SUCCEED || The Life Plan

Chapter- 5

SUCCEED


Opportunities multiply as they are sized.

By now you have established the foundations of your purpose and values, and what success means to you. You have also simplified key areas of your life, ready to stretch forward towards your vision and hopes for the future. You know where you are headed and what you want out of life. You have also developed a solid structure to manage your time, energy and effort to give you the freedom to bring your plans to life.


Of course, now you have all this figured out, everything will run smoothly. Well, not necessarily. For some of us there is a real risk in taking these first steps too seriously, a tendency towards perfectionism and becoming workaholics, driving ourselves into the ground. When we lose perspective and our plans start to run us, rather than the other way around, the life we want is always just out of reach.


To navigate our way through the natural lows and highs of life, we need tools to buoy our success, ways to maintain our energy, the right amount of stress, affirmations to keep us on track, a healthy dose of confidence and plenty of reasons to laugh. We also need opportunities to stretch ourselves forward with passion projects, travel plans and bucket lists. We need our own ‘recipes for success’ to guide us towards the lives we most want to live.

What’s in your success toolkit?

As you begin to make your purpose, vision and hopes a reality by consistently following through on your plans, you’ll find that even though you show up committed, confident and courageous, things won’t always pan out the way you want.


To maintain your energy and enthusiasm, regardless of how your day is unfolding, create your own success toolkit to help you keep going. Think of this as your equipment for looking after yourself as your journey unfolds.


There are lots of different ways to relax and nurture yourself, so you need to identify the things that work for you. Think beyond soaking in a scented bath or booking in for a facial – your mind needs to be supported just as much as your body. Working out what keeps you functioning at your best is called self-care, and it’s a vital part of your success toolkit.


Cheryl Richardson, author of The Art of Extreme Self-Care, sums it up perfectly: ‘Extreme self-care involves surrounding myself with people who are smart, self-aware and only interested in two-way relationships. It means taking bold steps, such as eliminating clutter from my life, for good; creating a soul-nourishing work and home environment, and keeping it that way; getting my financial act together so that I always have choices about how to live my life; and not making any commitments whatsoever out of guilt and obligation.’

SOME IDEAS FOR YOUR TOOLKIT

Things you may want to include are:

  •    Authenticity gut check
    Are you being YOU? Are you walking the talk and living your values?
  •    Gratitude moments
    Are you expressing gratitude for your supporters?
  •    Self-love makeover
    Are you looking in the mirror daily and connecting with who you are? Try smiling at your own reflection.
  •    Story audit
    Are the stories you’re telling yourself creating beliefs that pull you forward?
  •    Sleep bank
    Are you decompressing and refuelling at night? Remember, sleep is our best medicine.
  •    Acts of kindness
    Are you giving to others by performing kind acts? This can be one of the best ways to lower stress levels.
  •    What’s working well?
    Are you building on your strengths to get the results you want?
  •    Jolts of joy
    Have you genuinely laughed today?
  •    Grit goal
    Are you persisting with things that are a little challenging, and celebrating your efforts?
  • *There is no right or wrong answer by which you define success.

Be on your own ‘to do’ list

What are you doing for YOU today? This is where you start making sure you’re included on your own ‘to do’ list. To sustain your optimal level of wellbeing, you need to take responsibility for scheduling in self-care, and treat it as the most important job in the world. This does not mean booking a holiday or shopping trip, but rather a deep level of care. It is about honouring yourself and not succumbing to anxiety or guilt about looking after yourself.


Making pleasure a priority is critical for extreme self-care. Real pleasure is achieved by developing habits that make you feel happy and nurtured. These could include listening to the music you love on your commute to work, drinking your favourite tea each morning, buying flowers for your work desk, going out for dinner once a fortnight with friends, seeing a movie every month, taking a break from work in the middle of the day to get out into nature, booking a regular pedicure, visiting art galleries, organising regular walks with friends or curling up with a book on Sunday afternoons.


