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8 Things to Do Instead of Going to College (or After You’ve Already Gone)

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You can listen to my advice on the Addicted2Success Podcast below (just hit play!)

 

This article is Adapted from Chapter 2 of my new book:

Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start An Epic Business, Score The Life You Want.

If I had to do it all over again, I would skip the university route and, instead, spend 3-4 years working on a kickass, meaningful project that actually made an impact on the world.

I have nothing against college. In fact, I recommend you go if you want to do something specialized like becoming a doctor or lawyer or paleontologist. But if you’re reading this, chances are you don’t want to become any of those things.

In my opinion, every aspiring entrepreneur needs their first “Big Project.” I write about this extensively in my debut book, Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start An Epic Business, Score The Life You Want. The project should not necessarily be a job. It’s best if the project is something that you choose, you design and you fund.

By deeply involving yourself in things that you really care about, you’ll start gaining real, experiential knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that you can’t get in a classroom and is the sort of “raw material” that you can turn into an asset (a skill or product) that can eventually be sold.  

To be clear, I’m not “anti-college.” I’m “pro-options.”

Many of us aren’t even aware that there is another way to find work that you love other than browsing through a catalog of majors and sitting in a lecture hall. Even if you read this and still choose to go to college (or you’ve already gone), you should be actively looking to improve your life and intentionally develop yourself by undertaking challenging experiences that you’re deeply interested in.

 

Here are a few life-changing projects to try instead of college:

1. Travel the world Traveling will give you an entirely new perspective and exposure to new cultures always gives you something interesting to talk about with other people. Visit places you’ve only read about, eat food you don’t recognize and make friends with people you otherwise wouldn’t have  met. It’s good for you.

2. Start a business — The #1 thing starting a business will teach you is that failure is inevitable, and once you can get over that, you’ll have a much better chance at succeeding the next time. This is old school character building. Starting a business is also a great way to learn how to negotiate when people don’t like you, and convince other people to help you. Ready to get started but don’t know how? Here are 25 business ideas that any aspiring entrepreneur will absolutely love.

3. Volunteer extensively — Find a cause that you really care about it and give back in the biggest way possible. But don’t just dabble….treat it like a job. Give everything you have. Be a good human for no reason. It feels great — but you also learn a lot about yourself, the world beyond America, and others.

4. Become fluent in a new language — No, not with the same enthusiasm of high school Spanish — REALLY learn one. Work on becoming fluent, start to enjoy pieces of the culture that are typically reserved for native speakers (telenovelas, anyone?) then take an extended vacation to a country that speaks that language.

5. Create art —  Painting, music, dance, sculpture; find something that really speaks to you and do it every single day — create something beautiful that you’re proud of. Commit yourself to mastering the craft. Apprentice with someone you consider a “master.” Immerse yourself in it. Then share it.

6. Compete in a sport — Learn a martial art. Start bowling competitively or learn chess. Hell, start a running club in your neighborhood. Do something physical with your time and force yourself to get better and better. Track your progress. Compete in tournaments. This is also a great way to get in better shape without trying. I can personally vouch for bodybuilding and jiu jitsu. They changed my life.

7. Become an expert at something that fascinates you — Like quantum physics? Devote the entire year to learning everything you can about string theory and become well versed in space-time. Create your own research studies and get them published in a journal. “Regular” people don’t do this. Be exceptional. Push your own intellectual boundaries and try to learn difficult concepts that scare you.

8. Write a book — Take my advice. Writing my debut book, Rich20Something, absolutely changed my life. There’s a good chance you won’t know what the hell you were talking about when you read your work again 20 years from now — but the main benefits of writing are meditation, reflection and habit building. You’re learning to control your thoughts and dedicate a set amount of time to something every day.

 

This Big Project will do incredible things for your life:

  • It will show you that you’re capable of coming up with an idea and seeing it through to the end.
  • It will allow you to create in a relatively low-stakes environment. You can’t really “lose” if the project doesn’t go well. (Another reason why it’s best not to consider your job a project.)
  • It will teach you to creatively find resources that you need in order to complete the project. Especially because you probably don’t have a lot of money yet.
  • It will help you to see your true path and connect you with others who are also looking for their path, which is similar to yours. (The first stage of networking.)  

 

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve probably already finished college. Or you’re in college right now. That’s totally OK! You don’t have to drop out of school tomorrow or tear up your diploma in a fit of rage. It’d be funny to watch…but seriously, you don’t have to.

That said…no matter where you are right now, you MUST start the process of rethinking what it means to do your “life’s work” — which is a term too few of us use to describe our journey these days. What do you want the impact of your life to be? What type of uniquely meaningful work can you contribute to the world to leave it a little better than when you found it?

Whichever route you choose, you MUST start the process of rethinking what it means to do your “life’s work”—a term too few of us use to describe our journey these days. What do you want the impact of your life to be? What type of uniquely meaningful work can you contribute to the world to leave it a little better than when you found it?

Figuring out the answers to these questions is your first step toward becoming a Rich20Something.

*******

If starting a business is part of your life’s work, then you’re going to love my new book Rich20Something: Ditch Your Average Job, Start An Epic Business, Score The Life You Want.

When I first started my journey into entrepreneurship five years ago, this is the book I wanted to read. Turns out I was destined to write it instead.

