Inspiring Stories


It is often said that everything is about perspective. When you are thirsty and are given a glass half full of water, you can choose to hungrily-sorry, thirstily- grab that glass you see half empty( afraid that because it’s half empty it won’t be enough for you should someone else come to grab it before you do) Or you could choose to see that glass half full and with a heart full of gratitude, and savoring the moment, walk steadily to the glass assured that there is enough for you and that anyone who might be parched and wants to get a sip, would as well get one!
This analogy is all mine of course, but we all know about choosing “to see the glass half full or half empty”.

We have all heard about the GOOD,the BAD, and the UGLY of this crazy COVID 19 pandemic.
Some relationships have blossomed under this trying period. My daughter and I have graduated from being Mother and Child to being BEST FRIENDS, now able to talk about everything and anything!
Some couples have met online ( on frequent zoom meetings- yes!) and ended up being married( and yes- it was a zoom wedding!!)
Sadly, many have also died during this horrible pandemic.
Some have lost spouses or family members .
A woman who had lost her mother ( she was an only child) said on TV that what hurt her the most was not being able to visit her mother when she was in hospital to “hug her and say goodbye “. That, she said, broke her heart more than her actual death.
So ,this day I was feeling kind of low and moody.
I stopped watching the news because every time I turned on the tv, someone was either dying or dead!
I got up and sauntered into my son s room.
It became our guest room as he was not living with me anymore.
The room looked different . I crawled under the sheets and as I lay my head on the down -filled pillow,I felt some calm and that away- from- home feeling . Was I at home or in a hotel room somewhere??
It certainly looked like a hotel room-small,cosy,intimate with an oversized television set! I picked up the remote control to switch it on. Then I put it down. I wanted some quiet.
I was in an exotic hotel room on an exotic island. Then I drifted off to sleep…..
I must have slept for long because I heard what seemed like three solid knocks on the door- knock! Knock! Knock!
Three knocks! On the third knock I woke up and said “ yes, who’s that?”
A voice answered “ Room service Ma’am!”
I replied( now fully awake and playing along)
“Room service? But I didn’t order any room service!”
Voice: “Oh yes you did! Open the door and maybe when you see the breakfast tray, you’ll remember that you did!”
Me: “ what’s on the tray?”
Voice:”ma’am , I’ll take the tray away if you don’t open the door this minute!”
Me:”Really? I’ll make sure I report you to the manager !”
Voice:”Mum, I Am the manager! Open the door or your food will be cold. I made you your favorite and I won’t tell you unless you open the door!”
Knowing she’s capable of taking the tray back downstairs, I quickly opened the door.( I must have really thought I was in a hotel room because I had double locked the door!!).
My daughter , the manager turned room service server, entered and set a tray of food with a delicious aroma on the bed and sat on the bed to watch me eat the most welcome and most delicious room service meal I’d had in my life!
Served with love by the manager herself!
No prize for guessing how my day went!
Now I know where to go to feel like I’m away in a hotel room in any location my imagination chooses to take me! It’s easy to re-create what you want when you want. Just look around you, and give thanks to God for so many things He has given you that you have not even thought of or recognized.
Yes, give thanks and much more will be given you!

Aunty Grace

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Inspiring Stories


Never in my life, not once in my life, did I ever imagine that I would be holding a pen in my hand, wanting to pour out my heart on paper, but words fail me!
Never in my life, did I imagine, that I will be holding a pen, and instead of writing words, tears are pouring down my face, unable to see what I’d started to write! Rivers of Babylon ..,,
When a mother cries, all mothers cry. When a mother wails, all mothers wail and When a mother mourns, all mothers mourn, shouting out the name of that beloved child… why, oh why?
The events of 20-10-2020 in a city called Lekki, in Nigeria, a city that for some inexplicable reason ,has taken on a reputation of the “ city to live in” , “a city for the rich” It baffles me as it does many.
A fruit hawker, the Kabu- kabu( an unauthorized or unlicensed cab) or the Okada ( bike rider) will charge you double what he will traditionally charge in other parts of lagos and when you complain, he will tell you (unapologetically I might add) ”this na lekki na!”with a take it or leave it attitude.
“But why?”, you’d ask?
“ Madam this na lekki! You no see the toll gate? I pay money to pass am!”
Yes, I do see the toll gate , the toll gate that conjures up pictures of youths ( the young ones below forty), who I’m told, had organized what was generally acclaimed to be a peaceful demonstration( aka protest) to ask that a certain unit of the police force – SARS (Special Anti Robbery Squad) be scrapped after a young man ( aka a youth) was alleged to have been brutalised by a police officer belonging to that unit.
That snowballed into riots that saw many properties damaged across the nation. There were many reports of shots fired and the number of the wounded or dead varied from one eye witness to the other.
What I’ve not been able to come to terms with is that one shot, (even if it was one shot)was fired!
At who?? Who in the “one love” country, deserved to be shot at? Who???
My heart bleeds, my tears have run dry, as has the ink in my pen……

Aunty Grace

Inspiring Stories

Struggle With Self-Discipline? Try Forming These Habits

Without discipline, we give up easily

Darius Foroux

Image for post

Self-discipline is the ability to make yourself do things even if you don’t want to do them. That’s one of the most important qualities in life.

Especially in 2020, since we’re all forced to work and spend more time at home. There’s not much we can do outside of the house. That requires self-discipline. A lot of discipline.

We can’t travel, eat out, shop comfortably, watch movies at the cinema, go to concerts, and so forth. And yet, we’re expected to behave like good people. We’re expected to work remotely, stay in shape, participate in video calls, take online courses, keep in touch with family, you name it.

Without self-discipline, we will revert back to giving up. Because whether you’re aware of it or not, we’re all headed towards chaos. That’s the natural direction of life.

We need self-discipline to fight back. But how do you develop it? It remains a complex issue, and no one has the answers. Jocko Willink simply says that you must do things and not complain. I like that, but for us mortals, it’s not that simple.

One thing I know is that it doesn’t happen overnight. I prefer to focus on habits that lead to discipline, instead of focusing on self-discipline itself. So here’s a list of habits I’ve adopted that made me more disciplined.

Hold yourself accountable

If you say you’re going to do something, do it. And if you can’t, have a good reason. That’s the foundation of self-discipline. But you don’t do things so you can prove something to others.

No, you do it for yourself. You hold yourself accountable by writing down your goals, intentions, and actions. No one is watching. Just be yourself.

This doesn’t have to be complicated. I write down what I want to do every single day in my journal. Then, at the end of the day, I look at what I actually did. When your actions match your words, you’re on the right track.

Be honest in your communication

To yourself and to others. Honesty is difficult for most of us because it requires humility. We’re often afraid of telling the truth because we think we look weak.

But the opposite is true. When you’re not honest, people can tell. As a result, no one will take you seriously. We all have weaknesses and issues. There’s no need to hide it. There’s also no need to play the victim. Simply stick to the truth.