Your success toolkit is your immediate go-to when you are feeling a bit out of control, stressed and stuck. It is your personal back-up for when life throws a curve ball or you’re just worn out, and will help put you back in the driver’s seat again.


How do you maintain your energy?

It’s completely within your power to manage your energy levels so they work for you. The human body has basic needs for energy production and maintenance, and addressing them will help you function at your peak. Habits are the key, so ensure your energy toolkit becomes part of your weekly and daily habits, just like brushing your teeth.

ENERGY TOOLKIT

  •    Sleep: it is both recovery and preparation. Make sure you’re getting at least 7 hours a night. If you’re having trouble getting to sleep, avoid looking at a backlit portable screen (laptop, smartphone, tablet) for at least an hour before bed. Also, keep your bedroom for the sole purpose of sleep (no screens allowed!).
  •    Water: hydrate throughout the day.
  •    Eating habits: 70 per cent of the way you feel is due to what you are eating.
  •    Stretch: extend your muscles each day.
  •    Move: get the blood flowing. Many people are starting to use standing desks, as sitting too much is now understood to be dangerous to our health. Standing and moving around regularly also helps you feel more alert.
  •    Mini-pauses: take 5-minute breaks throughout the day.
  •    Attitude: having a positive attitude gives you energy, while being negative drains you.
  •    Silence: grab it and cherish it.

TRY A 2-MINUTE MEDITATION

A growing body of research suggests we would all benefit from daily meditation. So how do we integrate it into our lives in a way that’s achievable and still gives us the benefits we need?


I meditate in the morning and the evening, and have a collection of guided meditations that suit a range of needs for my mind and body. Outside this regular practice, I often sit in silence in the car for a few minutes before the school pick-up or when I’m in a queue or traffic jam. It’s a small change, but it has had one of the biggest impacts on my physical health and my mindset.


Not sure you can pull it off? Try just 2 minutes a day. This is much easier and more sustainable than thinking you have to commit to a daily half-hour practice, and you are much more likely to keep at it. You don’t need to rush out and buy a meditation cushion, join a class or even try to sit still for 15 minutes – not yet. Just start by being still for 2 minutes each day and noticing your breath. Breathe in and out through your nose, counting slowly to four for the intake and then four for the release. Controlled, calm breathing like this helps us relax, focus and let go of any stress we may be feeling. It also helps connect our minds to our bodies, which puts us back in the moment and is a powerful tool for mindfulness.

Do you have the right amount of stress?

Do you ever feel stressed out? The good news is that a little bit of stress isn’t bad for us. It’s our body’s way of focusing our attention and energy on a particular problem or opportunity, and harnessing all our resources to solve it or move us forward.


But when stress accumulates, hour after hour, day after day, week after week, it starts to wreak havoc on our bodies, our minds and our relationships. We simply aren’t built to handle large amounts of the hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, that stress generates. When stress overwhelms us or lingers for too long, it can leave us unable to make decisions, harm our ability to learn, damage our health and cause us to pull away from others.

60-SECOND STRESS BUSTERS

Here are some fast, tried and tested ways to reset your stress levels. Spend the time:

  •    Breathing deeply and slowly.
  •    Stretching.
  •    Drawing a picture.
  •    Sipping a glass of water.
  •    Walking.
  •    Counting with your eyes closed.
  •    Thinking about the bigger picture to gain perspective.
  •    Laughing.
  •    Sharing the problem with someone who is a good listener.


What are you affirming?

Your mindset has everything to do with success. Your personal beliefs determine the way you feel and act, and ultimately dictate where you’ll put your energy. They shape your vision and hopes, and affirm what you think is possible when it comes to the kind of success you want to enjoy. If you say you can, you might pull it off. If you say you can’t, you’ll never get started.