I have to tell you guys … it’s taken me an incredible amount of effort to get this work into the world. From the very seedling of an idea three years ago, through the grueling process of pitching agents and publishers, to the actual writing process. I truly left everything on the page with this one—and I’m hoping you’ll benefit from it.

The great thing about this book is that I’ve distilled all the critical parts of figuring out what you want to do with your life, developing your business and leaving the 9-to-5 forever.

(Including the process of scaling your money from 5 to 6 to 7 figures.)

A small sampling of the topics covered in the book:

  • Why most people can never think of a profitable business idea, and how to become an idea machine
  • How to completely destroy your fear of failure and pounce on the most important opportunities
  • Hustling 101: How to make your first $100,000 on the side
  • Why you should never network again, and how to befriend powerful influencers who will gladly help you
  • From freelancer to entrepreneur: How to create an online business that prints money while you sleep
  • How to eliminate distractions, get laser focused, and crush your goals
  • The mental tools and daily strategies I use to consistently create world-class work

In total, the book has more than 300 pages of detailed strategies, crazy anecdotes and larger-than-life personalities—including case studies from over a dozen wildly successful entrepreneurs who will tell you exactly how they did it.

Grab it here. Consume it. Start your dream business. Live an incredible life.

 

Image Courtesy of Twenty20.com

Daniel DiPiazza is the Founder of Rich20Something, where he writes about starting a business you care about, living a happier life, and occasionally, bacon. If you liked this article, be sure to join the Tribe by signing up for his free newsletter.

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  1. Nicah Carammba

    May 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hey, Daniel! Great article! I needed to read something like this after facing a possibility of a delay in my college graduation because I’ve decided to take an internship abroad for a semester. I will be leaving in a few months for that internship, and it really was a challenge to score a placement in that company so I chose that route. I decided that it’s much better to gain experience outside of the four walls of my college classroom. Now I’m not so worried about the delay. The subjects will always be there. An internship opportunity? Not always.

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Life

How to Turn Your Tragedy Into a Legacy

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tragedy
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Sometimes, life isn’t just unfair – it’s downright cruel. It punishes those who deserve reward, praises those who deserve reprimanding, and at worst – takes the lives of those who deserve living. The year after I graduated high school, my best friend of nearly a decade was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Not just any cancer – but one that’s most often diagnosed in men over the age of 60.

She biked several miles a day, trained ballet multiple days a week, and didn’t lay a finger on drugs. With an energy so addictive, you could feel it a mile away, and a laugh that echoed through the walls, she turned heads in any room she walked into. Two years later, I was traveling abroad when I got the news she was entering hospice. I booked a 15 hour flight home the next morning to go be with her and sit by her bedside.

We made jokes, caught up on the latest Beauty And The Beast remake, reminisced about embarrassing childhood pictures, retold our favorite stories, and made plans for the future. Three months later, three days before my 22nd birthday and a few months after hers, her cancer won. I watched the most incredible soul get robbed of a life and a future they deserved. And I didn’t understand why.

As many people do, I spiraled into depression for the first time the following month until one day I had a dream with her in it. The next morning, I thought of her and what would make her proud.

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” – Robert Kennedy

All of a sudden I realized I had two choices: To use her death as a reason to hold back, avoid healing, and never step outside of my comfort zone for the rest of my life or to use her death as fuel to begin living a life she’d be proud of, and make the kind of impact – and legacy – she didn’t get the chance to.

I knew what I had to do. The next day, I opened my laptop and shared my full story on social media for the first time. No walls, no barriers, no filters. Less than a year later, I’d built a six figure online business helping hundreds of other entrepreneurs grow their businesses by sharing their stories and showing up authentically and vulnerably on social media.

All because I realized I had a choice in the face of tragedy. And so do you. You can choose to let your next hardships serve as an excuse for not creating the life you want. You can choose to play the victim, and stop moving forward because life decided to hand you – or someone around you – a poor deck of cards. Or, you can be the difference.

The 1% who sees opportunity amidst the downfall. The 1% who seeks inspiration during healing. The 1% who gathers the strength to build something bigger than yourself and take one step forward when it feels like the world is pushing you three steps back. It’s up to.

Adversity is to be expected. Curveballs are thrown often. And tragedy is unavoidable – that’s why they call it tragedy. Whether the next time it’s you or someone you love facing tragedy head on, remember that joy wouldn’t be in existence without pain. If you never experience the lows, you’d never feel the beautiful, unforgettable highs. Life would be one long, dull ride.

Let yourself scream, cry, curse the world in the moment – but whatever you do, do not blind yourself from the opportunities that lie ahead tomorrow. Most times, they’re in front of you as clear as day, waiting for you to open your eyes and grab them.

“Every tragedy has a lesson equal in significance to its heartbreak.”

Allow yourself time to heal, process, and grasp what is today, then wake up tomorrow with an open heart. Be open to the idea that perhaps everything does happen for a reason, even if we cannot see it.

Open to the idea that the world only deals us cards we’re strong enough to handle. Open to the idea that pain is temporary, and time truly does heal. If you choose to, I guarantee you will come out on the other side a stronger, better version of you.

