How to declutter your life


Do you have a problem with clutter? Would you like some tips for how to declutter your life?

Clutter is perhaps the greatest curse of modern living. You keep buying and acquiring possessions but rarely do you have a good clear out, right?

It’s not easy of course. We all build up an emotional attachment to our possessions. However gradually your possessions are taking over your space and your life, right? And your world keeps getting smaller, doesn’t it?

Clutter just adds stress to your life and managing all your possessions can be a struggle. It’s a problem of course but what’s the answer? The answer is to develop the habit of ruthless decluttering. Do this and your life will be a lot easier. Keep your life as simple as possible and you’ll find it a whole lot less stressful.

Here are 8 tips for eliminating clutter in your life:-

  1. Personal inventory management:

We all have possessions and most of us have far more than we need. So the active management of your possessions is a continuous process.

Have a regular review of your possessions and be ruthless about getting rid of things you don’t need anymore.

It’s hard to get rid of everything all at once of course, so just do a little decluttering regularly and as often as you can.

  1. The one year rule:

If an item hasn’t been used for a year then you probably don’t need it at all. And if you don’t need it, get rid of it.

Perhaps you could sell it on eBay or in a garage or boot sale. Alternatively give it to a charity shop. However don’t make the desire to sell it the reason why you hold on to an item.

If you can’t get rid of it quickly, get rid of it anyway. The point is to minimize the clutter in your life and allow someone else to make use of an item if you no longer can. 

  1. Buy only what you need:

It is so easy to buy anything now that all too often we buy things without giving serious thought to whether we will use them or not.

For instance, we are browsing online and we see something that looks like an amazing bargain. So out comes our flexible friend and we purchase the item. The item arrives a day or two later and it goes into our wardrobe, a drawer or wherever and it’s then largely forgotten.

The instant gratification we got from making the purchase has largely subsided by the time the item arrives.  We mean to use it of course but all too often it never gets used. And when that happens it wasn’t a bargain at all it was simply a waste of money.

So before you buy anything ask yourself a few questions. Do I really need it? Will I really use it? Can I really afford it? If I didn’t have it, would it really matter? Unless you can be sure it fulfils a genuine need then it’s better not to buy. 

  1. Never impulse buy:

All too often impulse buys are a mistake. So it’s better not to browse online stores or do any window shopping in real stores.

Decide exactly what you need to buy in advance and then only go shopping for specific items. Stick to buying only what you have actually planned to buy because it fulfils a genuine need in your life. 

  1. The ‘one in, one out’ rule:

For clothing especially, rather than have your wardrobe bursting at the seams, each time you purchase a new clothing item it’s a good idea to see if there’s an old one you can throw out, sell or give to charity.

Nowadays you don’t have to throw things away literally. If it’s not too old and still in fair condition then you might be able to sell it on eBay or a Boot sale.

Alternatively perhaps you could give it to a charity shop.

Whatever your chosen approach to the disposal of items, you have to be ruthless to avoid holding on to clothing you’ll never wear again. 

  1. Don’t form an emotional bond with your possessions:

If you throw out an item you no longer use the world will not end. You’re not tied to your possessions and you’ll not experience physical pain should you get rid of them.

Individual items that you possess are simply a small and unimportant part of you. They don’t define you and they don’t control you.

They were there only to serve a purpose and if circumstances have changed and they no longer serve that purpose then it’s time they no longer played any part in your life at all.

Parting with possessions is not a bereavement. You’ll get over it quicker than you might imagine. Probably within minutes. 

  1. Enjoy the freedom:

Unburdened by unnecessary possessions you can enjoy a stress free life without all that clutter weighing on your mind.

You’ll be able to find those things you really need much quicker because they’ll no longer be buried beneath all that clutter. 

  1. Enjoy your space clutter-free:

Why live is a space dictated by clutter when you can live in space dictated by you?

You should be the master of your own space. Never be a slave to clutter.

Get the declutter habit and get it now.

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How to be happy in life

Diagram of success

How to be happy in life is a question frequently asked. If you’re going to be happy then one thing you need is a sense of purpose. Your work takes up one third of your life so it’s essential that you’re happy doing whatever you do. If the question on your mind is how to be happy in life then to find the answer it’s worth reflecting on your work and thinking about whether it’s right for you.

Does your work make you happy? Do you believe your contribution to your job is something which only you can supply? Would you say your work is aligned with your natural talents? Certainly if your job is a mismatch with their natural talents then you’re not going to be very happy.

