Success isn’t simply a product of doing more — gaining more skills, more education, more certificates or promotions.
What’s even more important, in fact, are the habits and things you need to give up along the way to improve. Much of the baggage we hold onto throughout life is what really holds us back from actualizing our potential.
Here are the four key aspects of your past life you should re-evaluate on your road to becoming the best version of yourself possible.
1) Your parents’ beliefs
You know how it goes. Your initial political opinions, your foundational behavioral strategies, your work ethic — much of that is a product of the beliefs and assumptions held by those who raised you and the people you grew up alongside. You might like a certain football team because your dad was a fan, for example.
Or, more damagingly, you might believe that the game of life is rigged and your chances at success are fundamentally suppressed because that was the dominating mood of your hometown.
Unsurprisingly, many of the attitudes and beliefs we inherit from our parents, friends, and hometowns end up holding us back. So, to truly grow and progress in life — to actualize your potential — you need to rid yourself of any beliefs that dampen your ambition or belief in yourself. You must adopt new ways of thinking — an appreciation for the importance of courage and open-mindedness — which are more conducive to uninhibited effort.
Similarly, that might mean you need to leave certain friends and loved ones behind.
This is something I’ve personally experienced. To this day, there are people from my hometown who I deeply love, but who I’ve had to let go of. The reason? In my aspiration to become an entrepreneur, they wanted to slow me down. They didn’t want me to leave town. Maybe it was ego; maybe it was envy. But they wanted to keep me back there with them. They didn’t have future-focused mindsets. They didn’t get excited about what was possible.
The old adage is true: you are who you surround yourself with. If “your people” hold you back, you have to leave them behind.
2) Your bad habits
Likewise, to be your best self, you need to ditch any and all bad habits you picked up at home or on your journey to where you are today.
As I’ve written about before, success is determined less by talent than it is by the way you practice — the things you do and the choices you make every day, over and over again. It benefits you to make sure, then, that the habits you hold onto and practice every day are as conducive to ultimate success as possible.
Your bad habits will only lead you to practice and live in an unproductive way. They — like your old beliefs — must be left behind. Invest instead in the habits which promise productivity and growth.
3) Your old priorities
Priorities inevitably change as you grow and tackle new challenges.
Some of you might find that scary, but trust me: this is a good thing. Let your priorities change. If you’ve got a good head on your shoulders, as you learn more about the world and the things you want, your priorities will need to change.
Your old priorities, on the other hand, represent an older, less effective version of you. They serve the dreams you used to have. As your dreams change, your priorities need to, as well.
4) Your old goals
Finally, like your priorities, the goals you at one time wanted to achieve will likely become irrelevant as you grow and identify new paths forward.
Maybe when you were younger you wanted to be a professional athlete, or a cop, or a fireman.
That’s fine — but, more than likely, as you grow, you’ll more purposefully identify “your lane.” The things you’re really good at and that excite you as the adult, educated, more ambitious version of yourself.
Personally, as I’ve grown and developed my career as an entrepreneur, certain goals that I couldn’t have foreseen before have become infinitely more important to me. I now aspire above everything else to be a good father, so it’s to that end that my goals align. I also know that what really excites me professionally is public speaking. That, too, is where I know new opportunities stand. So one of my professional goals now is to be the best public speaker I can be.
But to most effectively achieve these goals, I know I have to let go of the old dreams. They’d only distract me.
The truth is, to move on to the next level of your life, you need to get rid of the things that aren’t furthering your progress.
This is hard, yes. It’s hard to step away from old friends and to let go of our dream of becoming a professional athlete. But the truth is, to be more selective in designing the kind of person we want to be is to be more efficient in actually becoming that person.
Don’t distract yourself. Don’t hold yourself back. Identify the future you want. Then, operate with ruthless efficiency in turning that future into a reality.
Originally Posted on The Ascent.
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