Your world may be gray, and you may feel like the weight of it is on your shoulders, but I promise, if you take one-half of a step forward every day you will heal. Not only will you heal, but you will find a way to turn your most painful chapter into your most powerful chapter.

A way to leave a bigger impact, create the life you or your loved one would be proud of, and make this world a better place.

So the next time life decides to test your strength – and it will – remember that you control what happens next. A poor deck of cards might be dealt to you at a moment’s notice, but it’s what you do with it that counts.

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Life

Don’t Like Your Story? Here Are 8 Steps to Reboot Your Life and Start Again

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Create your own story
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Most of the habits, routines, and rituals we practice as adults were learned at an early age. Some of these behaviors serve us well while others create barriers to our personal progress and professional success. And though it’s true that you aren’t responsible for all the awful lessons you might have learned during your youth, as an adult you are ultimately accountable for your choices and habits.

So, what happens when much of what you learned was essential to your childhood survival but is now getting in the way of your ability to thrive? You … can start … again.

Here are eight steps to help you launch your new mindset:

1. Write a deep and meaningful love letter to yourself

Grab a pen and some paper, turn on some relaxing music, get in a comfortable position, and get prepared to write the most profound and meaningful letter of your life. As you begin to write, try to recall your childhood hopes and dreams. Write about the level of commitment you will make to yourself. Write about how you’ll forgive and help yourself stand whenever life knocks you down. When you write, be as detailed as possible. Your love letter will have a tremendous ongoing impact on your life. Don’t rush through it. Just sit with your thoughts for a while.

2. Nurture yourself like a well-loved child

See your younger self as a child that you are responsible for protecting, nurturing, guiding and providing care for. Make it a habit of speaking lovingly and kindly to the child you carry within you. Your interactions with the world can be rough, but you can choose gentleness when caring for your own emotional well-being.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

3. Use a vision board to practice visualization

A vision board is used to display images representing whatever you want to be, do or have in your life. Similar to visualization, vision boards work in line with the principles of The Law of Attraction. Create a vision board and let your imagination soar. Free your mind to allow for every possibility. Know there are no limits except the ones you have imagined.

4. Take your visualization to epic proportions by writing your future story

This exercise is in line with the work you’ve done on your vision board. It’s about hoping for the future and believing in yourself. As you write your future story, you’ll need to abandon your self-limiting beliefs. Tell the story as you would to a friend who hasn’t seen you in five or more years. As you write your future story, share the achievements that made you proud and tell your friend about the many changes you have made and the obstacles you overcame to get where you are in that moment.

5. Invest in a planner/journal and take your dreams from wishing to measurable goals

Planners and journals are great tools that are too often overlooked. There’s a belief that, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and also a belief that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Planners help to minimize the risk of failure by helping you identify milestones and tackle potential issues. Working with a journal also helps you to document wins, work through challenges and brainstorm solutions. As you use your planner, revisit your vision board and future story and bring it all together.

6. Make your home, and workspaces work for you

Whether it’s your home or workspace, make it personal, nurturing, supportive and comfortable. These are the spaces where you live out your days. Every sight, sound, and smell has an effect on both your body and mind. Make your areas work to empower you, boost your productivity, and nurture your imagination. Make it look and feel like the you that you are striving to become.

7. Show yourself love by practicing excellent self-care

If you want to test your self-love, look at how well you practice self-care. We give time and attention to the things we care most about. And we tend to care most about the things we give our time and attention to. Practicing self-care includes getting enough physical activity, eating well, caring for our emotional well-being, being kind to ourselves with our self-talk and doing the extras like caring for our skin and getting massages. The last two items might appear minor, but notice how much we tend to touch those we love.

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” – Diane Von Furstenberg

8. Develop and practice a ritual with mantras, motivation, and meditation

Why mantras, motivation, and meditation? Mantras because you can make mindset changes by repeating motivational and empowering phrases to connect with your thoughts and rewrite your subconscious beliefs. Motivation because you can seek clarity in your goals and empower yourself to take action to achieve your dreams. Meditation because you can strive to feel centered and find peace of mind.

Reboot your life and begin again by retraining your brain to adopt a healthier, more positive mindset and discovering more functional habits. Give these eight recommendations a shot, then pay close attention to the changes you’ll begin to notice within your mind, throughout your body, and in your surroundings.

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Life

10 Tips to Create Time and Space for Both Your Goals and Your Loved Ones

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family goals
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Let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and we all have the same 24 hours. How we spend those 24 hours will determine how much we have to show for them. Whether you are just starting out on a new venture, or perhaps you are taking an existing project or business to the next level, it takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to make it happen. But our personal relationships take the same components to function happily as well.

Here are some helpful tips to help you focus and plan ahead so that you can be your best self in all  areas of your life, without feeling depleted or guilty:

1. Write down your top 3 goals/priorities that you want to focus on this year

Do not list more than 3 – if you have more than 3 major goals then you may be overwhelming yourself and spreading your energy and time too thin.

2. Make 2 lists: Personal and professional goal-related activities

List all the things that you do in each category, so that you can see exactly what tasks you are currently handling in each category. For example, you may be married and also starting a business as a holistic coach. In the personal column, you may list that your spouse expects you to make dinner, and the grocery shopping – as well as have quality time to relax together after dinner.