Spending your life doing something you don’t enjoy is such a waste. You have so much natural talent that could be put to better use. Yes, it’s true every job has its chores. Things you have to do which you hate but accept as part of the job. No job is perfect. However tedium should be a small part of the whole work experience. To feel happy and fulfilled doing the work you do means you should enjoy at least 80% of your daily activity.

What happens if the job you do and your talents are mismatched? Human beings of course are flexible and adaptable. So even in the worst job situations people survive but at what cost to themselves? The further you are from applying your natural talents and abilities, the less likely it is that you will enjoy your work. And the less likely you are to be happy in life.

If you’re not happy then it’s difficult to make a genuine contribution to life and the lives of other people. And this matters, particularly for those people who are your loved ones.

If your loved ones have to deal with someone who is doing a job they don’t enjoy then it can make their lives miserable too. In fact it can be no pleasure for anyone around you.

If you derive no pleasure from your work then life just becomes a grind. Also it becomes stressful which is not good for your health.

The best and least stressful way to earn a living is by pursuing your interests and something which you both enjoy and is compatible with your natural talents. This is how to be happy in life.

If society encouraged people to pursue their interests and work to their strengths then we would not only be happier but we would become more productive.

And of course productive lives are happy lives too. We would all benefit and society would reap benefits too.

So think about your natural talents and how you can best apply them. Be happy in what you do and if you have yet to find work that makes you happy, keep looking.

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Why the education system fails children

What is the point of the education system if it’s not to prepare young people for adult life? Reading, writing and arithmetic are essential subjects of course because you can’t get too far in life without basic skills in those subjects. However where the education system fails children is in the complete lack of any teaching in other essential life skills. Important subjects like personal finance are not covered at all.

Amazingly we don’t teach our children about money or personal finance. Surely children should learn about how money is earned; how to manage money; how to budget to ensure they can pay their bills; and how to spend their money wisely. They should also learn about how they should prioritize expenditure to avoid getting into a financial mess.

Children should learn about debt. They should know the difference between secured and unsecured debt and the impact this will have on interest rates applied. They should learn about how compound interest can quickly turn a relatively small debt into a large debt. Credit card debt being the classic for this problem.

They should know that interest rates matter. They should also learn that they should never go into debt for the purchase of discretionary items. Better they save up for that discretionary purchase before they buy.

They should learn about how work is just doing stuff for other people in exchange for money and that the more value they can add through their skills the more they will earn. They should also be taught about the economics of supply and demand.

Kids should understand the difference between trading their time with one employer for a wage and the opportunity to serve multiple customers through their own creativity and their ability to create products which solve problems for customers. Essentially they should know the difference between employment and self-employment.

They should also learn about wealth, pensions and how to achieve financial freedom through putting money aside on a regular basis and investing it wisely. They should be positively encouraged to work towards achieving financial freedom.

Children should learn about the impact that inflation will have on the value of their money and how this can affect their savings, particularly for old age. They should also be taught about risk and its relationship with reward.

Children should learn about taxes and how the money they pay in taxes will be spent and often squandered by government. They should know that there is no such thing as government money only the taxpayer’s money. They should know that it is in fact their money being spent by government.

They should also know when governments borrow money this is simply the means for spending today and then passing the bill on to future generations. Borrowing is not a free lunch. Someone eventually must bear the interest payments as well as the repayment of the capital sum borrowed in future years.

Children should learn to question how their money is being spent and how to register their disapproval if they’re not happy with what is being done with their money in their name.

Sadly most people have little understanding of money which means they can be easily conned by sharp business practices, particularly in Financial Services, and by politicians driven only be their own self-interest.

Perhaps that’s why schools are not encouraged to teach personal finance as a subject. Parents should demand that their children are taught about money. If the education system fails children then, as parents, we must shoulder some of the blame. We will continue to get what we tolerate.

What do you think dear reader? Is this a fair point? Do you think teaching children about money is the responsibility of the school or should someone other than their school have that responsibility? Their parents for instance?

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Why you should take your work seriously

How do you regard work? Perhaps for you it’s a source of income but by no means a passion? Perhaps it’s something you must do because you need the income but it doesn’t really leave you feeling motivated to do the best job you can do? Perhaps mostly you’re just going through the motions, doing the minimum you can get away with each day and longing for the weekend? Perhaps you prefer to spend your time in the office chatting and drinking coffee with your workmates? Does that sound like you or perhaps a slightly exaggerated version of you?