When you keep on being honest with yourself and others, it’s easier to be disciplined. Because it’s not the end of the world when we screw up. I have bad days too. I eat junk food. I skip my workouts. But I’m honest about it when I do. That brings me back on the right path.

Set the right example

Never expect people to do something you’re not doing. And if you’re doing something others are not doing, don’t expect them to do it.

“What’s that?” I know. It sounds like a paradox. It comes down to this: Do the right thing and have zero expectations of others. If some people don’t want to do that themselves, it’s not your problem. Keep on setting the right example. This is one of the biggest cliches in the world, but let your actions speak for you.

Improve every day

Most people don’t have the patience and drive to improve. Recently, a person who bought my writing course said it was too much work to improve their writing. No kidding?!

Of course it’s hard to improve yourself. That’s why most people don’t do it. I gave that person a refund. It’s not for you. There are enough people who do want to improve themselves. If you have the will to improve, you don’t have to worry about self-discipline.

But you need to have a reason to improve. Why do you want to get better at a skill? What do you want to use it for? Why do you want to get in shape? What will you do when you’re fitter?

Think on paper

Putting your thoughts into words helps you to understand yourself and what you’re doing. I often come up with an idea that sounds great in my head.

But then I put my idea into words. I start thinking on paper. I simply write down my thought process. I start like this: “I have a new idea. It’s…” By the end of the page, I know whether it’s useless or not. Often, my behavior is not a matter of self-discipline — or a lack of it.

Sometimes you don’t do something because it’s not the right thing to do. So always think on paper. After you’ve scribbled down your thoughts, let it rest, and get back to it a few days later.

Then, you think “this is great” or “this is stupid”. Either way, you win. Why? You used your brain as a tool.

Do what you can

Look, life is far from perfect. We will never have the perfect circumstances to work. You know, I wish I lived in a mansion on the beach. I wish it never rained when I want to go outside. I wish, I wish, I wish. It’s all fun and games. But in life, we must do what we can with what we have.

  • Tired? Do what you can.
  • Fired? Do what you can.
  • Got to pay your bills? Do what you can.
  • Shitty house? Do what you can.
  • No friends? Do what you can.

(Fill in your excuse)? Do what you can. Complaining is for losers who have zero self-discipline.

Look ahead, very far ahead

It will not always remain summer. Life moves in cycles. Sometimes it’s great for a long time. And sometimes it’s bad for a long time. Things happen. Economies collapse. Jobs disappear. Natural disasters happen. Pandemics shut down life. You name it.

The best way to deal with all of it is to be prepared. Train your body and your mind. Build a cash buffer. Get rid of excess. Life is very long.

Live NOW

But none of the above means you should always think about the future. Life happens NOW.

Working from home, reading a book, going for a walk, spending time with loved ones; all those things happen right now. You’re not helping yourself by being lost in your thoughts.

You only help yourself by being disciplined about living in the present. I remind myself of this several times a day.

Did you know that living in the present is a skill? You’ve acquired it once you’re aware of your thoughts. That’s all. So next time you’re preoccupied, clenching your jaw, and not paying attention to what’s in front of you, snap out of it. “Just like that?”

Yes, just like that. Get back to what matters most: The one thing that’s right in front of you.

This article was originally published on

Inspiring Stories


The Lockdown, occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic has made some people to devise ingenious ways of doing things. Nothing is the same anymore and survival has taken on a new meaning.
While sadly, some have been victims of domestic violence, some, like my friend Blessing ( not her real name)has found ways to cut down entertainment costs that used to take a chunk of her earnings every month.
From asking any visitor who came to her new and tastefully furnished apartment “ would you like some champagne?” she now offers a moderately priced vodka( served in a small shot glass). Often, that’s all you get- one shot
I’m a fan of vodka and tequila believing them to be much “healthier” ( if there’s any such thing, so feeling bored one evening, I decided to pay her a visit.
Now I have to tell you, Blessing is the go- to friend when you are feeling low and in need of some pick- me- up time. She will have you cracking up in less than five minutes and she has this uncanny ability of knowing just when I need cheering up!
As I sat in her beautiful apt, admiring the expensive pieces of furniture, she blurted out
“Aunty Gee, what’s going on? Spill it out!” I replied “Nothing dear. I’m just admiring your taste here. Your apartment is gorgeous!”
In truth, something was on my mind and I wasn’t even sure i knew what! Isn’t that why I stopped by, to laugh and be happy?
Blessing was one of God s blessings to me as a friend. Very frank and respectful all at once. A very intelligent and articulate attorney, she always had me cracking up whenever we shared stories – even mundane stories about every day happenings.
Bringing out an expensive bottle of vodka and what she called the “one- shot glass”( you only get to be served ONE shot- no top up!) she said
“Aunty, this is a special vodka, because it’s you”. Then bringing out another much cheaper I wont-be- caught- dead- drinking vodka, she added” see this one, I reserve for guys who come here and expect me to serve them expensive drinks. In this Covid time, I don’t think so! We must learn to save and be prudent in our spending or we will starve to death-assuming COVID doesn’t get us first!”
Then began the stories that had me cracking up with laughter!
“Aunty Grace, please tell me. Is it right for a guy, to come here , trying to toast( meaning to court) me, without bringing a bottle of wine and then expect me to serve him an expensive drink? Tell me, is it ok if I say i have no drink to offer?”
“ Why didn’t you just offer him the cheap vodka then? You act cheap, you get cheap!” I replied.
“ What happened to the chivalry? Did COVID take that away too?
Couldn’t he have come with a bouquet of flowers or a bottle of wine? What happened to old school courting ?”she asked.
I blamed it on COVID -19 and the economy. Maybe he couldn’t afford either.
“ Do you know what got me really upset? “ she continued “ he had barely sat down when he looked around and said
“Your flat is beautiful! Bring out the champagne !
No other drink should be served in such a lovely flat!”
“As I got up and walked away to put away the cheap vodka I had brought out to serve him, he sprinted up and tried to grab me!”
“Aunty Grace you should have seen us running round my flat in his attempt to get hold of me! Have you seen a hen being chased by a cockerel?
Aunty, I assure you, Tom & Jerry would have been anxious! She proceeded to demonstrate the “chase” while i was rolling on the floor with laughter!
To this day, all I need to cheer me up, is to conjure up the picture of what we now refer to as
“The Great Chase”!
By the way, did I say I had something on my mind…..

Aunty Grace

Inspiring Stories

10 Qualities That Make You Unforgettable

If applied, they can transform your relationships.

I still remember when my friend John called me on a Sunday afternoon two years ago. He had an enthusiastic tone in his voice. “I want you to meet Marta, she is the most incredible woman I’ve ever met. Come to my place tomorrow at 6 p.m. and I’ll introduce you to her.”

