Successful people live by a different set of rules. Collecting accolades, reaching the top of the corporate ladder, or acquiring riches isn’t as important as having a calling, pursuing a dream, and changing lives.
Successful people inspired by a mission strive to leave behind a legacy. Fair warning, though: When all is said and done, it’s really not about you. It took years for me to develop the understanding that life is about giving, service, and meaningful relationships.
And when you give, the rules of reciprocity kick in. Having said that, you’ll need a template for living life according to a higher purpose. I suggest nine strategies starting today.
1. Place yourself in someone else’s shoes.
Empathy and compassion are things you can develop, and it starts with thinking about other people’s circumstances, understanding their pains and frustrations, and knowing that those emotions are every bit as real as our own. This helps you develop perspective, and opens you up to helping others, which also enhances your sense of gratitude.
2. Have an insatiable curiosity.
In one famous quote, Albert Einstein explained his genius when he said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” As it turns out, curiosity is an immensely useful quality most of us–not just the Einsteins among us–can activate to our advantage. Several studies reveal that curious people have better relationships and connect better with others. In fact, other people are more easily attracted and feel socially closer to individuals who display curiosity.
3. Find your true purpose.
Remind yourself frequently that the purpose of your life is not to work 10 hours per day, five days per week for 30 years, then retire to a golf course in Florida. Your true purpose should be to discover your calling and bask in the joy of the journey along the way, one step at a time. In the end, your legacy is left to these two questions:
- What impact did I make on the lives of others?
- Whom did I serve and make better?
4. Practice patience.
Patience is a virtue that helps you relax and rethink your choices when things are snowballing out of control. Patience helps build self-control; you’ll begin see the innocence in other people during those really frustrating moments of life.
5. Learn from wiser souls.
The smartest people view themselves as small fishes in the great big pond of life. They expand their networks and seek out sage connections to learn new things. Who are the people you look up to? Invite one of them to coffee and ask questions about things that will help you grow. Not only will it make you better, but also that person will appreciate the chance to pay it forward.
6. Pursue peace.
Get involved in an activity that’s enjoyable, something that will bring back the bounce in your step. What is it that you love to do? What brings you peace? Hint: Think hobbies, nature, friends, or exercise. I swim for an hour before work, as it releases endorphins and gets me going. What’s going to bring you peace?
7. Build your self-awareness.
Self-awareness happens when we choose to see two sides of an issue by tapping into our feelings and those of others for a different outcome. It helps us to respond instead of react to people. By redirecting negative thoughts and emphasizing positive ones, you can be the real you and enjoy interpersonal relationships much better.
8. Be more spontaneous.
Add spontaneity to your life by doing what you feel is necessary for healthy living. If you’re at work, take regular breaks: Stretch, do breathing exercises, go for a walk outside (or schedule a walking meeting in the woods), take a 15-minute nap, play a game, or just enjoy yourself. And next week, think about picking up a new hobby. Surprise yourself!
9. Accept the practice of failing forward.
If you’re the type of person who gives up too soon after failing and you just can’t bounce back from a setback, you’re missing one of the greatest lessons of every successful person: Failing is part of the journey that will lead to success. Accept this fact early on so that when failure comes knocking and tries to scare you away, you stare it down with confidence and embrace it, learn from your mistakes, and try again a different way.
What would your life look like if you practiced some of these things everyday? What will you do to live a more intentional life?