The word ‘affirmation’ comes from the Latin affirmare, originally meaning ‘to make steady, strengthen’. When we put into words what we want to be or what we want to happen, we are empowering ourselves and reassuring our minds about the possibilities. Affirmations help break the patterns of negative thoughts and move us towards more positive feelings and actions.


Psychologist Dr Carmen Harra has some excellent affirmations to get you started:

  •    I am the architect of my life; I build its foundation and choose its contents.
  •    Today, I am brimming with energy and overflowing with joy.
  •    My body is healthy; my mind is brilliant; my soul is tranquil.
  •    I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.
  •    I have been given endless talents which I will begin to utilise today.
  •    I forgive those who have harmed me in my past and peacefully detach from them.
  •    A river of compassion washes away my anger and replaces it with love.
  •    (If you’re married) My marriage is becoming stronger, deeper and more stable each day.
  •    I possess the qualities needed to be extremely successful.
  •    Happiness is a choice. I base my happiness on my own accomplishments and the blessings I’ve been given.
  •    My ability to conquer my challenges is limitless; my potential to succeed is infinite.
  •    (For those who are unemployed) I deserve to be employed and paid well for my time, efforts and ideas. Each day, I am closer to finding the perfect job for me.
  •    I am courageous and I stand up for myself.
  •    My thoughts are filled with positivity and my life is plentiful with prosperity.
  •    Today, I abandon my old habits and take up new, more positive ones.
  •    Many people look up to me and recognise my worth; I am admired.
  •    I am blessed with an incredible family and wonderful friends.
  •    I acknowledge my own self-worth; my confidence is soaring.
  •    Everything that is happening now is happening for my ultimate good.
  •    Today, I will let myself shine.

How can you maintain confidence?

How confident do you feel about your ability to create the life you want to be living? Researchers have found that believing we can improve our abilities is actually more important than believing in our abilities themselves. Confidence comes from believing that with the courage to learn, the willingness to make an effort and the persistence to keep practising, we’re each born with the capacity to make continuous improvements in our lives.


When we have confidence in our ability to grow we fear failure less, we’re not as attached to outcomes and negative feedback doesn’t undo us. Think of Thomas Edison, who persisted through a thousand failed attempts at inventing the lightbulb before he succeeded; now that’s confidence! You can build your confidence by:

  •    Using your strengths regularly
    These are the things you do well and enjoy. Visit the VIA Institute on Character’s website (www.viame.org) for a great tool to help you identify your strengths.
  •    Surrounding yourself with people who love learning
    People who are on their own path of growth will be happy to share the journey.
  •    Celebrating efforts, not just results
    Don’t focus solely on outcomes; acknowledge the efforts you’re making along the way.
  •    Sharing your growth
    Tell your dream team the small wins and the big results.
  •    Focusing on what’s within your control
    Know you’ve made your best effort and let the rest go.

As an achievement junkie with a tendency towards perfectionism, one of the most effective (and totally unexpected) ways I’ve found to boost my confidence is to embrace my vulnerability. This means accepting who I am and leaving behind who I think I should be. It allows me to be imperfect and to be okay with this part of my journey, and it significantly increases the depth of my happiness, contentment and confidence. I might not be the best speaker, have the best book or cook the best meal for my family, but I’m here, I’m showing up, I’m willing to learn and I’m willing to accept that makes me good enough.


Author, researcher and scholar Brené Brown has spent a decade studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness and shame. She suggests vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change, and that it is our most accurate measurement of courage. It is the gateway to intimacy with ourselves and others. It is about having the confidence to be honest about our fears, how we’re feeling and what we need, and to be willing to share this with others.


Setting boundaries is a great example. It’s something that people don’t think about as requiring vulnerability, but saying ‘no’ and protecting our time – whether it’s family time, creative time or our self-care time – is a huge act of confidence in a culture that values productivity so highly.

BEING VULNERABLE

  •    Celebrate your imperfections.
  •    Recognise others who are being vulnerable and authentic.
  •    Be fully aware of how you feel in the moment.
  •    Own your emotions.
  •    Reveal something.
  • *My mind is in charge of my confidence.