If that’s not you and your work is your passion then this article is not for you. However it is aimed at readers who feel less than energised by the work they’re currently doing.

Work is your livelihood:

If you’re not pulling your weight in your current job then you should know that it won’t have gone unnoticed. Just because your boss has yet to say anything doesn’t mean he or she hasn’t noticed. And if you’re building a reputation for being a slacker then it’s only a matter of time before the company will find a reason to get rid of you, if you’re not careful.

You must appreciate that a business cannot carry costs which add little or no value to that business. That is, it can’t if its aim is to survive anyway. Commercial reality will very quickly kick any business in the butt should its management fail to keep a tight control on costs. Companies are not registered charities. Any costs must be covered by prices charged. If a business bears unnecessary costs for long then the result will be pricing that is simply uncompetitive.

Think about that for a second. As a consumer, if Company A is selling a product at a lower price than Company B, where will you buy it? You’ll go for the best price every time. No customer loyalty will survive even a small saving in price.

So if you’re not adding value potentially you’re at risk of losing your job. Your work is your livelihood, so losing your job could actually hurt you. In fact the best way to appreciate your job is to imagine your life without it.

Work provides you with a sense of purpose:

The very essence of what work is all about is simple. Work is just doing stuff for other people in return for money. It gives us an income but it also gives us a sense of purpose.

Through work we apply our skills and knowhow to deliver an output or an outcome for someone else. That may be an individual or an organisation but either way we are paid for what we actually deliver. Essentially that is the psychological contract we enter into when we agree to do work for someone.

If we’re not delivering what we’re paid to deliver then we’re not doing our job properly. We are not fulfilling the psychological contract that is work.

Taking pride in our work is important too. Our sense of purpose should drive us to do the best we can with the skills we have and we should be constantly seeking to improve.

If we don’t love what we do at any given time then we should be looking for ways to change our mind-set to take a more positive view. If we view our work positively then we’re more likely to be energised by it and if we’re energised by it we’re more likely to do it well.

Work is how we make a difference:

You must also recognise that there is a big difference between being busy and delivering real results. Never confuse industry with effectiveness. The two are very different things.

If I’m paying you to paint houses then the only measure I will use to judge you on is how well and how efficiently you paint houses. I don’t really care how helpful you might have been to the electrician or the refuse collector.

Being busy doesn’t count for anything unless you’re busy doing the right things. Doing the right things is how we make a real difference. And surely we’d all like to make a difference?

Other benefits:

Having a job actually provides us with many benefits. For a start with the income it generates, it allows use to put a roof over our head and bread on our table. Managed carefully, the money we earn will put clothes on our backs and allow us to heat our homes. And of course it provides so much more too.

Having a job gives us status and our own income gives us a degree of independence and freedom. All these things together improve our self-esteem. And of course work give us a reason to get you out of bed each day. Work is how we make a contribution to the society around us. Not just in what we do but also the taxes we pay. That’s how we pull our weight and justify our membership of the society in which we live.

However let us not forget the camaraderie we enjoy with the people with whom we work too. Yes, some of them will drive us nuts at times but mostly they’re good people just like us, with lives just like ours and with whom we can relate. We share their laughs and we share their tears too at times; the good times and the bad times; it all makes life worth living. Work allows us to engage with other people and that’s very important.

Your work can be your legacy too:

Work is what we do for other people and what we’ve done for other people is how we’ll be remembered long after we’re gone. So potentially your work is your legacy.

On that basis, whatever you do strive to do it well. It might not seem much to you but it will matter to other people. Have a sense of pride in your work whatever it is. It doesn’t matter whether you sweep roads or you’re a skilled heart surgeon we all have our place in society and we all have our contribution to make. And whatever role you play, no one is better than anyone else.

Enjoy your work or keep looking:

It’s important you find a way to enjoy your work because we spend a third of each day doing it. Sometimes it’s just a case of looking at your work in a different way in order to appreciate what you have. However sometimes even then for whatever reason you’ll feel unhappy.

If you can’t find a way to enjoy your work then find another job. One more suited to your natural talent perhaps. However until you find the right thing, you must grit your teeth and do your current work to the best of your ability.

