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Success Advice

How To Silence The Side Of Yourself That Wants To See You Fail

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Ever feel like you’re waging an internal war? It might not be bloody, but it does kill. It kills your self-esteem, confidence, and your dream.

One side wants to see you succeed, feel good about yourself, and exceed in all of your endeavors. The other is taking every chance it gets to drag you down. The fierce battle between the two sides can drive anyone crazy.

Becoming an entrepreneur means taking major steps outside your comfort zone. It will most likely trigger fear, disbelief, and doubt. It will probably make that mean voice inside seem louder and even more condescending.

If that’s the voice that’s running your inner dialogue today, it’s time to make it stop. It’s time to say goodbye once and for all.

Here are the 5 steps on how to silence the side of yourself that wants to see you fail:

1. Detach yourself from your toxic thoughts

The monkey. That’s what I call that destructive and mean voice that can come in and overpower us. Because let’s face it, it can behave just like a drunk, neurotic monkey who’s tirelessly jumping around and chattering in a desperate attempt to get our attention.

The monkey thinks he’s protecting you. But in reality, he’s hindering you from creating the life you truly desire. Why? Because the monkey is trying to protect what you’ve accepted as truth — whether it serves you or not.

If you believe that making money requires hard work and struggle, the monkey will want to prove you’re right. If you think you aren’t smart enough or consistently lack time, the monkey will do just about anything to prove that your belief is correct.

The thing is, if you’ve heard something repeatedly in the past, or if you’ve had an emotionally painful experience, your monkey will remember that. And he’ll do just about anything to protect you from feeling that pain again.

Now, it might sound like this little guy is your enemy. He’s not. He’s just a scared little monkey who needs you to take charge of the situation.

So, when you have these toxic thoughts, start by separating the monkey’s voice from your own. It’s not you talking, OK? Detach yourself by acknowledging and observing his presence. Don’t fight or get upset over his comments; that will only fuel him. Instead, be polite, and greet the little fellow by saying, “Well, hello little monkey!”

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” – Willie Nelson

2Take control over the chatter

So, now that you’ve acknowledged the monkey, it’s time to calm him down. How do you calm a drunk and neurotic monkey?

That’s right, by giving him a big hug. And by telling him soothing phrases such as, “Thanks for looking out for me, but don’t worry. I’ve got this under control.” You can even imagine yourself petting the little monkey on its head.

Remember that poking current beliefs is scary to the monkey. It will trigger him. To remain in control of your inner-dialogue, simply acknowledge what caused your monkey to go bananas. Play detective on yourself to get the bigger picture of the situation.

Maybe you’re stepping outside of familiar boundaries? Maybe you’re facing struggles on your path as an entrepreneur? Maybe you’re diving headfirst into something that scares you silly?

Remember, it’s probably a good thing you’re doing here. You’re probably stretching limits, breaking boundaries, and growing as a person. See the situation for what it is (and not through the eyes of a terrified and neurotic monkey).

So, sooth your monkey, and simply acknowledge what made him scared. That’s how you put yourself in the driving seat. That’s how you become the master of your monkey (and not the other way around).

 

3. Replace negative thoughts with better feeling ones

Now that you’ve calmed the monkey, look for better-feeling thoughts around the subject. The trick here is to find thoughts that are positive, but not too positive so that your mind asks, “What the heck are you talking about? This isn’t what you’ve been telling me!”

Thoughts gain momentum, so you can’t instantly go from “I can’t do this” to “I can totally do this!” without feeling like a big liar. So go step-by-step. First aim to reach a neutral place. Play around with thoughts until you find those you resonate with emotionally. Here are some of my favorites:

  • “I’ve done similar things in the past, and that’s gone well.”
  • “It doesn’t matter where I am today, when I know where I’m going.”

When you’ve managed to come to a neutral place, find more positive thoughts that can lift you toward a positive place. Once you’ve done that, reach for another one that makes you feel a little bit better than the previous one. Small and simple steps, that’s all.

 

4. Keep nurturing your positive thoughts

So, now that you’ve shifted focus to more positive thoughts, things start to become clearer. Ah, the haze is dissolving (love those moments!), and you can start building positive momentum that will propel you forward.

