What does the little voice inside your head tell you about your future? Many times, it will not be just one voice, it will be an entire choir of voices. The key to success is knowing that you are able to conduct the choir. It is you that is in control of the voices, and not the voices that are in control of you. If you treat the concept of success (as defined by you) as inevitable, success will be achieved by you. Become conscious of the inner voice and aware that it is constantly chattering. What is being said is of paramount importance, make sure is it positive, uplifting and constructive. The conversations you have with yourself should be encouraging you, as if success was inevitable. Here are 7 guidelines for proceeding:
Stop looking back - The past is just that, the past. Nothing you do will change what you have already done, so there is no sense in second guessing or worrying about how your got on the path you are on right now. You chose the path and it has gotten you exactly where you are today. Delight in the knowledge you are here and have learned valuable lessons because of the choices you have made. If you have a tendency to look over your shoulder (figuratively, of course), you can lose focus on all of the amazingness that is in front of you. Continue your amazing journey. It is uniquely yours. Your future depends on the decisions you make moving forward, not the regrets from your past. Let yesterday's lessons make for successful planning for your future.
Focus your attention on what lies ahead - Have you ever tried riding a bicycle backward? It's a very challenging task. Not only is it difficult, but it looks and feels so unnatural. When focusing forward, however, with your head up, it is much easier to keep your balance and to keep an eye on your goals. The year ahead will be incredible if you believe it will be incredible. It will require you to make an effort and not only set goals, but put in place, actionable steps to help you reach your goals. Allow yourself some space to make things happen. While looking forward is essential for success, even with blinders on it is important to stop every once in a while to check your progress, evaluate your goals and make adjustments.
When you come to the fork in the road, give weighted consideration to the road less traveled - The road less traveled is traveled less for a reason and far more satisfying than moving along with the masses. Make your life an adventure, filled with excitement. More adventure and excitement does not necessarily equate to more risk. But even if it did come with elevated risk, would you be willing to risk stepping outside your comfort zone to achieve some amazing results? Taking the road less traveled will result in uncommon rewards.
Stop listening to those who have not traveled your journey - It is easy to be critical when you are directing from an armchair. Most of your critics will be armchair critics who have never endured what you have experienced. Those critics have not been in your shoes nor are they on your path. Instead of listening to their opinions, listen to the words of those that have traveled your journey. As human beings, by nature, we have a tendency to want to please others. Hold yourself accountable only to you and do not let their recordings play in your head. Life is not a popularity contest and there will be as many opinions as there are decisions to make. Do what is best for you and keep in mind that the best response to the sour thinkers is your success. Success is so sweet.
Do not run from change, embrace it - The only constant in life is change. Once you begin to accept change in your life, stress, anxiety and pressure will be greatly reduced. Accepting change does not mean you need to accept everything that comes along, but you should learn to live life with a greater feeling of flexibility, an understanding the nothing is permanent, and an openness to opportunity when it is presented to you. Although your habits and routines will be tested as you begin the process of changing, it is okay, since the results will be personal growth, professional improvement and and a bigger vision for your future.
Live life with passion - Anything worth doing, is worth doing with passion. When you wake with passion, you work with passion. Over the course of my career, especially early on, I spent too much time focused on the financial rewards of working hard. For most of that time, I was working to make a living, not a life. I was able to buy stuff as a result, thinking it would make me happy. The more stuff I obtained, the more stuff I wanted and it soon became an endless cycle of desire, greed and unsatisfying results. I was clearly not happy. Once I started to understand the role passion plays in determining success, it became clear to me success was more about finding my passion and not filling a bank account, filling a garage or filling a closet. As my passion evolved, goals and dreams became clearer and I became more financially successful as a result. Start with passion and do what you love. Stick with it and you will be very happy with the results as well.
Don't be so hard on yourself - As you begin to set goals, develop a plan of action, and to work your plan, give yourself some slack. Happiness, positivity and a good attitude can be quickly sabotaged when you are too hard on yourself. Give everything you do your best effort and know that if you fall short of your goals, you simply need to reset your goals and go after them again. You are the only critic you need to answer to, so the six inches between your ears should be protected and precious space. You will get far more from yourself if you are encouraging, accepting and loving and less critical of every move you make.
This past year, 2015 has been a great one for me, but also very bittersweet. Professionally, my book, Nice Guys Finish First launched in February and by the end of March hit #1 on Amazon's charts. It continues to do very well and has been a dream come true for me. My Nice Guy community (blog readers and podcast listeners) continues to grow and I am proud to say that 2015 has brought 2,500 weekly readers to my website, a new crop of readers through my Huffington Post channel, over 20,000 Twitter followers, 5,000 LinkedIn connections and well over 20,000 downloads to my Nice Guys on Business podcast (thanks to my partner Strickland Bonner). Those of you that know me personally, know my dreams came true when, in August, I married my best friend and the world's most beautiful woman Danielle. This past year my daughter Rachel graduated from James Madison University and I look forward to seeing her dreams come true as she continues her music studies. My son Adam (yes that's right, Adam Sandler) continues his studies in graphic design as college sophomore. Sadly, 2015 marks the year I lost my step-father of 43 years, Marty Finstein. Marty was the man of steel with the tin box. I am blessed to have my mother in my life and we miss him very much. I am grateful to have so much love in my life and know that 2016 will continue to put me on a direct path towards success. I welcome you to join me on this path. It is open to Nice Guys everywhere. By now, you have to realize nice guys finish first.