And never just walk away from a job without another one to go to. It is ironic perhaps but it is always much easier to find another job when you already have one. Without a job a potential employer might wonder whether you’re unlucky or just a loser. And usually employers will be reluctant to take a chance on you if they’re unsure.

Conclusion:

The importance of work to our lives and our self-esteem should not be underestimated. So do the work you’re paid to do and do it well. Do that and success can be yours.

Don’t do your job properly and you’ll struggle to hold on to it for very long. Lose it and almost certainly you’ll regret it.

That’s the nature of work, it always has been and it always will be.

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Why you must listen to criticism

How well do you deal with criticism? You’ve been working hard and doing your best but someone still thinks it’s necessary to offer you some words of advice about the work you’ve just done. Not a thank you; no acknowledgement of your effort; just some caustic words about why your work is less than perfect. Makes you feel a little unloved doesn’t it?

Perhaps your critic lacked sensitivity? Perhaps he or she failed to appreciate the value you’ve been adding to whatever you were doing at the time? Either way it’s natural if you feel a little hurt when all people can do is point to something they believe is wrong or incomplete. If it doesn’t actually hurt, certainly it can be irritating. It can also seem overly harsh at times.

The problem when hearing criticism is that our defensive barriers tend to go up immediately. And once we’re on the defensive we don’t tend to listen to the feedback we’re getting. We just concentrate on how we’ll respond in order to dismiss whatever’s being said.

This is unfortunate because if we did listen and reflect on what is being said, it’s just possible that our critic may actually have a valid point.

The importance of criticism is that it provides us with valuable feedback. And how we react to any feedback depends on our attitude and how we choose to look at it. We can get all hurt and defensive or we can choose to give our critic the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are trying to be constructive.

In other words we can embrace criticism positively and seek to use it to our own advantage. Certainly this is the mature and grown up way of dealing with any criticism we receive.

We must recognise that none of us are perfect and we’re all prone to making the occasional mistake. That’s human nature. However if our aim is to succeed then we have to become masters of our chosen craft or profession. We have to be very good at whatever we’ve chosen to do if we’re going to stand out in the crowd. In fact we have to be the best.

Being the best requires the constant honing of our skills. That means we must learn from our mistakes and any inability that might prevent us from delivering the results required of us.

Learning is a lifelong process and we should be constantly practising and developing our skills and improving on the results we deliver. In order to do that then we must learn from our mistakes. Some mistakes will be obvious to us but sometimes we’ll fail to recognise them. Fortunately others won’t.

The underlying point here is that criticism is simply feedback and feedback is essential if we are to improve our skills and become masters of our craft or profession. That’s why it’s important to listen. If we know where we fall short then we can do something about it.

If you find yourself on the receiving end of criticism, the first thing to do is to remind yourself that to feel hurt is quite natural. That’s simply an emotional response to a negative situation. However don’t take anything personally. Criticism is rarely groundless, though it’s often exaggerated.

Give your critic the benefit of the doubt and assume their intention is simply to provide you with some valuable feedback. Welcome that feedback. Don’t interrupt your critic with excuses. That will just make you look defensive. Don’t glower at them either because you might stop them sharing that crucial insight with you.

The truth may hurt, but the sooner you hear it, the sooner you can fix whatever it is you’re doing wrong, assuming you are doing something wrong. Listen and focus on hearing everything being said. When your critic has made his or her point, say thank you. That will show confidence, dedication and grace too.

Then ask yourself honestly, is the point being made by your critic a fair one? And you really do need to be honest with yourself here. If your conclusion is that your critic has a fair point then you must embrace the lesson. Learn from it; resolve to do better next time; and be determined to improve. That way you’ll go from strength to strength. You will gain the respect of other people too for your willingness to listen and learn.

However, critics are not always right. If honest reflection leads you to the conclusion that your critic is being unfair then just ignore it. Smile and move on. Never take it personally and never let anyone discourage you from the pursuit of your aims.

Conclusion:

Criticism is just feedback. Feedback is your friend. Embrace it; learn from it; use it to your advantage; but never take it personally.

Further Reading:

If this article has whetted your appetite for learning more about receiving feedback then there are some good books on the subject. One you might look at is Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen.

This is a well-written book which is full of sound advice and plenty of examples which should make it easier to understand and follow. I found it useful and motivating and I think you might too.

You can check it out if you CLICK HERE.