In the professional column, your list of activities and tasks may include scheduling client appointments, attending networking events, bookkeeping, making sales calls, etc. When you put these lists next to each other, you quickly see that you have way too much on your plate, and that some of these tasks need to be delegated or eliminated.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

3. Go through each list and mark each task in order of importance

Use the hospital triage system: indicate which activities are most urgent and important by putting a #1 next to them and a #2 next to the tasks that are vital but not urgent, and a #3 next to the ones that need to be handled, but are easy to reschedule. Place the letter D next to all tasks that can be handed over, and simply cross out the tasks that you need to stop doing because they are no longer in alignment with your goals.

4. Use a calendar or day planner

It can be an electronic calendar, or a paper one. Do not use pen – you will need to erase things and move them around to honor your need for flexibility and the ever-changing nature of life.

5. In your calendar, make actual appointments that include start and end times to accomplish your #1 tasks

For example, if your business relies on you making sales calls, then that would be a #1 task that needs to have a home in your schedule with actual times allotted for it. Once you have scheduled all of your #1 tasks (both personal and professional), then proceed to entering in the #2 and #3 tasks.

6. Make your time with loved ones a #1 priority and schedule it in!

If it’s not written down or entered on your calendar, then it is just a good intention…it’s not real unless it’s on the books! For example, you could plan your schedule so that your work is completed most days by 6pm, and that all the time after that hour is designated time with your loved ones. Guard this time carefully.

7. Be in communication

Let your colleagues, clients, friends and family know what you are trying to accomplish and that you intend to be present to everyone – including yourself. Be honest about your challenges and stay focused on the goals rather than distracted by the obstacles.

There will be times when your schedule will need to change or you will have to cancel something. Don’t make it wrong, just clean it up and explain to all parties. Also, ask the people in your life what they need and expect from you as well. Don’t feel pressured to be a mind-reader or a people-pleaser.

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” – Brian Tracy

8. Be flexible

Life is constantly moving, changing and growing. Stuff happens. Don’t schedule yourself so tightly that you can’t make adjustments when life throws you a curve ball. Give yourself the gift of structure and discipline so that you may experience the freedom it creates for you. But don’t become a task-master, where your schedule becomes a slave driver. Instead, master your tasks so that you can work smarter, not harder.

9. Be realistic and ask for help when you need it

If your goals are quite lofty, then you may need to let go of a lot of extraneous activity in order to accomplish them. Also, you may simply not have a lot of free time! Continuously check in with yourself to see if you are willing to be, do and have all that will be demanded of you in order to achieve your goals. You don’t have to give up just because it’s hard, but you may need to course-correct from time to time to stay in alignment with your authentic desires.

10. Keep an open mind and your eye on the prize

You really can have it all – but maybe not all at the same time. By choosing what you wish to focus on and giving each task a home in your calendar, you will begin to get more done in less time because you are focusing your energy on very specific types of activity.

Prioritizing goals, organizing your time and writing things down so that you can see it all in front of you is a great way to get clear, efficient and effective. Being in communication with the people in your life is the key to things working more smoothly.

And remember, it’s not about perfection. Focus on your sense of purpose and your progress instead, and you will create more space in your mind for new possibilities.

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Life

Are Your SMART Goals Keeping You Stuck in Mediocrity?

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SMART Goals – they are often seen as the gospel in the personal and professional development industry for goal setting, but are they doing more harm than good? For the most part, I can appreciate the motivation behind setting SMART goals. Do we need goals that are specific, measurable, actionable and time based? Absolutely! My sticking point, however, comes to the “realistic” part.

I don’t like the word realistic. To be realistic means to create a glass ceiling on our capabilities. “Realistic” says that there is a limit to what we can achieve. And yet time and again throughout history, we’ve watched human beings achieve feats that aren’t realistic.

It certainly wasn’t realistic to think that, in the midst of the Great Depression, that a man could build a now multi-billion-dollar company from an animated mouse. It’s not realistic to think that a single mother, who could only write her stories on the bus to and from work each day, would go on to create a billion-dollar empire in Harry Potter. And it certainly isn’t realistic to think that a boy who dropped out of school at 16 because of his struggle with dyslexia could go on to be one of the world’s biggest business moguls today – owning planes, building spaceships and a slew of other companies.

And yet, Walt Disney, JK Rowling and Sir Richard Branson have all created these legacies. All because they dared to be unrealistic, and to believe in their vision. I’ve heard coaches tell their clients that a goal isn’t realistic. I’ve had coaches tell me the same. I’ve listened as my clients tell me their dreams, only to follow it up with “…but I don’t think that’s realistic.” Who am I, and who are you, to say whether a goal is realistic or not?

So, if we’re not completely following SMART goals, how should our goal setting look instead? See below for the 3 step process that will change your life!

1. Follow Stephen Covey’s advice and begin with the end in mind

What is your vision? Write it down, draw it if you need. Be specific. Give as much of the minute detail as possible. Define vague terms like “successful”, “wealthy” or “freedom”. Still give these terms a measure – is successful making a $100,000 or $1 million? Is that before tax or after?

“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” – Jim Rohn

2. Now, break it down

Having worked in the fitness industry for a long time, I know that one of the main issues in goal setting is that people focus on the wrong thing. They tend to look at the big goal they’ve set, not the next step. Think about it, when you climb a mountain, do you stare at the top, or do you look at where your next step needs to be?

