Every once in a while we stop and think about the routines we have fallen into, the lives we have become comfortable with, and the surrounding we are accustomed to. Sometimes we feel a little lost in the direction we are headed. Sometimes we feel a little stuck. Sometimes we feel like we are not being honest with ourselves and are not living the life we actually want to live if money was not an object.
There are so many things we wish we could do but we haven’t come around to doing it. We feel like there is more to life. We feel like we might be wasting our time if we don’t do it, yet, we feel stuck. There are so many reasons that we seem to be telling ourselves why we haven’t come around to doing it. We may feel like we don’t have enough time, but if we don’t make time for it, when will we ever make it happen? We may say that we don’t have enough money, but do we really need so much capital to begin with or can we take a leap of faith in ourselves and let life lead the way? We may feel like the time is not right, but if we keep waiting around, when will it ever be right? We may feel like we’re not ready, but we will never feel ready until we have already done it once.
When these doubts or feelings occur, ask yourself these questions to help you determine what you really want out of life, where you are headed, and what you should do.
1. If not now, then when?
2. What would you do if nobody would judge you?
3. Have you done something worth remembering lately?
4. Time or money?
5. What is the one thing you are proud of but would never put on your resume?
6. In 20 years from now, what do you want to remember?
7. What is something that you have always wanted to do since you were a kid?
8. When did you first realize life is short?
9. What memory from the past makes you smile the most?
10. Are you proud of what you are doing or what have you done?
11. In one year from today, how do you want to be different?
12. Are you doing what you believe in or settling for what you are doing?
13. What do you need to do to make it happen?
14. What do you absolutely love in life?
15. Has your greatest fear come true?
16. What is success for you?
17. What makes you feel great about yourself?
18. What do you admire most in the world?
19. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like doing?
20. When was the last time you started something new?
21. In order of importance, how would you rank happiness, money, love, health, fame?
22. What was the thing that didn’t last forever, but was still worth a while?
23. What has fear or failure stopped you from doing?
24. In one word, how would you spend the last month of your life?
25. What do you want to be known for?
26. What are you thankful for?
27. What do you need to let go of?
28. If you haven’t achieved it yet, what do you have to lose?
To actually sit down and answer all of these questions might be harder than you think. But I hope that after doing this self-discovery exercise, you now have a clear direction of what you want out of life and what you should do.
We are constantly on the look out for ways to improve our lives, ourselves, our bodies, and our minds. No matter how many hacks there are to implement, things to learn and to ponder upon, there are a few simple things that if we learn to start doing now and everyday, they will become valuable habits for a lifetime.
Personal Branding - The Secrets to Managing the Brand called YOU!
Branding is the mechanic behind why you buy the brands you love. Regardless of age, position, and the business we’re in, we need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me co.
To be in business today, we are the Head of Marketing of the brand called You.
How can you become like your favourite brand? - be it Apple, Virgin, Nike, Audi, Coca-Cola, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Converse, Chanel, etc.
1. Start by asking yourself the same question the brand managers at Apple, Nike, or Audi ask themselves
What is it that my product or service does that makes it different?
What are the qualities or characteristics that make you distinctive from your competitors — or your colleagues?
What is the “feature-benefit model” that the brand called You offers?
What do I do that adds remarkable, measurable, distinguished, distinctive value?
What do I do that I am most proud of?
What have I accomplished that I can unabashedly brag about?
What do I want to be famous for?
2. Increase the visibility of your brand
If you’re McDonald’s, Cadbury, or Lays that usually means a full flight of TV and print ads designed to get billions of “impressions” of your brand in front of the consumers. If you’re brand You, you’ve got the same need for visibility — but no budget to buy it. So how do you market brand You? There’s literally no limit to the ways you can go about enhancing your profile.
Sign up for an extra project inside your organization, just to introduce yourself to new colleagues and showcase your skills — or work on new ones.
Take on a freelance project that gets you in touch with a totally novel group of people.
Try teaching other people. You get credit for being an expert, you increase your standing as a professional, and you increase the likelihood that people will come back to you with more requests and more opportunities to stand out from the crowd.
If you’re good at writing, blog and contribute a column or an opinion piece to a publisher in your field. Create a slideshare. Tweet. Once you get started, you’ve got a track record that you can use to snatch more chances.
If you’re good at talking, try to get yourself on a panel discussion at a conference or sign up to make a presentation at a workshop.