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Parenting: Children are your gift to the world

Fotolia_77072166_XS_3Parenting is one of life’s great experiences. It’s also an interesting experience. Anyone beyond the age of sexual maturity can become a parent, assuming they can find a suitable partner. However you don’t get any training for the role, nor do you realise the magnitude of the task you’ve taken on until the day you bring your first child home from the hospital. Only then does the size of the challenge begin to sink in.

As well as being a great experience, parenting is a great responsibility. Children are the gift we give to the world. They are the future. They will be the adults of tomorrow and they take the baton from our generation and carry it forward. So how they’re nurtured must be taken seriously.

Preparation begins with the place in which they live their early lives. A parent’s power to create a loving, stable home and a daily climate and lasting environment in which the child can develop, thrive and grow is so awesome it must be used both consciously and responsibly.

Discipline your emotions. Give them the light and warmth of love, hope and good cheer. Make a conscious effort to be positive, enthusiastic and supportive. This can have an enormous impact not only on the emotional well-being of children, but also on their ability to experience the joys and pains of childhood in healthy and constructive ways.

Enjoy every minute with them because the years fly by all too quickly. Fill your house with joy and laughter. Encourage them to strike a balance between their schoolwork and the pursuit of the things they genuinely enjoy doing.

Recognise the importance of an education which will both stretch them and broaden their minds. Instil a sound grasp of concept-based subjects. Foster their creative, sporting and vocational talents. Build self-confidence and sociability. And develop their ability to think, speak and write clearly. If they can also develop a dash of style, then that will really make them stand out amongst their peers.

Above all provide them with the moral framework within which they can lead their lives respectably. And remember; if you want them to live by the moral code you establish, then you must live by it too.

Have high, yet realistic expectations of them. Parental expectations are good for children in so far as it helps motivate them to strive to achieve and do their best. However temper those expectations with realism. Stretching a child can help them to realise their full potential but any stretching must be consistent with the child’s natural ability. Setting them up for an obvious failure would do more harm than good.

As they grow and mature, be sure to give them some regular chores to do and gradually place responsibility on the shoulders. Enjoy their achievements but don’t be too disappointed if they don’t quite manage to live up to everything you expect of them. As long as they’ve done their best, then that is all that can be reasonably expected of them.

If you can do all of these things you will produce that all too rare bird, the well-educated, polite, balanced and confident young person with a strong work ethic. Achieve that and the world should be grateful for your contribution to the future.

Never underestimate the importance of parenting. It is probably the most useful work we ever do.

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Encourage kids to fail if you want them to succeed

As children we were taught to believe that to fail is inherently a bad thing; something about which we should almost feel a sense of shame.

The adults around us presumably believed that this would in some way motivate us to work so hard that we wouldn’t fail. This is misguided logic at best, in my opinion.

The problem with this approach is that it teaches children that the best way not to fail is not to try in the first place. If you don’t try then you can’t fail, right? Kids have always been quick to recognise the easiest way to neutralise a problem.

The problem with that is they then carry the lesson learned into their adult life. So this approach actually represents a disservice to kids in reality. It discourages them to try.

And if you don’t try, how can you ever master anything? If you don’t rise to a challenge, how can you ever grow in character?

No one ever started out as a master of anything. It doesn’t matter which line of work you consider or which subject you study, everyone starts as a complete beginner. And it doesn’t matter how talented you are, you’ll still experience failures along the road to mastering any craft.

However the lessons we learn from failure are more valuable to us than anything anyone can tell us. You can read textbooks as many times as you like but there’s no substitute for real experience.

If you get your fingers burned you don’t forget how it happened and why.

Success is never achieved without some failures along the way. Every successful man or woman will tell you that. It’s inevitable and it’s all part of life and learning. It’s how we gain that quality known as experience.

There’s actually no such thing as failure. Only outcomes we don’t want. And every time we try, we refine our skills until eventually we get it right.

What we refer to as failure is nothing more than a form of feedback.

And of course trying something and failing does not make you a failure. Failure is an outcome not a person.

It’s better to try and fail than never to try at all. Put simply, you cannot fail. Either you succeed or you learn a lesson. Either way you win.

You only become a failure if you give up trying.

If you have kids, encourage them to do their best and accept that they will fail occasionally. Make sure they understand that to fail is positive because they’ll learn valuable lessons and they’ll get better and grow the more they try.

Just encourage them to never, ever give up and never stop believing in themselves. Kids need encouragement more than they need criticism.

The most important message to your child is that they are as good as anyone and, if they try and keep trying, they will succeed eventually.