Do you have enough reasons to laugh?

When did you last have a really good laugh? You know, one of those outbursts that literally shakes your whole body. When you can hardly breathe and your sides are hurting afterwards. If you can’t remember the last time you really laughed, it’s a clear sign you need to make room for a little more humour and playfulness in your life. Humour balances the seriousness of life, and it’s what helps you endure challenges.


While it’s great to celebrate achievements and accomplishments, it’s just as important to enjoy the journey – and this is where laughter plays a huge role. It may not be a cure-all, but laughter is good for you on many levels.

  •    Laughter relaxes your whole body
    A good, hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress, relaxing your muscles for up to 45 minutes afterwards.
  •    Laughter triggers the release of endorphins
    The body’s natural feel-good chemicals, endorphins promote an overall sense of wellbeing.
  •    Laughter boosts the immune system
    It decreases stress hormones and increases your body’s production of white blood cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.
  •    Laughter protects the heart
    Laughter improves the function of blood vessels and increases blood flow, which can help protect against heart attack and other cardiovascular problems.

WAYS TO LAUGH MORE

You can find more reasons to laugh by:

  •    Smiling
    This is where laughter begins, so find reasons to smile and let it take over your body.
  •    Spending time with fun, playful people
    Seek out family and friends who make you laugh.
  •    Moving towards laughter
    When you hear people laughing, join them; laughter is highly contagious.
  •    Joining a laughter club
    These are groups that get together for the express purpose of laughing.
  •    Watching comedy
    This can be in any form you like – a YouTube clip, live act, television show or movie.
  •    Reading funny books or comics
    Start each day with a funny quote or cartoon.

What or who makes you laugh? Invest some recovery time in these activities and people.


  • *The most important friendship you can have is with yourself.

What are your passion projects?

Is there something you do just for the love of it? Not necessarily to make money. Not necessarily for fame and accolades. But just because it indulges your deep desire to create. To bring your ideas to life, in whatever form they may take.


It could be a hobby, such as painting, gardening or playing an instrument. It could be a community project, such as coaching your kids’ sports team, organising the annual street party or providing companionship at the local seniors’ centre.


Passion projects and hobbies are vital for fostering growth and development. They ensure we don’t end up regretting the things we wish we’d done, and they offer stress relief, lower your stress hormones, stave off burnout, provide pleasure and gratification, and keep life full of colour and vitality.

CHOOSE YOUR PASSIONS

Here are some examples to get you going, remembering that whatever you want to do, it needs to be built into your habit map or diaries to ensure you find the time to make it happen:

  •    Photography
  •    Gardening
  •    Reading
  •    Writing
  •    Cooking
  •    Movies
  •    Golf
  •    Swimming
  •    Playing an instrument
  •    Singing
  •    Sports
  •    Yoga
  •    Drawing and painting
  •    Dancing
  •    Knitting

What is your passion project? What can you see yourself doing for a long time so that you become passionate about it?

Do you travel with purpose?

Where do you long to visit? What amazing things would you like to do when you get there? Whenever you travel with purpose, more world abundance opens up to you, more relationships are created and, most importantly, you can incorporate some of your bucket list and hobbies into your trip.


Holidays can be incredible experiences when you travel to learn, meet new people and grow as a person. Trips with an intention, such as photography tours, art adventures, cooking classes and golf holidays, can be particularly rewarding, as can trips where you are giving back, such as going overseas to do volunteer work. These are some of the memories you savour in life, because you come home feeling inspired.


Get online and start a detailed investigation of the places you would like to visit. Look beyond the main tourist sites to find opportunities to get off the beaten track and put yourself in areas where you’ll be more likely to meet the locals and experience their way of life. It’s hard to truly understand a different culture when you’re viewing it through the windows of a car or bus. Here are some questions to ask yourself when you’re researching your next trip:

  •    What is my intention for this adventure?
  •    What could I learn as I go?
  •    How could I immerse myself in this culture?
  •    What opportunities does this offer me?
  •    What would make this trip memorable?