He was clearly head over heels. In the beginning, I was slightly skeptical, as I thought it was the typical lustful ‘honeymoon period’ that was influencing him, but I was truly glad to hear him happy and I accepted the invitation.

Fast forward to today, they are still together, and I know Marta much better. I now understand why John was overwhelmingly happy at the beginning of their relationship, and why he’s so in love with her today.

Marta is a great partner to my friend, she’s an amazing friend to me, and she also displays some personality traits that make it particularly difficult to forget her. These are characteristics that you can easily learn and apply to improve your relationships and truly connect with others.

1. Being a Natural Giver

An example of this is when John lost his job. Marta didn’t hesitate to help and told him he could move into her place, so he didn’t have to pay any rent. When he found a new job, he told Marta he would give her back his part of the rent for the months he was unemployed.

However, Marta refused his offer. She told him he could contribute to the rent from that moment on, but that she didn’t want the money for the past few months. She did him a favor — a big favor — without expecting anything in return.

I have always found people like Marta to be unique. They are selfless, and that in itself makes them special.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

We are all somehow inclined to want something in return when we give. However, the easiest thing you can do is learn to do things out of love, without expecting anything in return.

Next time you do someone a favor, do it without wanting anything back. Feel the joy of giving. If then you receive something in return, it will feel great; if not, it won’t be a big deal.

2. Laughing at Yourself

When you take yourself too seriously you hold yourself to an impossibly high standard — which inevitably causes problems both for you and those around you. Anytime you don’t meet that standard, you feel bad about yourself.

People who don’t take themselves too seriously are OK with who they are and what they do because they love themselves and have learned to embrace their imperfect self. If something doesn’t go their way, they have the ability to laugh at themselves.

As John Haltiwanger mentions in one of his articles, being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of mental toughness. Also, as Mark Twain once said,

“The human race has only one really effective weapon and that is laughter.”

And it’s true.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Embrace your imperfect side without fear. Fall in love with it. Learn to healthily laugh at yourself as you would do with your best friend when they do something funny. And don’t get upset over small things; laugh at them, instead.

3. Never Trying to Impress Others

Unlike Marta, John’s ex, Carla, was continuously bragging about herself and her accomplishments. She tried to impress others all the time. And she hardly asked others anything about their life, hobbies, or career. I had always seen her as a great person, but it was clear she had some insecurities to work on at that time.

I don’t know about you, but when I see someone trying too hard to impress, the first thing I perceive is insecurity.

When someone talks about themselves naturally instead — without stretching the truth — and is also genuinely interested in knowing more about you, it’s pleasant to be in their company. The conversation is balanced.

Unforgettable people usually speak about themselves only when asked to, and they don’t overwhelm you with too many details. They don’t feel the need to impress others. When you talk to them they are relaxed, natural, and spontaneous.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

If you often find yourself trying hard to impress others, work on yourself, and on your self-confidence. When you know your value and have high self-esteem, you won’t feel the need to prove yourself to others.

4. Having Strong Boundaries

One night I was out for dinner with Marta and John and we were talking about traveling alone. This is a passion Marta and I have in common, however, John seemed a bit reluctant to accept the fact that his girlfriend wanted to travel alone from time to time.

“Why can’t we just travel together? I don’t get it” he asked her. John never traveled alone, so it was understandable he didn’t fully get our need to go on a solo trip once in a while.

Marta replied, “Honey, traveling is my passion, and don’t worry, most of the time we will travel together. However, from time to time I like to travel alone, as it helps me disconnect completely. I will keep doing it because it is one of my favorite things in the world. And please trust me, because you know that I would never cheat on you.”

She was basically setting healthy boundaries. John didn’t like the idea of Marta traveling alone, but she loved to do it. So, she kept going on solo trips once or twice a year. She didn’t give up on her passion for my friend. That’s attractive — as long as you take the time to understand the other person’s feelings and point of view.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Simple. Never give up on who you are, on your standards, and on your passions — as long as this doesn’t interfere with respecting others. Be you.

5. Having Your Emotions Under Control

People like Marta don’t act on their emotions. They reflect before talking instead. If someone hits a particular nerve, they take their time to cool off before responding.

Having control over your emotions is one of the most attractive qualities you can have. Sometimes it’s difficult when there are people that can drive you nuts, I know. However, it’s how you respond that defines you, not how others treat you. And you can train yourself to have control over that.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

As one of my favorite writers, Barry Davret, explains in one of his articles, whenever someone says or does something that sets you off, take a deep breath and pull out a pen and piece of paper. Then, allow yourself some time to cool off — if you can wait for 24 hours to pass before you take any other action.

Writing down whatever is going on in your mind will help you dissipate those negative emotions. Taking your time to cool off will help you process and work on your emotions without acting on them.

6. Being Genuinely Happy for Other People’s Success

Envy is undoubtedly one of the worst threats to any kind of relationship. Miserable, insecure people are inherently jealous, which prevents them from connecting with others. People like Marta, instead, are truly happy when it comes to others’ achievements.

I remember when John got promoted in his department shortly after he got his new job. Marta was over the moon. She wanted to celebrate the promotion and organized a dinner at their place with some friends.

As Sean Kernan mentions in one of his articles, envy can be detrimental to relationships. When your partner is your cheerleader instead, and vice-versa, the bond gets stronger, because you both feel you have a true ally by your side. And this applies to any kind of relationship.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Don’t compare yourself to others. You can be as successful as others; the important thing is that you pursue your dreams as they do theirs.

Learn to celebrate others’ accomplishments. Even if it’s not your own success, you have a reason to feel good — for someone else. So just go and feel good. Don’t feel threatened by other people’s success, make it an excuse to celebrate life instead.

7. Being Passionate About Something

I have always found people who are highly passionate about something to be very attractive. It could be enthusiasm for ten different things or even just one simple hobby.

People who pursue a career, a hobby, or any kind of dream with passion transmit a sense of the thrill of life that you can hardly ignore. Their enthusiasm and passion are contagious, and that in itself makes them unforgettable.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Let’s be honest. You can’t force passion. So, make sure you find something to get involved with that you truly love. It can be writing, playing an instrument, your job, dancing, anything.

Get clarity of thought over what your life purpose is and go after it. If you haven’t identified anything yet, try different things; learn, travel, and read a lot. Enjoy the process. You will eventually find your life path, and you will fall in love with it.

8. Being Kind to Strangers

Imagine you are on a date with someone in a restaurant. The person in front of you starts treating the staff badly. For example, they tell them the food was disgusting, without even making eye contact. Then they shout at the waiter and complain about having to wait to be served.

How would you find this person? Charming? Attractive? Probably not.

As Ayodeji Awosika mentions in one of his articles, treating others poorly, shows you have low integrity, empathy, and even self-respect — because people with a high level of self-respect don’t feel the need to act as if they’re above others. And I couldn’t agree more with this.