And if after trying hard it doesn’t work out for them, for whatever reason, then at least they’ll know they gave it their best shot and they won’t spend their lives wondering what might have been.

Kids should be taught that they should never fear failure. If you want your kids to succeed then encourage them to fail. However encourage them to keep trying too.

And remember this; kids should not fear failure and neither should you. Wherever you are on life’s journey, never be afraid to have a go. You’re as good as anyone too.

Recommended Reading

If this post has whetted you appetite to improve your understanding of the link between failure and success then you might try this book:-

The Ten Times Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cordone

If you’re determined to settle for nothing less than success then this book will help you. This book will open your eyes in terms of what is required to achieve real and sustainable success.

You can check this book out if you CLICK HERE

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What does life mean to you?

What does life mean to you? Do you ever feel that you’re constantly living on a treadmill of other people’s expectations? Do you worry about what other people think about you? If you do, you’re not alone.

So many people waste their time worrying about what others think of them. If only they realised that other people spend little or no time thinking about them at all.

Most people are too busy trying to deal with their own lives. They don’t have the time to think much about anyone else’s life.

So it’s fine to be yourself and to lead your life on your own terms. Your approach to life is just as valid as the next person’s and, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else, you’re free to choose how you live.

Don’t try to be something you’re not? You can only be the person you are. So accept yourself for who you are; you’re a true original.

Remind yourself frequently that you’re better than you think you are and that you’re as good as anyone.

Constantly reinforce your self-belief. If you haven’t got much self-belief right now then fake it until it happens naturally. And that will come with the little successes you’ll achieve over time.

Never consciously try to impress anyone else. It doesn’t get you any place worth going. Just do what comes naturally to you.

You’re only going to have this one life, so live it on your own terms. Enjoy your life for what it is and make the most of it.

However never let life just happen to you; decide on the life you want and then make it happen. It’s important to know what you want and you should never give up until you get it.

Always be yourself. However make that the best version of yourself.

And remember this; an original is always more impressive than a copy. So don’t copy other people. Just be an original.

And remember this too; life begins once you’ve stepped outside of your comfort zone. That’s where the real challenges are and that’s where you will grow. And you must never stop growing.

So step outside your comfort zone; look those challenges in the eye and just give them a wink. You’re more than a match for them all. They should be quaking in their boots.

Go on, live life! Now! It’s later than you think.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited. All Rights Reserved. 2017

What is the key to success?

What is the key to success? Certainly there is no silver bullet. There is no one thing that on its own will ensure personal success. However there are things you can do and habits you can develop that will help you to become the person you really could be. You can be a success and it’s never too late.

Success comes from knowing what you want; taking a disciplined approach to working on your goals; and adopting good habits that will help you achieve your goals, as well as singling you out as a role model for other people too.

Here is my list of the top 10 tips for good habits you really ought to consider developing from now on:-

  1. Believe in yourself

You must believe in yourself. That’s a given, if success is your aim. If you don’t believe in yourself then why would anyone else believe in you?

If you lack self-belief then you must start reinforcing a belief in yourself straightaway with a daily mantra. Every morning and every evening go to your bathroom mirror and repeat the following to yourself 10 times each time:-

“I’m as good as anyone and better than most. I will be a success.”

It is essential that you remind yourself of this constantly.

Self-belief is an essential ingredient if you’re going to succeed. By reminding yourself that you’re as good as anyone this will help reinforce self-belief in both your conscious and subconscious minds.

Believing in yourself and your ability to succeed is more important than anything else. It is if success is your aim.

  1. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else

You are who you are and you can only be the person you are. Anything else would be a fake. You have your own special qualities and no one else is quite like you. You have your own strengths and of course you have a few weaknesses too. Everyone does.

Other people have their own unique qualities too of course. However that doesn’t mean they’re better than you. They’re just different. You can’t be them, so don’t try. And they can’t be you either. So concentrate on being yourself. Everyone else is taken.

If you want to be a star, you must shine for being you and for the special magic which only you can bring to this world. You’re unique, so take pride in that and put your best foot forward.

Never compare yourself to anyone else and never fret if you feel you can’t match someone else in some particular way. There will be ways in which they cannot match you either. 

  1. Always keep the main thing the main thing

Whether you like it or not you’ll be judged by what you deliver and the value you add.

If your job is to paint my house, then I will judge you on how well you’ve painted my house.

