If you, like me, have ever felt overwhelmed with so many pieces of advice and steps mentioned in self-help books and videos, and you do not know how to apply all of those teachings into your life unless you carry a list with you at all times, I recommend you prioritize, keep everything you learn written down and put it to practice whenever you can, maybe implement what you learn on a weekly basis. If you want to get started but cannot decide what to implement from the ocean of different advise out there, make a short list of your own standards for your life. These are the set of standards to live by every single day. Do not feel limited, go as big as you want. Remember just because people do not have a list of standards for themselves I (although I am sure many do), that doesn’t mean that you should stick to the status quo. Set standards for yourself and more importantly stick to them, such as to always treat people with respect, never assume things, always put hard work before play, always give back, always dress to impress, open up conversations every time you go out, etc. Go through this personal list everyday, at least twice per day, and put them to practice every time you can so they slowly become habits. The purpose of this method is to be able to remember what you want to apply easily at all times.
It is by changing YOURSELF that you can start influencing and changing others. When I say standards I mean strict rules or boundaries by which you live YOUR daily life regardless of other people´s opinions. We should not care if these standards are too strict or too loose, or if they are in congruence with other peoples´ standards, we must think what works for us, and in my opinion even push ourselves a little bit out of our comfort zone, to help us grow.
These life standards have to be specific, realistic and measurable. So far, the main standards that guide my life as are 11 (will narrow down the list):
1- I take responsibility for 100% of the things that happen to me or that I am involved in. The only time I am not fully responsible is when something extraordinary happens (i.e you get robbed inside a Police Station by a magician who didn’t even have to put his hand inside your pocket to get your wallet). Plan for everything, expect the best but be ready for the worst.
2- Follow a financial plan. I have a financial plan on Excel. it is a basic model, its not finished yet. I only track salary as well as other income sources, as well as main expenses. I am still learning to use it. I also have a Mac app called Home Budget. These two will help me feel more in control and plan for the future.
3- Always be curious. This came to me after reading about socializing. In my many ventures to learn more about people and the psychology behind interactions, I learned that just being genuinely curious in other people will make you a better conversationalist and more likely to connect with others. This applies not only to people but also to everything in life, the news, your career etc. This genuine curiosity will make you want to learn more and go deeper into ideas. Think like a kid and explore.
4- Quality over quantity. This applies to literally EVERYTHING. The people you allow into your live, the work you put into something, the words you use every day, the time you spend doing different things, and so on. Another term that can apply here is the 80/20 rule of Pareto, which says that 80% of the results are caused by 20% of the input we provide. When in doubt, always prioritize, what do I have to do now so that I am one step closer to achieving my goals. Instead of hanging out everyday with the same people and do boring things, go out with them once per week for instance, but do something incredible that is memorable with them.
5- Put yourself FIRST! No more Mr Nice Guy. For some time I tried to fit in with people but feeling down whenever I failed. I realized that I couldn’t expect others to love me if I did not love myself. It is by spending more time doing things i like and being likable to myself only, that I will project this to others. Also I have realized that only after I stopped caring what other people thought of me, and just focusing on maximizing my time and happiness, that I finally started losing my social anxiety and having more pleasant conversations. I encourage people to start working on themselves and stop worrying about what others think. If you want to workout to look good, do it for yourself first, any other reason is secondary.
6- Have a growth mentality always in the social and career department. This is self-explanatory. To always look to grow, whether it is with a personal project or just swinging it, always look to keep learning and improving yourself. It can be as simple as learning one new thing each day, something you can apply in your life to make things easier or stand out. This is the main idea behind The Great Growth, to grow to levels of greatness! In the social department, always look to keep improving as a friend and/or boyfriend, and also to keep increasing the number of people you interact with to remove social anxiety. In career, always look to keep improving your skills and become the best at what you do, no matter what job it is.
7- Always be effective/competent. Even if it is with small wins. After spending years planning and working on my personal project (and failing several times), I came to the realization that although I had several goals for my life that demanded several daily tasks to be completed, I was completing less than half of what I planned. I was focusing on quantity over quality. Being effective means actually getting things done, and by being effective first I will then practice on being efficient. Start doing things right, learn from mistakes and focus on achievement, results count. Start getting things done instead of procrastinating your way to disaster. Finish what you start.
8- Take good care of your physical appearance. This includes having perfect personal hygiene every day (brush teeth after every meal, floss and use mouth wash twice per day, shower daily, take care of skin and hair, nails too. This is how you present yourself to the world). Also while on the subject of appearance, get in the best shape of your life (not only for obvious social reasons but also to show commitment to yourself and boldness) and dress to impress. I can guarantee you I will use suits to chill by the house as soon as I begin looking fit. Sort of like Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, who wore a suit an almost all episodes, and rocked the look.
9- Face your anxiety constantly until you begin exiting your comfort zones. Answer the phone whenever it rings (have the guts to to tell the banks you are just not interested but thanks for calling), drive more often (to rid you of your driving anxiety), talk to people (screw social anxiety). I do not think you can really get rid of anxiety, but you can make it more comfortable to be around with. Basically, start facing your fears, this is the only way to start losing them.
10- Be bold, assertive, aggressive. Life is a game and everyone is competing somehow. I am not saying to pick up a fight with everyone, I’m saying to avoid being a wuss and standing up for your beliefs.
11- Always respect people and their boundaries, no matter the prejudice. This is something I will teach my children as well, this and being a gentleman, or just being kind in general to others is something that I see less often now a days. Call men sir and women madame, do not assume nor gossip, avoid fights, do not yell at the cashier person for messing up your order, treat others like you would like them to treat you.
Once again, if you are like me and have read lots of books and articles about how to change your life for good, only to find yourself confused with so many pieces of advise and steps, just remember this rule of thumb that I like: it only takes ONE idea to change your life, or ONE life standard. Whether that one standard is to always be positive, to always look for ways to grow, to always achieve 2 hours of productivity, and everything else is just an extra, then be my guest. This takes the example of setting standards I explained, and narrows it down to only one standard. Just living by one important standard (i.e never giving up) will prevent you from failing (because you will focus all your time an effort to accomplishing that standard, and you will not be fatigued nor distracted by all other standards one might try to follow and apply). Only because everybody else is doing the same thing does not mean you have to follow (unless it is completely obvious you should), if everybody got out partying but you have a big test coming up and you want to stay home on Friday nights to study, make it your standard, for instance.
A fun experiment to try is to apply just one standard per week, or even per month, to really be able to focus on following through with what you really want to improve. This is an example of single tasking instead of multi tasking, but in the end you do whatever works for you.