Now imagine yourself on a date with someone who is kind and warm with others. They smile — without faking it or overdoing it — and it feels good to be in their company. You know they would never make you feel ashamed in public because they clearly have respect for others, no matter what they do.

This is something truly genuine people have in common. They would never treat others poorly, and that speaks volumes about them.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Be warm, kind, and friendly. Call people by their name. If you don’t know their name, ask them. As much as you would love others to be nice to you, remember that others need kindness too. Be the person who brightens someone else’s day.

9. Being Self-Confident Staying Humble

People like Marta are simply confident. You see it from the way they walk, the way they talk, and how they seem relaxed in any situation. Their confidence is healthy because they know their worth and they believe in themselves.

They learned to embrace their imperfect and most authentic self. And they are extremely humble.

I don’t know about you, but I find the combination of confidence and humility particularly attractive. When someone is confident, but at the same time humble, you are more likely to feel drawn to them, because you will never, nor should ever, feel threatened by them. It’s easier to open up to them and create a connection.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Remember that your flaws don’t make you unlikable. They make you authentic, and there’s nothing more beautiful than that. Learn to embrace your imperfect and vulnerable side, see the beauty in it. That’s the starting point of true confidence.

However, also remind yourself that others are as beautiful and unique as you are, no one is better than anyone. This will help you stay humble.

10. Taking Care of Your Body

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”

Jim Rohn

I have always admired Marta for the way she treats her body. She consistently takes care of it — by eating extremely healthy, drinking herbal teas, taking long walks, meditating, and working out regularly for example — which is attractive because it is a sign of self-respect and self-love.

When you truly love yourself, you automatically take care of yourself as you would do with a loved one — because as you want the best for them, you also want the best for yourself.

How to apply this, in a nutshell

Your body and mind are your most valuable assets. Remember that consistently loving and taking care of yourself gives you the fuel you needto be at your best every day. This means not only eating healthy foods, drinking water, and working out — which is essential — but also keeping your health in check and making it your number one priority.

Learning and applying these simple qualities can transform your relationship with yourself and with others.

If you want people to remember you in a positive way, keep this in mind: it all comes down to how you treat yourself and behave around others, which is something under your control.

People like my friend Marta are not necessarily drop-dead gorgeous. What they have in common is they usually make you experience strong positive emotions when you are in their company. Because they love to spread positivity and are happy if they can make you feel good.

Be like them, be unforgettable.

Inspiring Stories

You Can Do Amazing Things — But Only If You Have Time to Do Them

You Don’t Find Time; You Make Time. Here’s How.

If it’s really that important, schedule it.

Anthony Moore· 8 min read

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” -Warren Buffet

You probably need to say “no” a lot more.

Every time you say yes to something, it means you’re saying “no” to a dozen other opportunities. The world’s most successful and extraordinary people say no to almost everything, waiting to say yes to only the very best opportunities.

These few things will determine their career, legacy, and livelihood.

Warren Buffet, investor extraordinaire and a net worth of over $70 billion dollars, has said that for every hundred opportunities he is given, he might say yes to 1–2 of them. He joked that his investment strategy “borders on lethargy” — he declines so many offers, it might look like he never does anything!

In truth, really successful people say no to most things, because most things won’t get them to where they truly want to be.

Steve Jobs also shared this mentality. Decades ago, he said:

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things.”

You can do amazing things — but only if you have time to do them.

Focus less on the kinda-cool opportunities, and start focusing more on the truly great ones. Even if you have to wait a while.

Saying Yes To One Thing Means Saying “No” To Many Others — So Choose Wisely

“The most successful people I know are not “busy” — they’re focused.” -Jeff Goins, best-selling author

When you take on one task — a new project, a weekly trivia night with coworkers, a new yoga class — you are also saying “no” to other tasks that could fill up your time.

The trick is to take on tasks you truly want to do.

Life isn’t all business — the times I spent getting a beer with friends or having a 2-hour Skype call with my best friend across the country are invaluable to me. Everyone needs time to just screw around and relax.

But saying yes to one thing means saying no to many others. And if you keep saying yes to the wrong things — the kinda-good opportunities that ultimately aren’t helping you get where you want to go — then soon, you won’t be able to say yes to the truly important things.

Back when I worked in a desk job in corporate America, everyone was always trying to get me to do “more things” — join a committee, develop new programs, mentor new-hires, and always, always go to meetings, meetings, and more damn meetings.

After a long time of saying yes to all these random projects, I realized just how pointless they are were — my goal was to be a writer and work for myself. Going to another optional meeting for improving new-hire orientation simply wasn’t helping me achieve my goal.

So I began saying no to almost everything. No more committees, projects, and a serious “Hell no” to more meetings. I had a new focus — complete my day-job work to the best of my abilities, but all my spare energy would go to my true goal: becoming a writer.

Eventually, I succeeded — I now write full-time from home as my own boss. I’m a published author and have a successful coaching business.

I had to say “no” many times to get here.

But that’s what it takes.

Decrease Your “Busyness” and Increase Your Focus On Important Things

A lot of people would rather have the empty dopamine hit of checking off boxes on their to-do lists instead of actually putting in important work. Why? Being “busy” can feel good in the moment. You feel like you’re getting a lot done.

But a life full of busyness drains your energy, focus, and discipline. It’s so hard to come home and do important work when you’ve spent all day being busy.

Sadly, most people aren’t living a focused life — if they are, they’re focusing on the wrong things: money, fame, jealousy and comparison, or “beating the competition.”

The main culprit for most people’s lack of focus is busyness. It’s so easy to get sucked into doing busy work, and it kills your focus over time. In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey has an interesting illustration for what is “urgent” and what is truly “important”:

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James Covery Time Management Matrix

Most people spend most of their time in the bottom left — doing urgent yet not important tasks like email, meetings, putting out fires, and dealing with interruptions.

In other words: busyness. And busyness sucks.

When you focus on busyness, your time is wasted very quickly, and you don’t get a lot done. You feel tired, but not in a good way — you feel tired and also that you still haven’t done much. That sucks!

But when you set boundaries and refuse to tolerate mindless “busyness,”you become far more productive very quickly. You start to find more meaning and focus in your life. You start achieving actual goals, not just checking off empty boxes of your to-do list.

Frankly, a lot of people just want to be busy. They want the badge of honor: all the running around, endless obligations, all their time spoken for. To some people, that’s admirable.

Still, others realize how silly the empty-calorie “busyness” really is. At the end of the day, would you rather be able to brag to people about how “busy” you are, or truly live a life on your terms where you do meaningful work?

Choose to focus on a few important things that waste your days being “busy”.

How Highly Effective and Incredibly Successful People View Time

“How can you achieve your 10 year plan in the next 6 months?” -Peter Thiel, billionaire

World-class performers don’t strive for “balance” — they actually strive for time abundance.

“Balance” implies partial amounts of energy given to everything: 33% to family, 33% to work, 33% to relaxing, and the like.

