1. There are thousands of people who live their entire lives on the default settings, never realizing they can customize everything. – Don’t settle for the default settings in life. Find your loves, your talents, your passions, and embrace them. Don’t hide behind other people’s decisions. Don’t let others tell you what you want. Design YOUR journey every step of the way! The life you create from doing something that moves you is far better than the life you get from sitting around wishing you were doing it.
2. The right journey is the ultimate destination. – The most prolific and beneficial experience in life is not in actually achieving something you want, but in seeking it. It’s the journey towards an endless horizon that matters—goals and dreams that move forward with you as you chase them. It’s all about meaningful pursuits—the “moving”—and what you learn along the way. Truly, the most important reason for moving from one place to another is to see what’s in between. In between is where passions are realized, love is found, strength is gained, and priceless life-long memories are made.
3. The willingness to do hard things opens great windows of opportunity. – One of the most important abilities you can develop in life is the willingness to accept and grow through times of difficulty and discomfort. Because the best things are often hard to come by, at least initially. And if you shy away from difficulty and discomfort, you’ll miss out on them entirely. Mastering a new skill is hard. Building a business is hard. Writing a book is hard. A marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. Staying healthy is hard. But all are amazing and worth every bit of effort you can muster. Realize this now. If you get good at doing hard things, you can do almost anything you put your mind to.
4. Small, incremental changes always change everything in the long run. – The concept of taking it one step at a time might seem absurdly obvious, but at some point we all get caught up in the moment and find ourselves yearning for instant gratification. We want what we want, and we want it now! And this yearning often tricks us into biting off more than we can chew. So, remind yourself: you can’t lift a thousand pounds all at once, yet you can easily lift one pound a thousand times. Tiny, repeated efforts will get you there, gradually.
5. No one wins a game of chess, or the game of life, by only moving forward. – Sometimes you have to move backward to put yourself in a position to win. Because sometimes, when it feels like you’re running into one dead end after another, it’s actually a sign that you’re not on the right path. Maybe you were meant to hang a left back when you took a right, and that’s perfectly fine. Life gradually teaches us that U-turns are allowed. So turn around when you must! There’s a big difference between giving up and starting over in the right direction.
6. The biggest disappointments in life are often the result of misplaced expectations. – When we are young our expectations are few, but as we age our expectations tend to balloon with each passing year. The key is to understand that tempering unrealistic expectations of how something “should be” can greatly reduce unnecessary stress and frustration. With a positive attitude and an open mind, we often find that life isn’t necessarily any easier or harder than we thought it was going to be; it’s just that “the easy” and “the hard” aren’t always the way we had anticipated, and don’t always occur when we expect them to. This isn’t a bad thing—it makes life interesting, if we are willing to see it that way.
7. Our character is often most evident at our highs and lows. – Be humble at the mountaintops, be strong in the valleys, and be faithful in between. And on particularly hard days when you feel that you can’t endure, remind yourself that your track record for getting through hard days is 100% so far.
8. Life changes from moment to moment, and so can you. – When hard times hit there’s a tendency to extrapolate and assume the future holds more of the same. For some strange reason this doesn’t happen as much when things are going well. A laugh, a smile, and a warm fuzzy feeling are fleeting and we know it. We take the good times at face value in the moment for all they’re worth and then we let them go. But when we’re depressed, struggling, or fearful, it’s easy to heap on more pain by assuming tomorrow will be exactly like today. This is a cyclical, self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t allow yourself to move past what happened, what was said, what was felt, you will look at your future through that same dirty lens, and nothing will be able to focus your foggy judgment. You will keep on justifying, reliving, and fueling a perception that is worn out and false.
9. You can fight and win the battles of today, only. – No matter what’s happening, you can resourcefully fight the battles of just one day. It’s only when you add the battles of those two mind-bending eternities, yesterday and tomorrow, that life gets overwhelmingly difficult and complicated.
10. Not being “OK” all the time is normal. – Sometimes not being OK is all we can register inside our tired brains and aching hearts. This emotion is human, and accepting it can feel like a small weight lifted. Truth be told, it’s not OK when someone you care about is no longer living and breathing and giving their amazing gifts to the world. It’s not OK when everything falls apart and you’re buried deep in the wreckage of a life you had planned for. It’s not OK when the bank account is nearly at zero, with no clear sign of a promising income opportunity. It’s not OK when someone you trusted betrays you and breaks your heart. It’s not OK when you’re emotionally drained to the point that you can’t get yourself out of bed in the morning. It’s not OK when you’re engulfed in failure or shame or a grief like you’ve never known before. Whatever your tough times consist of, sometimes it’s just NOT OK right now. And that realization is more than OK.