Have you become too comfortable?

If your life is starting to feel a little dull and boring, it’s a sure sign your comfort zone needs stretching. When we take on new opportunities or challenges there’s a natural learning curve that comes with mastering new ways of thinking, feeling and being. Over time, we get better at putting the pieces together to get the results we want, adapting to this new way of life and settling into a comfortable groove. This feeling of comfort is a place of peace and relief, but if we remain comfortable and unchallenged for too long we stagnate and become bored.


For me, travelling overseas on my own, taking on jobs I thought were too hard, and continually looking for ways to stretch myself have led to personal growth, increased life satisfaction and happiness. Things can go wrong, but having resilience, perspective and a good foundation of values to fall back on makes this process exciting.


Margie Warrell, a courage coach, asks these questions:

  •    Do I keep doing what’s always been done or challenge old assumptions and try new approaches to problems?
  •    Do I proactively seek new challenges or just manage those I already have?
  •    Do I risk being exposed and vulnerable, or act to protect my pride and patch of power?
  •    Do I ask for what I really want or just for what I think others want to give me?
  •    Do I ‘toot my horn’ to ensure others know what I’m capable of or just hope my efforts will be noticed?
  •    Do I speak my mind or bite my lip, lest I ruffle feathers or subject myself to criticism?

Too often we let our mistakes and setbacks define us. But it’s really our attitude towards failure that determines whether it’s going to be an experience from which we can learn and grow, or one that stops us in our tracks. Each year, I set a monthly challenge that’s a little out of my comfort zone so that I can foster my continual growth.

TEST YOUR COMFORT ZONE

  •    Commit
    Get out of your comfort zone as often as possible. If you don’t challenge yourself and make yourself a little uncomfortable, you won’t grow, evolve and flourish as a human being.
  •    When you’re ripe, you rot
    Make sure you’re always a little bit ‘green’, as it means you’re still trying new things and have the capacity to learn. And realise that there’s always room for improvement.
  •    Crawl, walk, run
    Don’t force yourself to leap into the deep end immediately. Break down bigger goals into smaller chunks, and slowly take on more daring challenges.
  •    Be curious
    Throw away your assumptions about what will happen and get curious instead.
  •    Mix it up
    Experiment with activities you wouldn’t normally do. Numbers geek? Try a course in meditation. IT guru? Enrol in cooking classes. Creative thinker? Sign up for martial arts. Open up new sides of yourself and explore them!
  • *Invite the adventure of the new day ahead and look forward to the experiences it brings.

What is on your bucket list?

What do you want to do before you die? Put simply, a bucket list is a list of things you really want to do before you die – a play on the phrase ‘kick the bucket’.


What do your boldest dreams entail? These might be big dreams, such as travelling the world. They might be smaller ambitions, such as playing the guitar publicly. Whatever the size, you have to work towards them just as you work towards your goals, which is why it’s important to write them down. By creating a bucket list, you turn your dreams into attainable, tangible goals that are within your reach.


Your bucket list is there to inspire, to represent your values, to put fire in your belly and to excite your brain. Whenever I read something that inspires and appeals to me, I write it on my bucket list so I always feel that I am moving forward. One of the ways I like to do this is by creating a twenty-year plan. It sounds daunting, but it is the simplest thing to do as it creates perspective instantly.


Think about it for a moment. Where will you be in twenty years’ time? For example, if you’re forty years old right now, where will you be when you’re sixty? When an age is attached to the question, a vague picture of what your life might be like emerges because it gives an age to the people around you – your partner, your children, your parents and your friends. Suddenly, you can see what ‘stage’ of life you’ll be at in twenty years’ time, and that helps you start to picture what you want your life to look like at that point.