But think about it. Are you really satisfied with giving your family only 33% of your energy? Or your work? Or your relaxation time?

This is not the path to becoming an extraordinary, world-class version of yourself.

The world’s most successful people give 100% of their time to whatever they are doing.

They are hyper-focused and relentlessly present with what’s directly in front of them: their work duties, their current set at the gym, their family across the table, or their daughter begging to go outside and play. Wherever you are, be there.

The most successful people in the world became so successful because they learned how to master time. They understand “balance” isn’t the goal — abundance is. They can do as much as they want.

They learned the most important truth about time there is: the rules are made up. They don’t apply to you. You can accomplish any goal imaginable in an extremely short length of time.

You just have to know how to use the time you’re given.

“Don’t seek time balance. Seek time abundance.” -Grant Cardone

If You Don’t Control How You Spend Your Time, You Won’t Have Any Left

The great science fiction author Neal Stephenson once commented on how he’s able to keep writing long, prolific novels year after year.

If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels,” he said. “But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly.

It’s very easy to let time slip away. Give distractions a minute, they’ll take a whole hour. You need to protect your time. If you don’t, you won’t have any left.

Once you cut out all the fluff, distractions, and procrastination, you can accomplish in one week what it would take others years to finish.

4-year colleges are a great example of this.

If you’re like me, you have a 4-year degree. But you probably only ever took less than a dozen classes in your desired field. The rest was fluff, like pre-requisites and “general education” that had nothing to do with your goal.

If you had 3 hours a week in class, for four 16-week semesters, that total comes to 192 hours of learning.

That’s 8 days.

To receive half of a “4-year” degree.

Obviously, there’s more to it than just class; homework, essays, and studying all take time. But for most students, 95% of school is fluff. Remove the forced summer/winter breaks, screwing around, and partying, and you could complete the requirements for a “4-year” degree in a few weeks.

Most people carry this misunderstood “4-year” principle for the rest of their lives.

They hear “15-year mortgage” and assume takes 15 years to pay for a house. They hear retirement is at 65, so they can’t fathom retiring any earlier. They get 2 weeks of vacation a year, so they think it take 5 years to earn that trip to Europe.

Most people don’t see the trap they’re in. They don’t realize they could complete 1000x the results, 100x faster than before.

NaNoWriMo is one of my favorite examples. If you’ve never heard of it, National Novel Writing Month is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Every year, thousands of writers finish enormous books in 4 short weeks. Many of these writers have created six and seven-figure incomes from their NaNoWriMo projects.

I can use myself as an example about saving an incredible amount of time. When my wife and I moved to Korea, I knew absolutely no Korean.

But while my coworkers signed up for a 16-week Korean language class, I found a video where I learned to read the Korean alphabet in literally 5 minutes through a pneumonic memory strategy. Months into their Korean class, my coworkers could still hardly read the alphabet. I was reading menus at restaurants and navigating bus terminals for us.

If you remove all the breaks, fluff, preparation, and procrastination, you can accomplish your biggest goals in a few months — or even weeks.

In Conclusion

“Most people have no clue what they are doing with their time but still complain that they don’t have enough.” -Grant Cardone

You can accomplish amazing things — but only if you have time to do them.

Strive for time abundance — be 100% present in whatever you’re doing. You’ll accomplish much more in a far shorter time.

Cut out distractions and fluff. Things usually don’t take as long as most people say. When you focus entirely on the task at time, you can enter flow states and achieve incredible progress far faster than anyone around you.

This takes discipline. It requires you to go against what the crowd tells you.

Inspiring Stories

8 Harmful Habits That Drain Your Energy And How To Get Rid Of Them

Sometimes, it’s our little, harmful routines that break our success.

Our daily activities determine our lives.

Something that you occasionally do won’t fundamentally impact your life.

What you do every day, on the other hand, is what determines your long term lifestyle.

That’s why habits are so powerful and why more and more people are diving deep into habit building.

Throughout the last years, tons of research was conducted to figure out why we repeat certain things that harm us and how to build more positive habits.

As I am a personal growth enthusiast, I also paid a lot of attention to this topic.

First, I’ve read books and amazing articles. Then I consumed online courses. Once I mastered building great habits myself, I hosted workshops to support others in creating their routines.

While doing this for the past two years, I realized that sometimes it’s not about the habits that we are trying to build.

Sometimes, it’s our little, harmful routines that break our success.

Whatever success might mean to you, it is always a result of your daily actions.

What I discovered throughout the past months is that we often sabotage ourselves by repeating certain activities that are harmful to our success and wellbeing.

And often, eliminating these damaging activities is not that easy, as we’ve been practicing them for many years.

However, even eliminating or reducing just a few of these bad routines can help to increase your happiness, productivity, and success.

1. Don’t take things personally

Easier said than done, I know.

Yet, I discovered that taking things personally cost me hundreds of hours in the past years.

Especially in my relationship, I often feel offended, even if that’s not his intention.

Most of the time, people are not aiming to hurt or even offend you.

It’s ourselves who interpret a particular meaning to what people say.

Once you manage to stay neutral and stop putting negative meanings to the sayings of others, you will feel much happier and released.

The truth is that we are too selfish.

We tend to believe that we are the center of the universe. That’s why we take things personally instead of focusing on the facts.

Next time you feel offended by a statement, ask your conversation partner what he really meant.

In 99.99 percent of all cases, when they clarify their statement, you will realize that there is no personal assault against you.

Even if it sounds too simple, asking and talking are the most efficient and effective ways of understanding each other.

Communication is exceptionally versatile, and mistakes can happen all the time.

Instead of pondering what somebody might have meant, just ask.

2. Stop holding on to the past

Yes, one more of those cliché life-improvement tips.

You might know one of these studies stating that, on average, we have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts crossing our minds per day.

These numbers are enormous, but what’s even more impressive is the following:

The majority of our thoughts are negative.

Hopefully, not yours and mine, but on average, the majority of people’s thoughts are negative.

They are either thinking about bad things that could happen in the future, or they are stuck in the past, spending their energy on negative happenings that they can’t change anyway.

Both cases are destructive.

However, if done correctly, thinking about the future can empower and motivate you. For example, if you have a strong vision and apply the law of attraction plus visualization techniques, thinking about the future can be a powerful tool to motivate yourself and attract what you desire.

Holding on to the past, on the contrary, doesn’t come with any benefits at all.

We can’t change what previously happened, so letting go of it is the smartest and most efficient thing to do.

What helps me to finish off with the past is taking some time to reflect on it.

By journaling and writing down all my thoughts and concerns, I can let go of previous events easily.

If you feel like a particular event in the past is still bothering you, sit down for a few minutes and write down all your thoughts.

Writing is much more powerful than thinking, as it allows us to structure our thoughts. Thus, it gets easier to see patterns and discover why something might still bother you.

Journaling about your past can be your holy grail for a more peaceful present.