Looking at the summit makes the entire climb daunting. It can seem so far away and out of reach. The same is true for our goals. If we’re looking at the “top” – say having a million dollars in the bank while we’re still at the bottom with $100 to our name, or an internationally run business while still working out of our parent’s garage – that gap can seem impossible to overcome.

Once you know where you’re heading, you need to break the vision down into small, actionable, mini-goals. This allows us to create the “steps” we need to climb the proverbial mountain.

Here’s an example, say my goal is to have a successful wellness retreat (successful defined as a profit of $1 million a year). Now that I have a specific and measureable vision, I break it down. What came just before that? Well, I would open the wellness retreat and run my first program. And just before that? I would email confirmation of the first program, with program details, to my registrants.

And before that? I would be marketing the program. Before that I would finish construction on the retreat facilities. Staff training, creating blueprints, finding financing, buying the land – these would all be steps that would need to occur on the way up to my vision being achieved.

Use this question to work all the way back until you reach where you are in life now. You now have a roadmap to show you how to get to your vision. It doesn’t matter if there are 10 steps or 1,000 steps that lie between you and reaching the vision. All you need to focus on is the step that lies just in front of you.

3. Become the person who achieves that vision

John Demartini, a human behavioural specialist, has said that humans cannot become what they don’t already think they are. So many times, I have my clients say to me “Once I achieve x, then I’ll be successful”.

Well, successful people become successful because they already believe they are. championship athletes win because for years prior they’ve been treating their bodies and training like they are a championship athlete. Successful entrepreneurs face each day with a mindset of success.

How do you embed the mindset of the person who has your vision? I love to use this lateral thinking activity: ask yourself “how will having (the vision) make me feel? What mindset will I have when I achieve it?”

Let’s use the wellness retreat example again. Having that retreat would allow me to feel healthy, like I was making a difference to others and I would feel at peace in myself. Then ask – “What other activities would allow me to feel this way?”. To feel healthy, I could attend the gym and yoga classes regularly, and eat whole organic foods. I would ensure I get plenty of sleep.

Other activities that would make me feel like I was helping others would be to have clients and help them work on their health, fitness and mindfulness goals. I could run meditation or yoga classes in my local area. And to feel at peace in myself I could schedule in time to go hiking or to be out in nature regularly. I would also make sure I had my own regular meditation practice.

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” – Les Brown

Can you see how it makes sense that someone who is already actively engaging in all those activities would then own a successful wellness retreat? Engaging in these activities, while we’re taking action towards our vision allows our unconscious beliefs about ourselves to shift into alignment with who we need to be to reach that vision. When we change what we believe to be true about ourselves now, we shatter any glass ceilings that have been keeping us stuck.

Using this three-step goal setting system, you now know the destination you’re travelling to, you have a roadmap to get you there, and the belief that you can. All that’s left to do is now is put one foot in front of the other.

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21 of Dale Carnegie’s Most Influential Quotes From “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

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Image Credit | Ragan Communications

Dale Carnegie is the best-selling author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” He helped people truly grasp how powerful interpersonal skills and public speaking could be to one’s life. (more…)

Armando Quintana III strives to make every day a novel one by treating his life as one big experiment. He's a published writer, signed model, created an educational non-profit, and worked with multiple start-ups helping them excel in sales and marketing. He can be reached @armandoq3 on Instagram or Facebook.

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1 Comment

  1. Nicah Carammba

    May 2, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    Hey, Daniel! Great article! I needed to read something like this after facing a possibility of a delay in my college graduation because I’ve decided to take an internship abroad for a semester. I will be leaving in a few months for that internship, and it really was a challenge to score a placement in that company so I chose that route. I decided that it’s much better to gain experience outside of the four walls of my college classroom. Now I’m not so worried about the delay. The subjects will always be there. An internship opportunity? Not always.

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Life

How to Turn Your Tragedy Into a Legacy

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tragedy
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Sometimes, life isn’t just unfair – it’s downright cruel. It punishes those who deserve reward, praises those who deserve reprimanding, and at worst – takes the lives of those who deserve living. The year after I graduated high school, my best friend of nearly a decade was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. Not just any cancer – but one that’s most often diagnosed in men over the age of 60.

She biked several miles a day, trained ballet multiple days a week, and didn’t lay a finger on drugs. With an energy so addictive, you could feel it a mile away, and a laugh that echoed through the walls, she turned heads in any room she walked into. Two years later, I was traveling abroad when I got the news she was entering hospice. I booked a 15 hour flight home the next morning to go be with her and sit by her bedside.

We made jokes, caught up on the latest Beauty And The Beast remake, reminisced about embarrassing childhood pictures, retold our favorite stories, and made plans for the future. Three months later, three days before my 22nd birthday and a few months after hers, her cancer won. I watched the most incredible soul get robbed of a life and a future they deserved. And I didn’t understand why.

As many people do, I spiraled into depression for the first time the following month until one day I had a dream with her in it. The next morning, I thought of her and what would make her proud.

“Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.” – Robert Kennedy

All of a sudden I realized I had two choices: To use her death as a reason to hold back, avoid healing, and never step outside of my comfort zone for the rest of my life or to use her death as fuel to begin living a life she’d be proud of, and make the kind of impact – and legacy – she didn’t get the chance to.