TIPS TO CREATE YOUR TWENTY-YEAR PLAN

  •    Start with a blank piece of paper or spreadsheet.
  •    Create four columns: Year, Career, Home and Family.
  •    Write in things you’re fairly sure of: your age in twenty years’ time, plus your partner’s and kids’ ages, your stage of life, your health and your career. Once this solid, knowable information is plugged in, it makes it easier to open your mind up to dream big.
  •    List every holiday you dream of taking and every hobby you want to develop. Look at your twenty-year plan and work out where your milestone birthdays and anniversaries will fall. Start thinking about the celebrations you’d like to create, and dates when you may be able to match up your dream holiday destinations with major milestones.
  •    Add other things from your bucket list and when you’d like to make them happen.
  •    Think about education – are there courses or further study you or your partner would like to undertake? If you have children, think about where you would like them to attend school, both primary and secondary.
  •    Consider your living arrangements, too. Are you already in your dream home or would you like to renovate or move house? Are you happy with where you live or do you hope to move to another area further down the track? Will you need to upsize or downsize at some point?


WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS?

Everyone has their own definition of success, and these can vary considerably. Rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all definition, it’s important to devise your own recipe for success to guide you through life. It needs to be something you’ll see often, so that it becomes a part of who you are and can influence your decisions on a daily basis. I recommend programming it into your weekly plan. When I ask my clients to create their recipe for success, I suggest they use the word SUCCESS as an acronym:

  •    S: Sort out your values.
  •    U: Understand your beliefs and behaviours.
  •    C: Choose your vision for yourself.
  •    C: Construct hopes to support your vision and brand.
  •    E: Evaluate and acknowledge each step of your journey and progress.
  •    S: Simplify and structure your processes.
  •    S: Smile and enjoy your ideal setup for optimal living and success.
  • *Success means freedom of choice in my daily life.
  • *Success means living a purposeful life.

SUMMARY

Taking the time to develop a higher level of self-awareness around these different success factors has made decisions in my life so much easier, and my health and wellbeing so much stronger. I’ve achieved more within my career because of the foundations I have built. When I lost my health to chronic fatigue syndrome I determined I would never go back there, so my success recipe and toolkit are essentials, ensuring I’m taking care of myself while living the life I choose.


As your plans begin to pay off and you begin to tick off your successes, you need to have the tools to maintain the life you’re creating. Drawing on your success toolkit, maintaining your energy, ensuring you have the right amount of stress, plenty of reasons to laugh, affirmations to move you forward and enough confidence to keep pulling it all off will help you navigate the inevitable highs and lows we all experience. Along the way, keep stretching beyond your comfort zone by making time for your passion projects, creating your twenty-year bucket list and staying true to your own recipe for success.

TIPS AND TRICKS

  •    Embed your energy toolkit into your weekly habits and daily actions – make time for self-care.
  •    Collect and store the affirmations that work for you.
  •    Start a gratitude jar, journal or photo book.
  •    Try to meditate for 2 minutes each day.
  •    In the shower, check on your breathing. Before you go to sleep, make sure you are breathing correctly.
  •    Make your passwords something you want to be or are aiming for so that you are typing a daily affirmation when you enter them.
  •    Start a bucket list book, or twenty-year plan.
  •    Write on your bathroom mirror whatever you need in order to maintain confidence for the day or week.
  •    Practise being vulnerable with others about how you’re feeling and asking for what you need.
  •    Stress busters can be booked in. My phone is constantly reminding me to breathe.
  •    Schedule time for your hobbies.
  •    When trying new things, have the ‘courage to be uncomfortable’.
  •    Book a trip with purpose and intention.
  •    Prepare food for tomorrow and fill your water bottle each weeknight.
  •    Create your ‘to do’ list for the next day the night before.
  •    Make a rule of no phones when eating.
Plants the seeds for success and nurture them, and you will be rewarded with a life that blooms.







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