3. Control your social media usage

For tons of people, social media is the number one reason for less joy and energy in their lives.

Yeah, it’s cool to browse through beautiful pictures on Instagram, but seriously: What good does it bring into your life?

Probably none.

I don’t say that social media per se is a bad thing. On the contrary, it’s fantastic, I love it. I am sharing stories on Instagram every day, and I love my community.

However, there’s a massive difference in how you use it.

Are you producing and sharing valuable content or just consuming what others share?

Does your newsfeed inspire you, or does it make you feel like crap?

When I open Instagram, I just see postings of people who inspire me.

I see motivational quotes, affirmations, and people living a life that I admire.

That’s cool because it inspires me to put my phone away and get back to work.

However, the bitter truth is that most people feel frustrated after scrolling through other’s pictures.

Why? Because (especially) Instagram is an entirely faked world.

Of course, people are uploading their biggest highlights, which are additionally photoshopped. And if you are sitting on your couch, wearing pajamas, surely you get frustrated when seeing how amazing the lives of others look like.

Comparing your normal life with other’s highlights won’t ever make you happy.

Focus on yourself.

Use social media to get inspired and to build deep connections, not to make yourself feel bad.

You can set specific timers on your phone that will pop up you once you exceed the usage of a platform, these are great reminders to take care of yourself and your energy.

For example, you can set 15 minutes for Instagram or Facebook, and once you surpass this number, you won’t access the platform for the rest of the day.

This might sound hard, however, by reducing your passive social media usage, you will have a clearer mind plus more time to invest in things that make you feel good.

4. Don’t overstress

Again, easier said than done, I know.

Yet, with a few simple strategies, it becomes easy to stress less.

As mentioned above, most of our stress is because we are not present at the moment. We are either concerned about the future or still stuck in the past.

If you are truly present at the moment, you will not feel any stress, and instead, express gratefulness for all the things that you have at this moment.

Breathing exercises are a straightforward and quick way of eliminating unnecessary stress and being present. Even just a simple deep breath can take away a few of your concerns. Just sit down quietly and take a few minutes to focus on your breathing. After some time, doing these exercises will become more comfortable and an essential part of your life.

Journaling is another excellent way of stopping your thoughts from sabotaging your happiness. By writing down what you think of, you release it. It becomes easier to let it go as it doesn’t bustle around in your head anymore.

By doing breathing exercises and journaling, you will quickly realize that overstressing does not make sense and harms your life. Plus, it will be much easier to let go of the negative and focus on the positive.

5. Take control of your sleep

Sleeping can be your number 1 productivity and energy booster.

Getting a great rest is inevitable for a happy, healthy life.

With just a few tips and tricks, you can quickly improve the quality of your sleep and life.

First of all, make sure to sleep enough. If you sleep four hours per night, no hack can save your energy.

Enough might mean something different for anyone. However, a minimum of six hours is required to regenerate your body and mind.

Sleep in darkness and silence. These two tips can improve the quality of your sleep tremendously. Especially if you are living in a big city, you are probably exposed to sleeping in rooms that are not entirely dark and silent.

However, there are two straightforward ways to solve this: If you can’t wholly darken your room, use a sleep mask. It’s cheap and easy, plus, you can take it with you wherever you go.

If your bedroom is not entirely silent, use earplugs. Also cheap and easy yet super effective.

What’s also important for a night of great sleep is what you do before going to bed.

For example, avoid eating big, fatty meals or doing excessive sports.

Instead, do calm activities. Like journaling, meditation, reading, or light yoga exercises.

6. Take control of your diet

What you eat has a significant impact on your energy level.

If you want to increase your daily power, changing your diet is one of the quickest and most powerful things to do.

Getting rid of processed, unhealthy foods is the first step.

Instead, choose more vegan options. Do a little research and find out which healthy options you like anyway and which you would like to try soon.

Additionally, make sure to stay hydrated. Drinking sufficient water is the perfect base for a stable and robust energy level.

7. Stop complaining all the time

Instead, practice gratitude.

If you want to complain, you will find negative aspects of your life all the time.

We are all just humans, and all of us are experiencing negative situations.

However, those who manage to focus on the good are happier and healthier.

Complaining about things without changing them only drains your energy.

Either take action or focus on the present moment by being grateful for everything that you have in your life.

Nobody likes to be around someone who constantly complains and spreads skepticism.

Don’t be the person who is spreading negativity, instead shine bright and spread positive vibes.

By doing so, you will be happier, and people are going to feel comfortable around you.

8. Stop pleasing others

Living your life according to the expectations of others is the safest way to be unhappy.

At the end of your life, you will look back at all the chances you didn’t take to make yourself happy.

In her book, “Top five regrets of the dying”, Bronnie Ware summarized the biggest regrets of people who were close to death.

Through her work as a palliative nurse, she was in touch with dying people every day, and she soon recognized that most of the regrets were repetitive.

At the end of their lives, people are often disappointed for the same reasons.

One of these regrets of dying people is:

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Spending too much time on pleasing others will cost you so much time and energy in your lifetime.

Start respecting yourself and saying no to things that you won’t be proud of at the end of your life.

Use every minute you have to increase your happiness and energy to live up to your own expectations. Instead of pleasing others, create your own magical life story.

Written by

Sinem Günel

Inspiring Stories

3 Hobbies That Can Improve Your Memory And Maintain a Healthy Brain

Cognitive decline is inevitable as we get older.

According to the American Psychological Association, “the brain’s volume peaks in the early 20s and gradually declines for the rest of life”.

But your lifestyle can slow the process. You can preserve and even enhance your mental capabilities as you age. Simple behaviour changes can help us stay sharp for as long as possible. What you do or don’t do makes a huge difference to your memory skills.

Pursuing both intellectual and physical challenges, as uncomfortable as it may be, is one of the best ways to slow the natural memory decline process. New challenges are a way to exercise the mind and build new pathways.

Embrace New Learning Styles/Formats

Everyone learns in different ways.

You might find reading enormously effective, while your friend would rather watch a video or listen to a podcast. Each path creates differing experiences and memories.

Most people have a dominant style and tend to use that for acquiring new knowledge. Others use a combination of different content types— posts, talks, documentaries, books (digital and physical) and podcasts.

Research shows that each learning style uses different parts of the brain. By involving more of the brain during learning, you can improve your ability to recall information and remember more of what you learn.

I tend to read my books on an iPad. I have started reading more physical copies — I’ve ordered dozens of them to read in the evenings to stay away from screens every now and then. I’ve also been watching more educational documentaries on Netflix.

A new learning style can improve your brain’s processing of information over time. Develop an ability in less dominant learning styles and you could find something new in a completely different and enjoyable way.

Cultivate a Broad Range of Artistic Interests

Pablo Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”

Taking up a new hobby or rediscovering an old one (drawing, painting, photography, dancing, making something in response to music, gardening, etc.) can help you improve your focus, mood and memory. Artistic hobbies stimulate the brain to grow new ones by using the senses in new ways.

