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Don’t plan for 2018. Make the first steps towards your dreams for 2020

I laid out the foundations for 2017 three years ago. Here is what I learned in the process

Photo by Michael Dam  

In 2017 I checked several significant items off my bucket list. I took the most important personal decision (with the most important person) in my life; completed the science degree I dreamed about in 2014, decided to put my health and well-being first and quit my big corporate job to contribute to something much more important: our decades-old family business. 

The lessons I learned would have made my life so much easier if I had realized them 10 years ago:

Planning will take you where you want to go faster than anything else.

Planning for long-term goals immediately helps you to focus on the things that matter and to identify low-priority activities which can be set aside or be downright neglected. 

You do not have to stifle yourself with a rigid plan which leaves no room for improvisation. The trick is to have a plan answering “Why”, When” and “What” you want to achieve in the long-term.

 Once you have identified these three things and you have the fundamental framework of your plan, the details surrounding “How” become a matter of constant fine-tuning. New goals and new plans can (and should) emerge along the way, but if you have your eyes set on the Big Prize, you will know what is worth your time and what is not.

Good Things Come to Those Who…Work Hard While Waiting

Big goals take a lot of time and effort. 

I have noticed that many people start with high expectations and give up after the first minor obstacle or after they fail to see quick results.

The truth is that the bigger the dream, the more patient and hard-working you need to be to achieve it.

You will have to learn how to wait. And by “waiting” I do not mean staying passive. I mean continuing to work while having the patience to expect results later on.

Want to achieve your dreams? Stay healthy, well-rested and motivated by spending time on things you love

 I spent almost 2 years sleeping 4-5 hours a day to be able to work and complete my MSc degree and the burnout I  reached nearly destroyed my health. Now I know better, and I always combine spells of strenuous hard work with quality time with friends or family, exercise and all activities which help me “charge my batteries”, improve my mood and get rest

In fact, research shows that regular physical activity improves your cognitive abilities and taking a break helps you to be more focused and productive. What is more, Harvard recently published the results of more than 80 years of research, showing that life-satisfaction and health are directly related to the quality of your relationships.

Big dreams are usually long-term, hard-to-earn goals. Think about them as marathons rather than sprints. To reach the finish line, you need to learn how to stay healthy and motivated, not how to run as fast as you can.

Want to become a better version of yourself in a few years? Spend time with people who are better than you

Truly accomplished people strive to build others up. They are happy to pass on what they know and naturally spread their positive energy and enthusiasm to others. 

Find these people and cherish them. If they are much better then you, cherish them even more. The only way to grow is to realize how much you do not know. Don’t be afraid to know less than the people around you: this you help you to learn and improve yourself rapidly.

“If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”- Confucius

Tomorrow depends on the energy you have Today. Never waste it on toxic people 

It can be hard to disengage from toxic behaviour, but if you do not do it, you are ruing your present and future opportunities. Whether the relationship is personal or professional, toxic people are excellent manipulators. They make you feel everything is your fault and trick you into believing you have no choice. But you do- you always have a choice.

Don’t confront toxic people or apologize to them. Nothing will be good enough. Toxicity is a result of deep-rooted insecurity, long-term emotional and psychological damage and it is not your job to fix it. Unless they are friends or family and you really want to help them: disengage and leave this person behind. 

Never forget that some people will hate you not because you lack something but because you have things they do not have.

You deserve positive, mature and emotionally stable people in your life.

The lessons in a nutshell:

Visualize Where you want to be, What you want to achieve, When you want to achieve it and most importantly: Why. Do not build your life around trying to impress others. You will waste precious time and energy and end up bitter and disappointed

– Reverse-engineer what you have to do to achieve the Where, What, When and Why and continuously update How you want to achieve it: add new micro-goals and adjust to changes

– Work out! Your physical health directly impacts your cognitive abilities and your long-term health

– Leave time for the people you love, your passion projects and hobbies. One day you may realize you have achieved a significant goal by merely accumulating activities you enjoy over an extended period of time 

Focus on what is truly important, not what is urgent. That way you will be able to free up your time by giving up activities with low priority

– Always trust in yourself, but never underestimate the impact of the people around you. Seek those who support you, give you fair and constructive judgement (which might sometimes be negative) and who inspire you to become a better person. Don’t hesitate to leave haters and naysayers behind.

Be passionate. Be patient. Be a better version of yourself in a few years

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