Create your own channels! There are several channels you can broadcast your expertise for free; Tumblr, Wordpress, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on.
3. Maintain consistent communication messages
When you’re promoting brand You, everything you do and everything you choose not to do communicates the value and character of the brand –What you have to say and how well you get it said. Your business cards also matter. Is the design of your card and logo YOU and demonstrating who you are?
4. Use your own power. Create influence and reputational power.
One of the things that attracts us to certain brands is the power they project. As a consumer, you want to associate with brands whose powerful presence creates a halo effect that rubs off on you.
Remember that power is largely a matter of perception.
If you want people to see you as a powerful brand, act like a credible leader. When you’re thinking like brand You, you’re leading You!
5. Increase your brand’s value
Think like big brands do. Imagine yourself a brand manager of Apple: When you look at your brand’s assets, what can you add to boost your power and felt presence?
Would you be better off with a simple line extension — taking on a project that adds incrementally to your existing base of skills and accomplishments?
Would you be better off with a whole new product line?
Is it time to move overseas for a couple of years, venturing outside your comfort zone, tackling something new and completely different?
6. Regularly check up on your brand value and brand perception
Instead of making yourself a slave to the concept of a career ladder, reinvent yourself on a semiregular basis. Start by writing your own mission statement, to guide you as CEO of Me co.
What turns you on? Learning something new? Gaining recognition for your skills as X? Shepherding new ideas from concept to market?
What’s your personal definition of success? Money? Power? Fame? Or doing what you love?
Search relentlessly for job or project opportunities that fit your mission statement.
Review that mission statement every six months to make sure you still believe what you wrote.
Remember that YOU are a BRAND. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today.
We all love comfort. Wealth gives us comfort. We work hard for a comfortable life - whether it’s for ourselves or for those we love.
But comfort is actually an illusion - an illusion that we shouldn’t be sucked into; an illusion that we should not become slaves of.
A girl friend of mine who is also a mother of a one-year-old boy said on her Facebook status,
If you love your kids, don’t raise them to become slaves of comfort.
Kids these days don’t understand why we have to struggle in life, why we have to live really simply, why we don’t consume the finest things in life we could afford and have as much fun as we possibly can.
It is because… comfort makes us weak. comfort makes us reckless. comfort ropes us into becoming its slaves.
Once we’ve become slaves of comfort, we become unhappy when life starts to struggle; we become prone to unhappiness and misery which make us become resistant to happiness.
When we are slaves of comfort, we never know when enough comfort is enough. We keep wanting more. We keep seeking for more. We never feel satisfied.
But if we train our mind to be conscious of this - knowing when enough is enough and when we should stop demanding more comfort out of life - then we will be able to handle anything life throws at us. We become prone to happiness and be resistant to misery.
Don’t lose yourself to the world of comfort.
At one point in my life I was extremely broke. I had to face the harsh truth of life - what it’s like to struggle to pay rent and bills.
Two thoughts came to my mind;
I could borrow some money from my parents and friends.
I could give this struggling life a go.
I picked the latter as I wanted to test if I could really survive.
It was tough - real tough for about half a year. However, I really enjoyed the process because it made me realize that I am actually capable of living uncomfortably. My mind got stronger.
From that point on I lost my fear of failure because the fear of failure is actually the fear of having to live an uncomfortable life. But I survived. I was fine. I now have no fear because I know that no matter what happens in life, I will find a way to survive. Moreover, the uncomfortable period of my life actually enabled me to search for happiness from within, rather than from external sources.
I liked the new mentality I adopted so much that I aimed to push myself into the habit of living with less - no shopping, no taxi’s (only public transport and walking), mostly eating in and staying in. Because I had to be as stingy as possible with my money, I started to find “free things” to do - things that I could enjoy without having to spend any cent. I started to read more, write more, go to the park and the beach more often and just enjoy the nature, and go to Entrepreneur Meetups to meet new people instead of going out partying.
As a result, I become happier from within. I don’t need external factors to make me happy. Reading makes me happy. Writing makes me happy. Catching up with close friends and family makes me happy. Cooking makes me happy. Walking through the park makes me happy. People watching makes me happy. I don’t need a lot of comfort to make me happy.
Sometimes the uncomfortable things in life are there to teach us lessons because to go through a change of habit, we need to feel uncomfortable.