Learning something new requires you to stretch yourself physically, mentally or emotionally. Any hobby that involves a great deal of attention to detail can stave off cognitive decline and improve your memory.

Besides relieving stress and engaging the whole brain, hands-on artistic pursuits are a form of “neurobics,” says Dr. Lawrence Katz in his book, “Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness.”

Katz says art builds connections between the neurons and stimulates the brain to grow new ones by using the senses in new ways.

So, while physical exercise, games and meditation have a place in protecting your brain from cognitive decline, don’t neglect the benefits of artistic hobbies like drawing, painting, photography or learning to music an instrument.

Einstein was an accomplished amateur violinist.

His son, Hans Albert, once said, “whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music, and that would usually resolve all the difficulties.”

Becoming a Lifelong Learner Can Help You Maintain a Healthy Brain

A consistently stimulated brain may be the key to a vibrant life.

Life-long learning — the “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of new knowledge, can keep our brains working at optimum levels — which can limit cognitive and memory decline as we age.

When you learn something new, your brain isn’t only getting smarter – it’s getting stronger — new information strengthens the pathways between neurons in the brain.

Any time you give your brain new information, you’re helping to protect it against the natural deterioration that comes with aging.

Lifelong learning is the key to maintaining cognitive function,” says Rosebud Roberts in the Mayo Clinic’s study published in Neurology.

“It’s a ‘use it or lose it’ scenario. When you engage in cognitively stimulating activities you’re strengthening synaptic connections, but if you don’t use those circuits in your brain, the connections degenerate, she adds. Mentally stimulating learning in life makes a huge difference in your memory retention.

Life-long learning is a journey, not a destination — there’s never a shortage of new things to learn. Choose to learn skills, ideas and concepts you find interesting and the journey will be fun.

A hobby is not just a way to pass the time; it can also keep your brain engaged, boost your cognition and improve the quality of your life. Make time to pick up a few hobbies. Given what research tells us, they will keep your brain wonderfully healthy.

Inspiring Stories

The Pandemic Proves That Society Was Wrong About How to Live Life

Here’s what to do about it

Upon graduating from business school in 2005, I had two job offers to choose from. The first one was a market research position at a startup for around $75,000/year. The other was working for minimum wage at a real estate office in Costa Rica. A friend found out I had spent a semester abroad there learning Spanish and needed help. He offered me $1,000 per month plus free housing and a 4×4 if I agreed to move to the sleepy beach town of Nosara (population: <5,000).

What would you choose? Well, that depends. Am I speaking to your pre- or post-pandemic self? Today, you might say, “F-k it — what do I have to lose? I’m going to Costa Rica.” (Although, the border isn’t open…)

But what would a previous version of you have chosen — amid economic prosperity and growth? You would’ve been out of your mind to move to Costa Rica during the real estate/tech boom. That’s like flushing your MBA down the toilet. Besides, how the hell are you going to live on $12,000 per year and pay off your student loans?

Faced with this life-altering decision at 22 years old, I asked everyone I knew what they would do. There were two distinct sides:

  • Team 1: My classmates and anyone with less than 10–15 years of work experience told me to take the corporate job (duh) — because it was worth way more money. They also warned me I would ruin my resume if I moved abroad to live in a jungle.
  • Team 2: Anyone who was my parents’ age or older — successful professionals with beautiful families and white picket fence lives — didn’t tell me what to do. Instead, they responded wistfully with,

“I wish I lived in Costa Rica.”

It was settled. I decided to listen to my elders and move to Costa Rica — with conditions. I justified the decision by telling myself I would only go for one year to improve my Spanish. Then, I would return to the U.S. to start my “real life.”

Fifteen years later, suffice to say that things worked out. I’ve lived my entire adult life as an expat, living and working remotely across 62 countries. After retiring from real estate in 2011 to start my first online business, I became a full-time digital nomad and never looked back.

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Lunch break at a chateau in France with my friend and her daughters on a random Wednesday in 2017. Instagram

It’s been a pretty epic journey. I’ve never had a 9–5 job, never commuted to work (unless you count the ocean view real estate office), and have always cleared six-figures per year in income. Along the way, I’ve tried to convince my friends and family members to join me. I begged them to venture outside their comfort zones and abandon the status quo. Few people have dared to make that leap. But the pandemic has since obliterated our old societal paradigm and shattered what we thought we knew about life.

Despite the havoc and destruction that COVID-19 has caused, it has also cleared the way for a new normal. Humanity has a chance at a fresh start — yourself included. Let that sink in for a moment. Now is your chance to redefine how you view the world and live your life.

This is your chance to redefine how you view the world and live your life.

The coronavirus pandemic has made three truths painfully clear:

  • Life is short.
  • Nothing is guaranteed.
  • We are one interconnected human race on a shared planet.

As such, I’ve compiled a few outdated societal rules, norms, and assumptions worth abandoning from here on out. What will you replace them with? What else would you add to this list?

Lies society has told you about:

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Contemplating the meaning of life in Playa del Carmen circa 2014. Photo: Instagram

Your career:

  • You have to go to college to get a good job.
  • You should pick one major or one career path.
  • Freelancing or working for yourself is “risky” while working in a traditional job is “safe.”
  • One income stream is sufficient for financial stability.
  • Working in a job you hate is worth it if it pays well enough.
  • If you work hard now, you’ll earn a [bigger, better] payoff later.
  • Status-signaling is important.

Moving to Costa Rica to make $1,000/month is like flushing your MBA down the toilet.

How business works:

  • You need to have meetings.
  • Everyone should work Monday through Friday from 9am–5pm in their respective time zones.
  • If you can’t supervise your employees at work, they’re probably slacking off.
  • People are more productive in the office than at home. (Better yet? In an open-plan office for more collaboration.)
  • “Remote work doesn’t work for our company.”

Government & institutions:

  • The public school system adequately prepares you for adulthood.
  • Your national government is a reliable safety net for times of crisis and disaster. (That depends which country you’re from, I suppose.)
  • The purpose of law enforcement is to serve and protect.
  • Politicians work for the people, have everything under control, and know what they’re doing.
  • “Country-first,” isolationist policies are the best way to go.
  • America is the best country in the world.

Your health:

  • The modern-day healthcare system is invincible.
  • You can rely on medicines and vaccines rather than taking care of your immune system.
  • Managing a stressed-out, overweight population dependent on prescription drugs is normal, acceptable, and the best we can do as a society.
  • The U.S. has the best healthcare in the world.

The world:

  • Racism doesn’t exist anymore.
  • Everyone is on an equal playing field.
  • Change takes a long time.
  • People from different countries are “different” than you.
  • Walls and borders will protect you.
  • The U.S. is the leader of the free world.