I knew what I had to do. The next day, I opened my laptop and shared my full story on social media for the first time. No walls, no barriers, no filters. Less than a year later, I’d built a six figure online business helping hundreds of other entrepreneurs grow their businesses by sharing their stories and showing up authentically and vulnerably on social media.

All because I realized I had a choice in the face of tragedy. And so do you. You can choose to let your next hardships serve as an excuse for not creating the life you want. You can choose to play the victim, and stop moving forward because life decided to hand you – or someone around you – a poor deck of cards. Or, you can be the difference.

The 1% who sees opportunity amidst the downfall. The 1% who seeks inspiration during healing. The 1% who gathers the strength to build something bigger than yourself and take one step forward when it feels like the world is pushing you three steps back. It’s up to.

Adversity is to be expected. Curveballs are thrown often. And tragedy is unavoidable – that’s why they call it tragedy. Whether the next time it’s you or someone you love facing tragedy head on, remember that joy wouldn’t be in existence without pain. If you never experience the lows, you’d never feel the beautiful, unforgettable highs. Life would be one long, dull ride.

Let yourself scream, cry, curse the world in the moment – but whatever you do, do not blind yourself from the opportunities that lie ahead tomorrow. Most times, they’re in front of you as clear as day, waiting for you to open your eyes and grab them.

“Every tragedy has a lesson equal in significance to its heartbreak.”

Allow yourself time to heal, process, and grasp what is today, then wake up tomorrow with an open heart. Be open to the idea that perhaps everything does happen for a reason, even if we cannot see it.

Open to the idea that the world only deals us cards we’re strong enough to handle. Open to the idea that pain is temporary, and time truly does heal. If you choose to, I guarantee you will come out on the other side a stronger, better version of you.

Your world may be gray, and you may feel like the weight of it is on your shoulders, but I promise, if you take one-half of a step forward every day you will heal. Not only will you heal, but you will find a way to turn your most painful chapter into your most powerful chapter.

A way to leave a bigger impact, create the life you or your loved one would be proud of, and make this world a better place.

So the next time life decides to test your strength – and it will – remember that you control what happens next. A poor deck of cards might be dealt to you at a moment’s notice, but it’s what you do with it that counts.

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Don’t Like Your Story? Here Are 8 Steps to Reboot Your Life and Start Again

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Create your own story
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Most of the habits, routines, and rituals we practice as adults were learned at an early age. Some of these behaviors serve us well while others create barriers to our personal progress and professional success. And though it’s true that you aren’t responsible for all the awful lessons you might have learned during your youth, as an adult you are ultimately accountable for your choices and habits.

So, what happens when much of what you learned was essential to your childhood survival but is now getting in the way of your ability to thrive? You … can start … again.

Here are eight steps to help you launch your new mindset:

1. Write a deep and meaningful love letter to yourself

Grab a pen and some paper, turn on some relaxing music, get in a comfortable position, and get prepared to write the most profound and meaningful letter of your life. As you begin to write, try to recall your childhood hopes and dreams. Write about the level of commitment you will make to yourself. Write about how you’ll forgive and help yourself stand whenever life knocks you down. When you write, be as detailed as possible. Your love letter will have a tremendous ongoing impact on your life. Don’t rush through it. Just sit with your thoughts for a while.

2. Nurture yourself like a well-loved child

See your younger self as a child that you are responsible for protecting, nurturing, guiding and providing care for. Make it a habit of speaking lovingly and kindly to the child you carry within you. Your interactions with the world can be rough, but you can choose gentleness when caring for your own emotional well-being.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou

3. Use a vision board to practice visualization

A vision board is used to display images representing whatever you want to be, do or have in your life. Similar to visualization, vision boards work in line with the principles of The Law of Attraction. Create a vision board and let your imagination soar. Free your mind to allow for every possibility. Know there are no limits except the ones you have imagined.

4. Take your visualization to epic proportions by writing your future story

This exercise is in line with the work you’ve done on your vision board. It’s about hoping for the future and believing in yourself. As you write your future story, you’ll need to abandon your self-limiting beliefs. Tell the story as you would to a friend who hasn’t seen you in five or more years. As you write your future story, share the achievements that made you proud and tell your friend about the many changes you have made and the obstacles you overcame to get where you are in that moment.

5. Invest in a planner/journal and take your dreams from wishing to measurable goals

Planners and journals are great tools that are too often overlooked. There’s a belief that, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and also a belief that “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” Planners help to minimize the risk of failure by helping you identify milestones and tackle potential issues. Working with a journal also helps you to document wins, work through challenges and brainstorm solutions. As you use your planner, revisit your vision board and future story and bring it all together.

6. Make your home, and workspaces work for you

Whether it’s your home or workspace, make it personal, nurturing, supportive and comfortable. These are the spaces where you live out your days. Every sight, sound, and smell has an effect on both your body and mind. Make your areas work to empower you, boost your productivity, and nurture your imagination. Make it look and feel like the you that you are striving to become.