- Mo Seetubtim
Give it a try if you can. Learn to live with less. Become comfortable with living uncomfortably. Then you’ll realize that there’s more to life than finding comfort. Because after all, comfort is just an illusion.
Regardless of where you are in life, you feel proud of yourself for your achievements and your actions - whether it’s good or bad. Because life is not about going from one point to the next. Life is about the journey - and the key to loving life is to enjoy the journey.
You’re proud of yourself and for everything you’ve been through, because every turning point in life leads you to another. Every change leads to a new destiny. When one door closes, another door opens. No matter what happened in the past, you are who you are because of everything that’s happened and you’re proud of who you’ve become.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” - Charles R. Swindoll
2. You feel happy with where you are and where you’re headed.
You know that you’ve done well in life when you’re happy with where you are and where you’re headed. You might not be exactly where you dream of ending up, but you’re happy that you’re on the right path. You know who you are and you’re making decisions that align with your values. You don’t do things that go against who you are at the core. You are in touch with your soul, with yourself, and you know that no matter what happens, you will be okay. Life will lead you down the right path.
3. You are better than you were yesterday, last week, and last year.
You might not be the best you could be yet, but you’re better than you were yesterday and the day before. Sometimes we do stupid things. Sometimes we make decisions we should not have.. But as long as we realize this and aim to become a better person each day - mentally, emotionally, physically, and intellectually — then we are further along in life than many people.
“The minute you stop improving yourself is the minute your life becomes stale. Never stop challenging yourself to become the best you can be.”
- Mo Seetubtim
4. Your relationship with your family has improved.
Not everyone grows up having the perfect relationship with their family. Most of the time we don’t. Personality clashes are common occurrences, let alone if you have controlling parents or abusive parents, who don’t seem to have it all together. While growing up, sometimes we need to push our family members away in order to grow and become mentally strong and well. Sometimes we have to ignore them in order to discard the pain and the burden inside of our hearts. But as we get older, we realize that no matter how bad our parents might seem, they’re still our parents. They might not be amazing at parenting. They might not be as selfless and caring as other parents. But often, they have our best interest at heart. And even if they don’t, we learn to accept it and understand why they are the way they are. We learn to understand their circumstances and how their upbringing shaped them as people. We are now mature and wise enough to manage our emotions and handle conflicts with the only people in our life we can never completely detach from - our parents.
As we get older, we realize that there’s not much time left for us to be with them. So instead of feeling bad about the hurtful past, we re-create the bond with our parents and make sure they know how thankful we are for the love and care they’ve given us. Because after all, we wouldn’t be here today without them.
5. You’re passionate about your job, your hobbies, and your life.
After all, what is there to enjoy if we don’t enjoy life? You know you’ve done well in life when you love your job, have hobbies that you enjoy, and just love waking up everyday. You feel excited about what the day will bring and who you will meet. Isn’t life just wonderful?
“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
- Steve Jobs
6. You live in the present.
Instead of focusing on the past and wishing things were different or worrying too much about the future, you focus on the present. You realize that everything is fleeting and that life is uncertain. The only thing you have control over is the present moment. You know you’ve done well when you focus on making each moment the best moment it can be. You are mindful and you know that our wandering thoughts can create illusional emotions that shouldn’t be there to start with. The only way for us to truly enjoy life is to live in the present.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” - John Lennon
7. You know who your true friends are.
One of the most beautiful things in life is true friendship. Your true friends are the people who accept you for who you are and no matter what happens, they’re there by your side. True friends are the rarest gifts, and we should show our appreciation to them more often. You know you’ve done well in life when you know you have a group of people you can turn to celebrate your success and to be your shoulder to cry on. They are the people you can trust wholeheartedly. Having these people in life means that you’re a true friend to them as well. Being a true friend is a reciprocal process. You just don’t form a strong friendship if you only take and take - you have to give as well. If you have a group of people who are there by your side for years to come, you know you’ve done well in life.
8. You realize that you’ve become less judgmental and open-minded over the years.
One of the things that can show our maturity is how we care for others. Over the past years, have your eyes become more open? Has your horizon been broadened? Have you become more open-minded, less judgemental, and more understanding of the world and of people around you?
No matter who you are as a person, no matter what you do - if you have no sympathy for others and no understanding of the world, then you might be missing out on something good in life. Life is more than just about work and play. Life is about experiencing and understanding other human beings and other cultures. Life is about experiencing love, joy, happiness, tears, and sadness. Life is about escaping from suffering, as much as it is about pleasure.
