What does it take to be successful in life? There's no simple answer, but history has shown that there are practices that can maximize your chances of a productive, happy life.
Quora users discussed some lessons they've learned along the way in the thread, "What are the top 10 things we should be informed about in life?" Users had many more than 10 tips to offer, and we've collected and paraphrased some of the best advice, arranged by contributor below.
Justin Freeman, who works for Missouri State University's public safety division and is a former pastor and cop, advises:
1. Realize that people don't care as much as you think they might.
Most people won't notice that you bought a new car or got a promotion, and you shouldn't be basing your happiness on their judgments anyway. On the flip side, if they're showering you with attention, don't let it go to your head.
2. The people who truly care about you aren't interested in your accomplishments and possessions; they're interested in you.
It's called love, and you'll know when someone congratulating you on your new job is jealous or truly happy for you. When you find people who love you, do everything you can to hold onto them, because they'll be your foundation.
3. Arranging your life around money won't make you happy.
Focus on your passion, not your paycheck. Freeman says he knew a man who spent his career amassing six figures in savings, but died of cancer before he could even touch it.
4. Debt is not a necessary burden of adulthood.
If you're making an investment in your career by going to school, then your student debt is something you'll need to manage. But just because it's become normative, do not consider debt a rite of passage into adulthood. It can present a dangerous imbalance of your finances.
5. Rhetoric is powerful.
Figure out what elicits certain responses from people, and you'll be better able to influence others. "When you know how to speak in order to change someone's mind, to instill confidence in someone, to quiet the fears of a child, then you will know this power firsthand," writes Freeman.
6. You have a responsibility to everyone, and a responsibility for only yourself.
Freeman thinks that by merely existing we have a responsibility to recognize the humanity in everyone and offer help to those in need. Ultimately, however, you have control over only yourself, and it's on to you to find success and happiness.
7. Prepare for the unexpected.
Do all that you can to understand the way things work, whether it be how your company functions or how your government is operating. But understand that no amount of knowledge can prepare you for chaos that will inevitably hit you throughout your life. Always have a Plan B.
8. You can't let others define you.
While humans are built to be part of communities, don't let other people or ideologies tell you who you are.
9. You must always go beyond what is required.
To become successful, outperform the other guy. And when you're at the top, compete with yourself.
Christopher Graves, the global CEO of Ogilvy PR, says:
10. Self-awareness is endlessly valuable.
If you can see yourself the way others see you, you will be able to work with and get along with others more easily.
11. Biases affect everything you do.
Your worldview works its way into every decision you make. If you know your biases, you can minimize acting selfishly and do what is right for the situation.
12. Living in the present will keep you focused.
Accept that the past can't be changed, and make the most of what's in front of you.
13. People who are very different from you can enrich your life.
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can limit your creativity, but if you seek out new perspectives, you grow faster and learn more.
14. Travel. Travel more.
Not only will being exposed to other ways of living give you a new perspective on life, it will take your brain off autopilot and allow you to return to work refreshed.
Mike Leary, a psychotherapist, says:
15. It's important to keep taking risks until you find your passion.
If you haven't found a job that makes you happy, don't settle.
16. You must take care of your health.
You can't focus on your career if you're continually set back by indulging your vices or ignoring health problems.
17. Your reputation must be protected.
Guard your reputation with all that you have. Make habits of being honest, reliable, and kind, and others will notice.
18. Emotions should not guide decision-making.
A knee-jerk reaction influenced by anger or panic can destroy a lifetime of work in one moment. Wait until you are calm before making a big decision.
19. Forgive others and yourself.
Strangers and loved ones alike will hurt and disappoint you. React accordingly, but do not hold grudges. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to fuel hatred.
20. Seek a greater purpose.
You live in a world much bigger than yourself. Figure out how you'd like to give back.
An anonymous poster writes:
21. Life is short.
Use a sense of urgency to make the most of your time.
22. There's a lot you don't know.
If there's a task you can delegate to someone better suited for it, then do it. If there's a discussion about something you're not sufficiently knowledgeable about, resist the urge to jump in.
23. You need to be honest with yourself.
If you're going to grow as a person, it's important to see unpleasant things for what they are.
Jay Bazzinotti, a writer, says:
24. Happiness is a choice.
Your attitude is a decision. Choosing to be happy and optimistic, regardless of the situation, yields more success than negativity.
25. Confidence will take you places.
When you believe in yourself, others tend to believe what you have to say.
26. Everyone is afraid.
Realize that everyone is afraid of failing. The successful ones know how to accept their fears and keep anxiety from restraining them.
27. Everyone hurts.
That's why it's important to be kind to everyone. Even a small gesture of kindness can have a big impact.
28. Nothing is perfect.
Unlike in the movies, the good guys don't always win. Appreciate what you have, and you'll be stronger and happier because of it.
Gloria Garcia adds:
29. You can learn from the countless successes before you.
It's good to have heroes. Borrow liberally from their advice, and you will find what works for you.
And Quinn KT thinks:
30. Luck is the most elusive aspect of success.
It can be easy to give up when you're talented and work hard but aren't getting a break. Remember that you find good fortune by constantly moving forward.
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