I don’t care how much help you’ve given to my neighbour. If you’ve painted my house badly or the job hasn’t been done properly then you’ve failed as far as I’m concerned. Do the job badly and I will not be happy.

Often in the workplace our inability to say “No” leads us to being completely distracted by a request to help someone else.

And that distraction can result in us failing to do something that would have moved us closer to the successful conclusion of one of our own goals.

Losing sight of our own high value tasks can make us less productive and less valuable in the eyes of our employer. Workplace distractions can lead to other people achieving their objectives at the expense of our own.

Being a team-player is important of course and there will be occasions when providing assistance to a colleague is the right thing to do for the greater good of the team. However it should never, ever be at the expense of you delivering what you will be expected to deliver regardless.

You’re judged by what you deliver, so never lose focus on what you’re expected to do.

Never be afraid to be assertive. You don’t have to be nasty, unpleasant or impolite. You just have to say, “Look I’m really sorry, I would love to help you but I have this to complete by 5pm” or whatever.

Always, always keep the main thing the main thing.

Being too helpful may help others but it probably won’t help you.

It will however increase your stress levels though, if you’re not careful.

Focus on your own goals ruthlessly. 

  1. Accept that you will make mistakes occasionally

No professional likes to make mistakes.

Nevertheless they are inevitable occasionally. That’s a fact of life.

No one is so perfect they can avoid mistakes completely. And no one ever achieved anything without making a few mistakes along the way.

So it’s fine to make mistakes occasionally providing you don’t make too many and providing you don’t make the same mistakes repeatedly.

When you’ve made a mistake, it’s important to be honest, accept it, and above all learn from it.

Making mistakes is all part of gaining experience.

So just do your best and accept that, like everyone else, you’re not perfect nor will you ever be.

However remember this; just because you’re not perfect, it doesn’t mean you cannot be exceptional at what you do. As professionals we always strive to get better at what we do.

Mastery of your craft is a worthy aim and one which requires constant study and practice. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to take a few risks

 Risk and reward go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.

You’ll never achieve anything exceptional if you always play it safe; not unless you’re very, very lucky anyway.

Sometimes you just have to follow your instincts and go for it.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weigh up the pros and cons before you take action. It’s fine to consider the potential consequences before you take a risk. And it’s fine to consider the odds of achieving a positive outcome and whether the potential reward merits the degree of risk involved.

Consider risk carefully but don’t dwell on it too long. Analysis shouldn’t replace action. You cannot get to second base unless you take your foot off first base and go for it.

And anytime you take a risk don’t panic if initially things don’t go quite as you’d imagined.

If you’ve used your judgement with care then there’s every possibility that you’ll get the outcome you want.

So hold your nerve and just believe in yourself.

You may not get it right every time but you’ll get it right more than you get it wrong. And even when you’re wrong you’ll learn a lesson.

Get it right and you’ll be that much closer to achieving a goal.

So be willing to take a calculated risk when necessary. 

  1. Learn from experience

Experience is a valuable commodity. It’s the by-product of making mistakes and taking risks. It’s the invaluable benefit we derive when things don’t quite work out as we’d intended.

The most important thing about experience is that we learn from it.

And of course we can learn from seeing others make mistakes too, as well as from anything we’ve done ourselves.

The lessons we get from real experience are far more valuable to us than anything anyone can tell us, or anything we can read in a book for that matter.

It’s the education we get in the University of Life, School of Hard Knocks.

However remember this; you don’t owe anyone an explanation for your mistakes.

When you make a mistake, it makes sense to be honest with yourself and others of course. Beyond that you should not feel the need to explain yourself in detail.

Mistakes happen and no one starts out with the intention of getting something wrong. If you get an outcome you didn’t want then just to take it on the chin, learn the lesson and move on.

Everyone makes mistakes occasionally and you’re no different. To err is human. That’s life. 

  1. Never take anything personally

Apparently the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre once observed that, “Hell is other people.

I’m sure there are times when we all feel that he may have had a point.

We’re all struggling to get through life as best we can and life’s never easy for anyone. Everyone wants what they believe to be their fair share of life’s ‘pie’. Some people want your share too.

Sometimes that can leave us feeling like everyone is giving us grief and deliberately making life more difficult than it need be.

However mostly there’s nothing personal.

Life is just ‘dog eat dog’. People may be a little insensitive at times, as they pursue their own agenda, but generally they’re not out to hurt us specifically.