You know you’ve done well in life when you no longer judge people for what they’re wearing or for what they’re doing. Rather, you try to understand. After all, everyone’s story is different. You never know what they’ve been through and what happens behind closed doors.
9. You know how to manage your emotional well-being as well as your mental well-being.
As good as it sounds to be smart and successful, it is never a true success if your home is a mess, your family life is in chaos, and your emotional health is declining . Your emotional intelligence is even more important than your intellectual intelligence. It doesn’t matter if you are a successful businessperson who can close any deal if you are aggressive and abusive to your employees. It doesn’t matter if you are the breadwinner of the family if you abuse your wife and scream at her under pressure.You know you’ve done well in life when you have your emotional well-being under control and when you no longer feel like you’re falling apart inside because you’re breaking down. Stress is inevitable. However, learning to manage it is crucial and essential to a happy and healthy living.
10. You do things that are good for yourself, body, and mind.
Some people work so hard that they forget to take care of the most important things in their life - their health, body, and mind. Without good health, life is not enjoyable. What’s the point of being wealthy if you don’t have time to enjoy life with the people you love? You know you’ve done well in life if you make your health and well-being your priority. You make sure you eat well, exercise, and take some time off to relax and recharge. You meditate. You read. You do things that revitalize your soul. At the end of the day, no matter how big your home is, your body is your true home.
11. You don’t regret anything you’ve done because life is about moving forward, not backward.
There are always things we have done in the past that we are not proud of. If we could turn back time, we might have acted differently. However, there is no point thinking about it this way. If you’re smart, you learn from your past and become a stronger and better person because of it. There’s no point in looking back and regretting, because everything happens for a reason and leads you to where you are today.
You know you’ve done well in life if all you look forward to is moving forward. You focus on making today and tomorrow better. That’s the only outlook on life that one should have.
12. You feel thankful and are excited about life and the future.
Your life can be truly amazing and wonderful. However, if you don’t appreciate what you have, then you will never feel truly happy. You know you’ve done well in life if you feel thankful for being alive and appreciate what you have, rather than focusing on what you don’t have. Life is a gift in itself. The key to this is to view it with gratitude. After all, it is what it is. Everything and every person has come into your life to teach you something. See it as a passing experience and learn from it. Be thankful for whatever has happened because without it you would not have grown and be as equipped as you are today.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
When you’re a teenager, you feel like searching for who you are is the key psychological change that’s going on in your life. You seek to establish your identity and find out what you like and dislike doing. You think that as you get older you will be more sure about who you are, what you do, and what you should do. But as you get older, you realize that you’re still trying and not feeling certain about the outcome of what you do. You change jobs. You move countries. Your relationships fall apart only to start blossoming again with someone new. You give something a go, you try your best, it may fail, and you move on.
Everyone is trying to figure out their sh*t just like you. Even ones that seem most assured are as confused, dazed, and unsure deep down inside as you are. They just pretend that everything is okay. Some people feel ashamed of displaying their feeling of uncertainty, thinking that it’s showing vulnerabilities and a sign of weakness. Some people are open about their trial-and-error path, believing that it leads them to finding themselves more and more as they go.
Whatever your path might be like, you realize that as you get older, you still have to keep figuring things out and don’t really know where you’re actually going. You might think “No, this is bullshit. I know exactly what I want to do and what I’m doing.” But no, deep down you still feel uncertain and unsure - you just suppress the feeling.You may have thought that as you get older, you will become more assured and know exactly what you’re doing, but it doesn’t seem that way. Your parents who you thought were the most assured when you’re growing up are probably as confused as you are. They’re still figuring out what to do with their retirements and when they should retire. They get more and more scared of illnesses that are creeping up to them. Some are also looking for new love to replace the old one that has died and are probably more confused than you are about relationships, love, and life.
When you realize that life is trial and error and that it will continue to be that way, you feel more acceptant of life and circumstances that life throws at you. No matter what comes into your life, it will go. No matter what you decide to do, it will either make your heart grow fonder or languish - you live and learn. No matter what risk you take, you will be okay.
Instead of trying to feel certain about life, you learn to embrace uncertainty. Because once you do, you will feel the most certain about yourself and life. After all, that is the only constant in life.