7. Show yourself love by practicing excellent self-care

If you want to test your self-love, look at how well you practice self-care. We give time and attention to the things we care most about. And we tend to care most about the things we give our time and attention to. Practicing self-care includes getting enough physical activity, eating well, caring for our emotional well-being, being kind to ourselves with our self-talk and doing the extras like caring for our skin and getting massages. The last two items might appear minor, but notice how much we tend to touch those we love.

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” – Diane Von Furstenberg

8. Develop and practice a ritual with mantras, motivation, and meditation

Why mantras, motivation, and meditation? Mantras because you can make mindset changes by repeating motivational and empowering phrases to connect with your thoughts and rewrite your subconscious beliefs. Motivation because you can seek clarity in your goals and empower yourself to take action to achieve your dreams. Meditation because you can strive to feel centered and find peace of mind.

Reboot your life and begin again by retraining your brain to adopt a healthier, more positive mindset and discovering more functional habits. Give these eight recommendations a shot, then pay close attention to the changes you’ll begin to notice within your mind, throughout your body, and in your surroundings.

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10 Tips to Create Time and Space for Both Your Goals and Your Loved Ones

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Let’s face it, there are only 24 hours in a day and we all have the same 24 hours. How we spend those 24 hours will determine how much we have to show for them. Whether you are just starting out on a new venture, or perhaps you are taking an existing project or business to the next level, it takes a lot of time, energy and commitment to make it happen. But our personal relationships take the same components to function happily as well.

Here are some helpful tips to help you focus and plan ahead so that you can be your best self in all  areas of your life, without feeling depleted or guilty:

1. Write down your top 3 goals/priorities that you want to focus on this year

Do not list more than 3 – if you have more than 3 major goals then you may be overwhelming yourself and spreading your energy and time too thin.

2. Make 2 lists: Personal and professional goal-related activities

List all the things that you do in each category, so that you can see exactly what tasks you are currently handling in each category. For example, you may be married and also starting a business as a holistic coach. In the personal column, you may list that your spouse expects you to make dinner, and the grocery shopping – as well as have quality time to relax together after dinner.

In the professional column, your list of activities and tasks may include scheduling client appointments, attending networking events, bookkeeping, making sales calls, etc. When you put these lists next to each other, you quickly see that you have way too much on your plate, and that some of these tasks need to be delegated or eliminated.

“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.” – Tony Robbins

3. Go through each list and mark each task in order of importance

Use the hospital triage system: indicate which activities are most urgent and important by putting a #1 next to them and a #2 next to the tasks that are vital but not urgent, and a #3 next to the ones that need to be handled, but are easy to reschedule. Place the letter D next to all tasks that can be handed over, and simply cross out the tasks that you need to stop doing because they are no longer in alignment with your goals.

4. Use a calendar or day planner

It can be an electronic calendar, or a paper one. Do not use pen – you will need to erase things and move them around to honor your need for flexibility and the ever-changing nature of life.

5. In your calendar, make actual appointments that include start and end times to accomplish your #1 tasks

For example, if your business relies on you making sales calls, then that would be a #1 task that needs to have a home in your schedule with actual times allotted for it. Once you have scheduled all of your #1 tasks (both personal and professional), then proceed to entering in the #2 and #3 tasks.

6. Make your time with loved ones a #1 priority and schedule it in!

If it’s not written down or entered on your calendar, then it is just a good intention…it’s not real unless it’s on the books! For example, you could plan your schedule so that your work is completed most days by 6pm, and that all the time after that hour is designated time with your loved ones. Guard this time carefully.

7. Be in communication

Let your colleagues, clients, friends and family know what you are trying to accomplish and that you intend to be present to everyone – including yourself. Be honest about your challenges and stay focused on the goals rather than distracted by the obstacles.

There will be times when your schedule will need to change or you will have to cancel something. Don’t make it wrong, just clean it up and explain to all parties. Also, ask the people in your life what they need and expect from you as well. Don’t feel pressured to be a mind-reader or a people-pleaser.

“People with clear, written goals, accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them could ever imagine.” – Brian Tracy

8. Be flexible

Life is constantly moving, changing and growing. Stuff happens. Don’t schedule yourself so tightly that you can’t make adjustments when life throws you a curve ball. Give yourself the gift of structure and discipline so that you may experience the freedom it creates for you. But don’t become a task-master, where your schedule becomes a slave driver. Instead, master your tasks so that you can work smarter, not harder.

9. Be realistic and ask for help when you need it

If your goals are quite lofty, then you may need to let go of a lot of extraneous activity in order to accomplish them. Also, you may simply not have a lot of free time! Continuously check in with yourself to see if you are willing to be, do and have all that will be demanded of you in order to achieve your goals. You don’t have to give up just because it’s hard, but you may need to course-correct from time to time to stay in alignment with your authentic desires.

10. Keep an open mind and your eye on the prize

You really can have it all – but maybe not all at the same time. By choosing what you wish to focus on and giving each task a home in your calendar, you will begin to get more done in less time because you are focusing your energy on very specific types of activity.

Prioritizing goals, organizing your time and writing things down so that you can see it all in front of you is a great way to get clear, efficient and effective. Being in communication with the people in your life is the key to things working more smoothly.

And remember, it’s not about perfection. Focus on your sense of purpose and your progress instead, and you will create more space in your mind for new possibilities.

