possessions. “Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal.” Charles Buxton
There you have it the A –Z of Life. If we follow these tips we can get the most out of our lives and navigate these turbulent times. I hope you enjoyed reading this post.
The views expressed here are my own and do not represent my organization.