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8 Things You Should Not Do To Get Ahead

by Leo

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
?J.R.R. Tolkien

Sometimes we find ourselves running in place, struggling to get ahead simply because we confuse effort with achievement.  If you’ve been feeling like you missed a door somewhere and have thus been heading in the wrong direction, it’s likely that you got caught up in this sort of confusion.

The good news is, no matter how long you have traveled in the wrong direction, you always have the choice to turn around.  So make that choice today.  Promise yourself that you will NOT…

1.  Follow a specific life path simply to satisfy others.

Sometimes we try to satisfy our parents, teachers, spouses and peers by walking a particular path in spite of the fact that our own inner GPS advises otherwise.  Then, not surprisingly, we wake up one day and we feel completely lost.  If you’re feeling a little lost now, its time to change course.

Life is too short to spend all your time trying to make everyone else happy.  Besides, it’s impossible to please everyone all the time anyway.  At some point, you’ve got to stop caring about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living for yourself.

Make choices that take your mind, body, and soul into consideration.  You are the only person who knows what’s best for you.  It’s impossible for anyone else to know.  No matter how much you share with them, they are not connected to your deepest desires, intuition, hopes and dreams.  Always, ALWAYS listen to yourself and what you want first.

2.  Sacrifice all your present happiness for future security.

Do not fool yourself into believing that you must live the same day over and over again for the rest of your life, simply because it’s the responsible thing to do.

So many people live daily with unhappy circumstances, and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation.  They somehow believe that conforming to their current circumstances will eventually lead to a life of comfort, security, and peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to their spirit.

Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design into the present.  The very basic core of the human spirit is a natural passion for exploration and growth.  This growth originates directly from our encounters with new ideas and experiences that intrigue us; and hence there is no greater destination in life than to have an endlessly changing horizon – for each day to have a new and different sun.  (Read Buddha’s Brain.)

3.  Focus intensely on not making mistakes.

Don’t commit to making less mistakes; commit to making more of them.  Fail forward.  Mistakes in life are as certain as sunsets and detours.  So why exert energy avoiding the unavoidable?  Embrace it.  The truth is, you aren’t really free until you give yourself the freedom to make mistakes.  So liberate yourself!  Shift your energy from protecting yourself from failure to squeezing more living out of your life.

Get real comfortable with that uneasy feeling of going against the grain and trying something new.  Doing so will always take you to places you never thought you could go.  Try new things, learn and explore freely.  Your good judgment comes from life experience, and life experience comes from your past bad judgments.  You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.  Disappointment and defeat are the tools life uses to show you the way.

4.  Spend your entire present trying to fix a broken past.

The past isn’t broken.  It can’t possibly be.  It no longer exists.  There is nothing to fix.  There is, however, a present moment that can be lived with presence and power.

Sometimes life doesn’t give you what you want; not because you don’t deserve it, but because you deserve better.  No matter how many times you break down, there should always be a little voice inside you that says, “NO, you’re not done yet!  Get back up!”  That’s the voice of presence and power, which can only speak for you in the present moment.  What you need to realize is, life is a journey, often difficult and sometimes incredibly cruel; but you are well equipped for it as long as you tap into your inner strength in the present, and allow it to flourish forward.  (Read The Power of Now.)

5.  Resist life’s realities that don’t align with your expectations.

Stop stressing over what could have been.  The chances are if it should have been, it would have been.  Life unfolds in unpredictable ways for a reason.  What happens isn’t good or bad.  It simply is.

Happiness is about trusting that what has happened has long-term positive, rather than negative, connotations.  Trust that life is happening for you, not to you.  This “inverse paranoia” of believing everything is for the greater good helps the human spirit face and welcome life’s turbulent changes cheerfully.

The bottom line is that we’re wired to expect the world to be brighter and more meaningful and more obviously interesting than it often is.  If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself, others and the world around you, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.

6.  Attempt to find the easy shortcut to your goals and dreams.

There is no easy shortcut to anywhere worth going.  You must be willing to make sacrifices.  It’s a process!  It’s a process!  It’s a process!  Ingrain this in your mind.  Achievement takes time.  Success, like washboard abs, is the outcome of a habit.  It’s the relentless daily practice of making small, diligent choices that add up in the long run.  It’s about following through and doing what you said you would do even when no one would notice but you, and knowing in your heart why doing so matters.

In a nutshell, when it comes to working hard to achieve a big life goal of any kind – earning a degree, building a business, or some other personal achievement that takes time and commitment – one thing you have to ask yourself is:  “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the rest of my life like many people can’t?”

7.  Win the approval and admiration of the wrong people.

You cannot make someone respect you; all you can do is be someone who can be respected.  The rest is up to them.  No matter how much you care some people just won’t care back.  It’s not the end of the world.  At some point you have to realize the truth – that they no longer care or never did, and that maybe you’re wasting your time and missing out on someone else who does.

Likewise, don’t waste too much of your time with people who are not supportive of your goals and abilities.  Surround yourself with those who believe in your potential.  Anyone who inspires you to make your half-hearted attempts more whole-hearted through passion and love, is a precious friend and teacher.  These people are out there.  Find them and conquer the world together.  (I discuss this in more detail in the “Relationships” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

8.  Keep waiting for the right time.

You cannot wait for the perfect time; it will never come.  If you think now feels like the wrong time, think again.  It’s just uncertainty messing with your mind.  Most of the time you must simply dare to jump.

Today is the first day of a new beginning – the conception of a new life.  The next nine months are all yours.  You can do with them as you please.  Make them count.  Because a new person is born in nine months.  The only question is: Who do you want that person to be?

Right now is the right time to decide.


If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never get it.  If you don’t ask yourself the right questions, you’ll always get the wrong answers.  If you don’t take a step forward, you’re always going to be in the same place.  Life is a journey full of choices.  I hope this short article got you thinking differently about the choices you make every day.

Your turn…

What would you add to the list?  What’s something you should NOT do to get ahead?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts.

Photo by: Thomas Hawk

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