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Are Your SMART Goals Keeping You Stuck in Mediocrity?

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SMART Goals – they are often seen as the gospel in the personal and professional development industry for goal setting, but are they doing more harm than good? For the most part, I can appreciate the motivation behind setting SMART goals. Do we need goals that are specific, measurable, actionable and time based? Absolutely! My sticking point, however, comes to the “realistic” part.

I don’t like the word realistic. To be realistic means to create a glass ceiling on our capabilities. “Realistic” says that there is a limit to what we can achieve. And yet time and again throughout history, we’ve watched human beings achieve feats that aren’t realistic.

It certainly wasn’t realistic to think that, in the midst of the Great Depression, that a man could build a now multi-billion-dollar company from an animated mouse. It’s not realistic to think that a single mother, who could only write her stories on the bus to and from work each day, would go on to create a billion-dollar empire in Harry Potter. And it certainly isn’t realistic to think that a boy who dropped out of school at 16 because of his struggle with dyslexia could go on to be one of the world’s biggest business moguls today – owning planes, building spaceships and a slew of other companies.

And yet, Walt Disney, JK Rowling and Sir Richard Branson have all created these legacies. All because they dared to be unrealistic, and to believe in their vision. I’ve heard coaches tell their clients that a goal isn’t realistic. I’ve had coaches tell me the same. I’ve listened as my clients tell me their dreams, only to follow it up with “…but I don’t think that’s realistic.” Who am I, and who are you, to say whether a goal is realistic or not?

So, if we’re not completely following SMART goals, how should our goal setting look instead? See below for the 3 step process that will change your life!

1. Follow Stephen Covey’s advice and begin with the end in mind

What is your vision? Write it down, draw it if you need. Be specific. Give as much of the minute detail as possible. Define vague terms like “successful”, “wealthy” or “freedom”. Still give these terms a measure – is successful making a $100,000 or $1 million? Is that before tax or after?

“Goals. There’s no telling what you can do when you get inspired by them. There’s no telling what you can do when you believe in them. And there’s no telling what will happen when you act upon them.” – Jim Rohn

2. Now, break it down

Having worked in the fitness industry for a long time, I know that one of the main issues in goal setting is that people focus on the wrong thing. They tend to look at the big goal they’ve set, not the next step. Think about it, when you climb a mountain, do you stare at the top, or do you look at where your next step needs to be?

Looking at the summit makes the entire climb daunting. It can seem so far away and out of reach. The same is true for our goals. If we’re looking at the “top” – say having a million dollars in the bank while we’re still at the bottom with $100 to our name, or an internationally run business while still working out of our parent’s garage – that gap can seem impossible to overcome.

Once you know where you’re heading, you need to break the vision down into small, actionable, mini-goals. This allows us to create the “steps” we need to climb the proverbial mountain.

Here’s an example, say my goal is to have a successful wellness retreat (successful defined as a profit of $1 million a year). Now that I have a specific and measureable vision, I break it down. What came just before that? Well, I would open the wellness retreat and run my first program. And just before that? I would email confirmation of the first program, with program details, to my registrants.

And before that? I would be marketing the program. Before that I would finish construction on the retreat facilities. Staff training, creating blueprints, finding financing, buying the land – these would all be steps that would need to occur on the way up to my vision being achieved.

Use this question to work all the way back until you reach where you are in life now. You now have a roadmap to show you how to get to your vision. It doesn’t matter if there are 10 steps or 1,000 steps that lie between you and reaching the vision. All you need to focus on is the step that lies just in front of you.

3. Become the person who achieves that vision

John Demartini, a human behavioural specialist, has said that humans cannot become what they don’t already think they are. So many times, I have my clients say to me “Once I achieve x, then I’ll be successful”.

Well, successful people become successful because they already believe they are. championship athletes win because for years prior they’ve been treating their bodies and training like they are a championship athlete. Successful entrepreneurs face each day with a mindset of success.

How do you embed the mindset of the person who has your vision? I love to use this lateral thinking activity: ask yourself “how will having (the vision) make me feel? What mindset will I have when I achieve it?”

Let’s use the wellness retreat example again. Having that retreat would allow me to feel healthy, like I was making a difference to others and I would feel at peace in myself. Then ask – “What other activities would allow me to feel this way?”. To feel healthy, I could attend the gym and yoga classes regularly, and eat whole organic foods. I would ensure I get plenty of sleep.

Other activities that would make me feel like I was helping others would be to have clients and help them work on their health, fitness and mindfulness goals. I could run meditation or yoga classes in my local area. And to feel at peace in myself I could schedule in time to go hiking or to be out in nature regularly. I would also make sure I had my own regular meditation practice.

“If you set goals and go after them with all the determination you can muster, your gifts will take you places that will amaze you.” – Les Brown

Can you see how it makes sense that someone who is already actively engaging in all those activities would then own a successful wellness retreat? Engaging in these activities, while we’re taking action towards our vision allows our unconscious beliefs about ourselves to shift into alignment with who we need to be to reach that vision. When we change what we believe to be true about ourselves now, we shatter any glass ceilings that have been keeping us stuck.

Using this three-step goal setting system, you now know the destination you’re travelling to, you have a roadmap to get you there, and the belief that you can. All that’s left to do is now is put one foot in front of the other.

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