Photo — alexey-seafarer (Licensed via freepik)
The world we live in is very different from the one that existed only a few decades ago. It has its own set of challenges and opportunities. The playbooks from the past don’t seem to work anymore.
No wonder so many people find themselves stuck with lives that are not working for them at all. And hence, the thriving self-help industry.
But how often do you see people turn around their lives? I’d say not nearly as often as we would love to.
Why? Because turnarounds are hard. It takes some doing to overcome the inertia and put your life on a different trajectory. It’s much easier to just continue on the path, no matter how much you dislike it.
What makes it particularly difficult is, people want different results without having to change whatever is responsible for the results. They want different output while providing the same input.
Needless to say, it doesn’t work like that.
So here are four aspects of your life that have a huge impact on what your future would look like. The good thing is, none of them is fixed. But it is your responsibility to reshape them until they are aligned with the future you desire.
Your mindset is the lens through which you view your entire universe. It determines your perception of everything — past, present, future, people, and relationships. It affects how you interpret your successes and failures. It tells you what is possible and what is not.
Most importantly, it forms your story in your head. It tells you who you are.
It’s your model of reality. And because you think, plan, and act according to that model, it ends up shaping the actual reality you create for yourself and others in your universe.
So work on developing the right mindset — one that propels you forward, gives you the strength and courage to keep going and comforts you when you feel overwhelmed.
Here are a few characteristics of a mindset that’s great for success.
- A strong imagination — so you can see beyond the obvious.
- A desire to explore, learn and grow — so you can keep evolving.
- The belief that with the right attitude, dedication, and persistence, you can overcome almost every difficulty — so you are gritty.
- The understanding that great results take time — so you think long-term.
- A bias towards actions — so you are not forever trapped in the analysis and planning phase.
- A commitment to reason and truth — so you don’t choose what you want to be true over what is true.
Your habits are the default actions you turn to in certain settings (time, surroundings, etc.). And as such, almost half of what you do every day is determined not by conscious choice but by habits.
And because how you spend your days determines what you make of your life, one can say your life is largely the product of your habits.
We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. — Aristotle
So a great way to achieve a goal is to build habits that would push you towards that goal.
For example, if you want to stay fit, make it a habit to exercise daily. If you want to become a successful writer, start with the habit of writing for an hour or two daily.
Success, to a great extent, is about having the right habits and routines.
Even if it’s not obvious, almost everything about your character and identity was shaped by the people who were with you at some point in your life, most notably during your formative years. And it continues to be shaped by the company you keep today.
Sometimes the influence is obvious; for example, where and how you spend most of your free time, what you want to do with your life or what your code of ethics is. On other occasions, it’s a lot more subtle. For example, how you see yourself or how you feel most of the time.
So, be very careful about the people you hang out with. Pay special attention to two things.
- How you feel during and after my interactions with them.
- How it impacts my ability to create and live the life I want for myself.
For example, if meeting someone often spoils my mood, drains my energy, or throws me into a cycle of negative thoughts, I make it a point to stay away from them. Same for people who try to draw me into activities that would take me away from doing what is good for me.
The basic idea is — surround yourself with people who can help you become the person you want to be and achieve the life you want for yourself. Find and spend more time with people on the same (or similar) path but ahead of you.
“In the long-run (and often in the short-run), your willpower will never beat your environment.” — James Clear
A lot of what we do in our lives is in response to environmental cues. If you are sitting in a bar, it’s only natural for you to feel a desire to drink. If your phone is near you or in your line of sight, you will be tempted to reach for it.
So if you want to live a certain way, you must shape your environment to support and encourage that lifestyle.
For example, if you are self-employed, work from home, and want to improve your focus and productivity, here are a few things you can do.
Even though you work from home, dress up like you’re going to the office. Don’t work from your bed. Have a dedicated workspace — even if it is only a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Keep your phone away and have a “do not disturb” rule for the people in your home.
Similarly, if you want to sleep well, make sure your bedroom is dark, cool, and quiet. Again, keep your phone away.
I understand you may have some constraints but do the best you can.
Sometimes, changing your environment can even mean moving to another house or locality or changing your job. But if you can afford it and if it’s worth it, why not?
In a Nutshell
If you want to create a future that’s remarkably better than your present, you must start by focusing on these 4 aspects of your life that have the greatest influence on it.
- Your mindset — cultivate curiosity, belief, integrity, and patience.
- Your habits — build habits that lead to your goals.
- Your company — surround yourself with people that can inspire and guide you to where you want to be.
- Your environment — put yourself in an environment that triggers and encourages the lifestyle you need to succeed.