How to live your life:

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Be an outlier. Croatia, 2017. Photo: Instagram
  • It pays to plan for the future more than you live today.
  • A better, brighter future is (implicitly) guaranteed if you put your head down, work hard, and follow the rules.
  • You should strive for financial security over health, happiness, and adventure.
  • External factors are both the source of and solution to your problems.
  • You need a lot of money to have a high quality of life.
  • Color in the lines and stay in your lane: blending in is better (and safer) than standing out.
  • You need to watch the news every day to be a responsible citizen.
  • The world’s problems are bigger than you and for someone else to solve. (So, you might as well not even try.)

Society was wrong. What next?

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Panama City, Panama, 2014. Photo: Instagram

“Rules? I’m just not that interested.”

— Electronic Music Producer and DJ, Mella Dee

Society marvels at people who achieve meteoric success by ignoring conventional wisdom. But what if Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Elon Musk weren’t supposed to be outliers? What if dropping out of college to build things in your garage was encouraged? What if zigging when everyone zags were the best way to live?

Did you know that there are music producers who don’t know anything about music theory? Or that you don’t have to go to film school to become a filmmaker? Or that you could make six-figures freelancing online from Bali?

What if the flouting the rules weren’t a recipe for disaster, but rather a road map for finding happiness and fulfillment in life?

I’m not saying you have to quit your job, sell everything, and move to a foreign country. But what could happen if you decided to start over right now? What if you wiped the slate clean about what you thought you knew and re-wrote “the rules” to your liking?

Why not? Nothing makes sense anymore. Disruption is the best time for innovation. This is your chance — there will never be another day like today. So turn off the news. Put down your phone. Follow your intuition and get to work.

And remember — no matter how dire things get (or feel), as long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late to start over.

Written by Kristin Wilson

Inspiring Stories

99% Of Successful Individuals Start Doing These 9 Things Early In Life

Nicolas Cole

People define success in a lot of different ways.

Some think it’s a certain amount of money. Others define it as a way of living, a level of freedom. The truth is, you can define success a hundred different ways — the only thing that matters is whether or not you’ve met the expectation you have for yourself.

If you ask most people what they want out of life, however, almost everyone will say, in some way, that they want to be “successful.” They want the big promotion, the fancy car, the house on the hill, the powerful network, the list goes on. Unfortunately, because “success” is a subjective aim, very few people have any sort of actionable plan or even idea as to how they’re going to achieve the success they want so badly. They believe, if they say or think about it enough, success will just “happen.”

Except it doesn’t work like that.

Here are the things you should start doing in your 20s to guarantee you’ll be successful — no matter what.

The sooner you get started, the better.

1. Start working on your emotional health, now.

Life only gets busier.

Too often, people say the phrase, “I will once I’m a bit further along.” But then they get a bit further along, and nothing changes. They just keep saying, “I’ll do it when I’m older. Later, when I have more time.”

But this is a dangerous cycle. Take 5 or 10 minutes, per day, and start practicing the habit of working on your emotional health now.

2. Spend time with people who aren’t in their 20s.

You don’t learn as much spending time around people who are exactly where you are.

You learn by surrounding yourself with people who are further along, who have been where you are and have moved to the next level. If you’re in your 20s, then you want to spend time with people in their late 30s, 40s, 50s and above. They’re the ones with the answers — not your friend who is 25 and still trying to figure things out for him or herself.

3. Save and invest as much money as you possibly can.

Investments benefit most from the variable of time.

The sooner you can get started saving and investing, the more dramatic your gains will be over the long term. Business Insider published a great piece on this about how much more money you’d have for retirement if you started saving when you were 25 as opposed to 35.

The difference is massive.

Second, financial freedom doesn’t come from buying new sneakers or mimosas during brunch. Financial freedom starts to happen when money becomes a tool for you to use to make more money. It has to work for you — not the other way around. And the sooner you start practicing that skill, the faster you’ll get to a place where you’re financially secure.

4. Get rid of friends who aren’t going anywhere in life.

This might sound harsh, but it’s true: you are a direct reflection of the people around you.

At a certain point, it’s important to realize where people are headed in life, and how much time you want to continue investing in those relationships. You don’t have to be mean about it, or stop talking to long-time friends entirely. But you also shouldn’t keep spending two nights per week getting beers with your buddy who is entirely comfortable in his cubicle job — if that’s not the sort of life you want for yourself.

Friendships are investments.

Invest wisely.

5. Keep reading (even though you’re out of school).

So many people stop reading in their 20s.

We live in the age of Netflix shows and podcasts, YouTube series’ and IGTV interviews. But the truth is, reading is a completely different experience. It slows you down. It forces you to think deeply. It’s also one of the only forms of knowledge transfer that allows us to receive insights from those who came decades, even centuries, before us.

The smartest people read — and you should too.

6. Find a workout regime that supplements your primary aim in life.

Success is almost always rooted in some form of physical exercise. Even the chess titan, Bobby Fischer, swore by his exercise routine to stay in shape and focused for upcoming matches.

When we’re young, we tend to only associate physical exercise with “sports.” But as we get older, physical exercise becomes one of the few ways we can maintain a relationship with ourselves — our gym time is our personal time; an early-morning run clears your head for the day.

Instead of only associating exercise with “getting fit,” think of it as a routine to make you better in all aspects of your life.

7. Don’t let your hobbies die.

We all have things we love to do purely for fun.

Unfortunately, they tend to fall to the wayside as life continues to take its course. Our hobbies become reprioritized. Our careers take over. Add in a family, kids, bills, vacations, etc., and next thing you know, it has been ten years since you picked up the guitar or wrote in your journal.

But our hobbies are what keep us grounded. They help us remember not to take life too seriously, and to always make time to enjoy the journey.

8. Find a mentor — and forgo short-term rewards for knowledge that will last a lifetime.

Everyone in their 20s is so obsessed with becoming successful as soon as possible.

And while this sort of hunger to succeed is great, it should never cause you to make short-sighted decisions. For example, what’s more valuable: pitching your services for $1,000 but being treated as a vendor? Or performing your service for free but getting to work directly with the person you want to learn from the most?

A lot of people would disagree with this sort of mentality, and yet it’s one of the greatest “success” shortcuts on the planet. The more you can give up short-term rewards, and invest in yourself, the slower things might be in the beginning but the higher your ceiling will ultimately become.

9. Nurture your relationship with your significant other.

I used to think you could only become successful (in your 20s) if you were 100% dedicated, obsessed with making progress, and, well, single.

There are a lot of entrepreneurs, especially, who live by this sort of mentality — and even the ones that do have relationships will regularly de-prioritize their partner. And even their partner will eventually say, “He always says he has to work, and there’s no time for me.”

But this is a flawed approach to both business and life.

I’ve come to learn (through my own relationship) that having someone to share the journey with, to emotionally support you along the way, isn’t going to hold you back. If anything, a life partner will make you better — which means it’s your responsibility to help nurture that relationship along the way.