So if it’s not personal, then never take it personally.

And on those rare occasions when it does prove to be personal, don’t give them the satisfaction of a reaction or showing that they’ve got to you.

Look them in the eye and show them that it doesn’t bother you. Your message has to be, “I’m made of steel. You’ll have to try harder than that if you’re going to penetrate my shield. 

  1. If you’re digging a hole for yourself, stop digging

 If you find yourself digging a hole then you have two choices:-

  • You can keep digging and the hole in which you find yourself will simply get bigger and more problematic; or
  • You can recognize the situation for what it is and stop digging immediately.

It is best to stop digging immediately.

When you stop digging you might have some fences to mend of course. Certainly you’ll have to accept responsibility. You might also have to apologize to people, depending on the circumstances.

Whatever it all means it’s better to recognize a bad situation for what it is and take it on the chin, rather than making everything even worse.

On the positive side, having the ability to recognize when you’re digging a hole for yourself and having the maturity to deal with the consequences is a sign of self-confidence. That’s something for which you’ll gain respect.

People will respect you if you’re prepared to say, “Hey, you know what, I’ve made a bit of a mess of this one, so I’ll stop right here and let’s try again. Sorry but like everyone else, I’m not perfect and I make mistakes occasionally.

Just because you didn’t quite get it right doesn’t mean you cannot be confident in how you respond.

Respond in the right way and your confidence will be well placed. 

  1. Let go of any anger

We all get angry occasionally but anger never gets you any place worth going.

React in anger and almost certainly you will regret it.

That’s not to suggest that you should not react at all. However before you react let the anger subside. Just let it go.

Leave it for 24 hours if necessary, until you’re better able to reflect with a calm head. There’s a lot to be said for ‘sleeping on it’ in my experience.

That way you’re better placed to use your judgement carefully and make rational decisions.

And in making decisions, revenge should not form any part of how you plan to react.

Revenge won’t get you anywhere worth going either and you’ll almost certainly regret that too. 

  1. Learn to switch off

We all need a little ‘me time’ regularly, otherwise we’ll burn out.

We all need time to relax and recharge our batteries.

That means switching off completely.

By doing that one of the great benefits is that we gain a fresh perspective on whatever’s happening in our lives.

Surprisingly perhaps we’ll also get plenty of new ideas in the process.

In fact you’ll find you get some of your best ideas when you’re not trying to come up with new ideas. That’s ironic I know but true, in my experience. 

Bonus tip

Don’t take yourself too seriously. No one else does.

If you don’t laugh at yourself occasionally you might just be missing out on the funniest thing happening at that moment. Why miss out on a good laugh?

Concluding remarks

So there you have it. If you want success develop good habits. This list would be a very good start but there are others too.

Above all else, make sure you’re adding the most value in everything you do.

If you’re adding genuine value then you can’t go too far wrong.

So, where do you add the most value and what are your goals? If you know, write them down. If you don’t know it’s time to identify some. Nothing will ever happen by accident. Success doesn’t just happen you have to make it happen.

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Do you think it’s important to keep an open mind?

Do you have an open mind?

How often do you change your mind about something or some issue?

If you’re anything like me then probably quite frequently I would guess.

I’ve even had quite strong opinions on an issue, held for many years, and then decided that actually I’m wrong and I’ve subsequently revised my opinion.

I’m referring to that ‘light bulb’ moment when suddenly I can see clearly that which before I couldn’t see before.

A change of mind simply implies that we’ve seen something in a different way. And there’s nothing wrong with seeing something differently and revising your opinion.

I think it’s shows maturity if we can accept when we’re wrong about something.

Perhaps suddenly we understand something that we thought we understood before but then realise we didn’t really understand it at all. Perhaps in searching for an answer, we get a new perspective on an issue which now seems more appropriate than the perspective we had before.

The point here is that often we think we know the answer when actually we’ve failed to understand the question.

So it’s important to keep an open mind. An open mind is a healthy mind.

Listen to the views of others and try to understand their point of view. Seek first to understand and accept that we may not always fully understand immediately. And never hang on to an opinion simply for fear of losing face.

If we’re wrong and we know we’re wrong then it’s better to be honest, accept it and move on.

The important thing is that we keep our minds open and as we develop a better perspective then we adjust our views accordingly. That is a mature way to behave it seems to me.

However, ultimately that’s just my opinion, so what do you think?

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.

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