Around this time of year, many of us take a moment or two to reflect on what the preceding 12 months had in store. Was it a winning year for you? Was it the most trying year of your life? No matter how you slice it, looking back creates in most people the desire to “take the bull by the horns” and really win at life in the coming New Year. But HOW do we do that?
The answer to that question is a little different for each of us. If you look at societal statistics, many people in the U.S. approach “winning at life” with new or renewed commitments to diet and exercise. Some take a stab at it through clearing out the clutter in their homes, minds and lives. Still others approach it in a thousand different ways and for most folks over the following few months, no matter the form the attempt took, the commitment begins to fizzle.
That predictable fizzle of motivation to keep up the good work comes largely from the fact that there is no magic bullet train to success – in business, in sports, or in life. Winning at life really does involve a series of small commitments, over time. It doesn’t come from quirky habit adjustments or popularly-timed fads. Over the course of my career, I’ve seen successful people who are truly happy (you can’t have one without the other, my friends) commit to some values that may not seem all that important, but can pay huge life dividends over the long-term:
Adaptability – The world’s most successful people are pretty adaptable. That means they can change. They can change their approach to a problem, their perspective on a relationship and yes, they can even change their minds, easily. They do it without goading or resentment, but with vigor and tenacity. People who can change their minds aren’t wishy-washy. They’re adaptable. And in a world that looks different from one day to the next, it’s a life skill worth honing.
Selflessness – People who are successful in life are also often givers. Not necessarily of money, though they may give monetarily too. But successful folks are often selfless sharers of their time and their talents, especially with people who have less than they do. Just so you know, there is ALWAYS someone with less than you.
Wisdom – Successful people are wise. This isn’t the same thing as being smart. A vast number of people are smart or have great expertise in their areas of expertise. Wisdom however comes from a different place. Wisdom is a quiet voice that listens well and humbles itself to learn life’s lessons in ways that aren’t always glamorous.
Forgiveness – A few paragraphs up, I said that you can’t be successful without also being happy. It’s true. You can be wealthy and be wildly unhappy. That’s not success in life. You also can’t be happy without being able to forgive. Resentment, mistrust and hatred will propel you down a path to despair faster than a New York subway can take you. They’re emotions that are focus-consuming and perspective-distorting. If you’ve got someone in your life that you have a tough time forgiving – it may be time to try, even if it’s just in your mind and heart. You can’t win at life if you’re bogged down by negativity and the true beneficiary of your forgiveness? It’s actually you!
This year, as you renew that gym membership and commit to a fresh start, why not try on some adaptability, selflessness, wisdom and forgiveness exercises on for size at the same time? I’ll tell you this, if you can master those – you’ll absolutely be able to tackle the treadmill. Win-win. It’s always within.
Happy New Year!