So take risks…. because it’s not a big deal if you fail. It’s just another error. You can try again.
2. Life has its own flow.
Have you heard of the saying that timing is everything? Well, that’s what I’m talking about here. As you get older, you realize that you can’t force time. Life has a way of unfolding at its own pace. Life has its own natural rhythms.
Every little thing in life is building you up for something bigger. Those achievements you had at school built your self-confidence and self-esteem. The junior roles you had when you first graduated prepared you for the bigger roles even though you felt like you were doing minor tasks most of the time. Those people you dated led you to knowing more about yourself, what you want and don’t want, and what you’re compatible with.
Life has its own pace. You can have it all but not all at once. And if you don’t keep your focus right, you might not achieve anything.
3. Life has its own energy.
Everyone wants to be happy. In the path to happiness, you seek to understand who you are, where you stand, what your nature is, and what your interests and passions are. When you get to do what comes naturally to you - whether it be handy tasks, creative hobbies, or adventurous activities - you feel most alive.
Unfortunately, many people don’t allow themselves to flow with life. They fight life. These people may be working hard towards some goal - maybe academic or professional success. They put aside their flowing, their natural love, and their passions in life in order to reach this goal. They haven’t let life run at its own pace and fuelled by its own energy. As a result, they feel stressed, tired, worn out, and drained which leads them to find something that could help bring them back to a normal state of energy. Some rely on sports, meditation, yoga, and a moderate amount of alcohol consumption. Some have lost their souls to overindulgence in alcohol, gambling, cigarettes, and drugs.
Life has its own energy and when the energy flow is blocked or abused, you feel stressed and lost - you feel like you need control. Turning to bad influences for emotional uplifts, you feel like you’re in control once again - that you can control how you feel. However, regardless of how good the emotional assistance makes you feel, relying your emotions and energy on them only leads you to losing control of yourself and your life even more.
4. Life gets easier when you can manage your emotions better.
In the early years of your life as an adult, you might feel like you’re still finding your feet and that life will get easier as you get older. However, as you get older you realize that life doesn’t get easier. In fact, what gets easier is managing your own emotions as your mental strength develops.
My Dad always said to me …
Everyone was born with the ability to become successful. But on the path to that, the obstacles and challenges everyone has to face are their own emotions. The ability to manage one’s emotions and develop self-discipline is what determines whether they will be successful.
On another note, if you have signed up to my mailing list, you would have gotten a prompt email asking you for topic suggestions. I have received quite a few responses and most of them are related to how to deal with stress and negative emotions and thoughts.
Life gets easier when you become more positive and more resilient - when you know how to bounce back from setbacks in life, combat negative thoughts, stay calm in irritating situations, and let go of bad people whom you may have loved.
Being self-disciplined is not easy. It requires a lot of self-control. However, I believe that when you live life in flow - when you do the things you love and are naturally good at and move at your own natural pace - you don’t feel like you need to heavily rely on something that can instantly fix your energy. You just flow. You feel energized. You feel passionate - and in this case, you work hard towards your goal because your passion intrinsically motivates you. You feel happy.
5. Life’s end goal is not to find happiness.
The goal in life is not to search for happiness. In fact, all you have to do is to stop trying to find happiness and just be happy. When you feel like the current state is not good enough, you’re not happy enough, you start looking else where. This is when the search for happiness keeps going on forever and you wonder why you never feel happy.
It all starts with acceptance - the acceptance of self, of circumstances, and of situations.
Life will never be perfect. But life seems perfect when you’ve accepted that life is not perfect. Happiness comes when you accept the imperfection, the flaws, the ups and downs, and enjoy the moments in life. Realize that everything is fleeting - the good thing will pass, the bad thing will pass - just accept life as it is. Adjust and adapt yourself to situations as much as you can - if you’re tight on money this month, then spend less; if you hate your job, then quit or plan to quit; if your partner is abusive, then break up with him/her; if you’re prone to sickness, then start exercising and eat well.
Life is not meant to be perfect, nor is it meant to be easy.
Life is a game. You are the player. And the players pride themselves in their ability to beat challenges.
You may not realize this but we seem to constantly find challenges for ourselves to get through - whether it be getting to the top of our career, buying a car, owning a house, moving to another country, having a kid and then another kid, starting our own business, investing in businesses, learning another language, or doing triathlon.
Life has its own flow. Find your natural self. Do what you’re good at. And let life take its course.