Now, think of your thoughts as a garden. Whatever you plant there will grow. The monkey loves a beautiful and prosperous garden where he can relax. If that’s what you’re growing, he doesn’t need to worry for you. Then he can just sit back and smell the flowers.

So, pay attention to what you’re planting in your garden. Are you growing appreciation or criticism? Is it a garden full of opportunities or limitations? Is it the successes or failures in your life that are in bloom? The flowers you take most care of will blossom and overshadow the others.

Simply, bask yourself in the feelings of already being, doing, and having what you want.

“You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind.” – Joyce Meyer

5. Leave room for the voice that will guide you right

Being bullied around by your inner voice is hard. Not only does it shatter your great vision – it leaves you feeling unworthy, disempowered, and frustrated.

You deserve to feel good about yourself. You deserve to live a life of excitement, exhilaration, and bliss. You deserve to make your dream a reality. That’s the whole purpose of a dream, isn’t it?

So, take control. Calm and soothe your monkey when he’s active, and nurture your positive thoughts. Don’t let your monkey master your life. Instead, master your monkey to master your life.

Leave space for that voice inside that wants to see you succeed and be happy. That’s the voice worth listening to. That’s the voice that knows what you’re truly capable of. That’s the voice that will guide you right.

What do you do to silence the side of yourself that wants to see you fail? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    Jan 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Great article, Maria!

    I couldn’t agree more that becoming an entrepreneur requires you to go way beyond your comfort zone. It might be temporarily uncomfortable but the payoff is amazing 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Jan 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks Camilla!

      Yes, you are so right. Well said. Got to keep our eyes on the prize 🙂

  2. Judy Parsons

    Jan 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    My inner voice is Cissy. She’s afraid of everything. We’re going to have some good conversations from now on.

  3. Nicki Lee

    Dec 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Love your advice about talking to the monkey! “Thanks for looking out for me, but don’t worry. I’ve got this under control.” I’m going to try it today.

  4. akash

    Dec 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Great article maria. I am really impressed with your writing skills.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks a lot! You just put a BIG smile on my face.

      Have a great day!
      Maria

  5. Laura J. Tong

    Dec 27, 2015 at 10:44 am

    This so totally sums up that split of voices in my head that argue so often! Thank you for these great strategies.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      You’re so right Laura. Thank you for your comment and have a great day! 🙂

  6. Ann

    Dec 25, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Hi Maria,

    You’re post is spot on, our thoughts can make or break us…the posts has great points on how to make it work.

  7. Tim Denning

    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Maria thank you for sharing this advice. While I have been able to get the monkey off my back in recent times, I still find the chatter can be an issue. I will definitely use tip number two to try and settle this down in times of need. Thank you again for taking the time to write this piece.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your comment and kind words!

      I’m happy to hear that, I hope it calms your monkey 😉

      Cheers,
      Maria

  8. Mike Harrington

    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Ha-ha, love the monkey analogy.

    So true, as well. Our thoughts are truly the most powerful force in creating either the life of our dreams OR the life of our nightmares.

    I’m gonna go give my monkey a hug and tell him to go play in the garden now. 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Well put, Mike!

      Haha, that’ll make your monkey happy 😉

      Cheers!
      Maria

  9. Mark Tong

    Dec 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Maria – really helpful post, especially regards that pesky monkey:) Thanks

  10. Blaine Wilkerson

    Dec 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Very cool. Most posts talk about ditching the monkey. You suggest we master it.

    Is it purely metaphorical? Or do you believe we should “master the monkey” cuz there are times we may need to use it?

    I instantly thought of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” and Aerosmith’s “Monkey on my back” 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Blaine,

      I believe the money (the ego) always will be a part of our life. But we decide how much. By mastering him, we can allow him work for us, instead of against us. I don’t believe he wants to lead the way, he just wants to make sure we step in and take control 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!
      Maria

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Hi Blaine,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I believe that the monkey (the ego) always will be a part of our life. Our job is to stop making it work against us, and instead, allow it to work for us. Ditching it might work, but that usually just ends up with the noise getting louder. So, not really sustainable (plus it makes you feel pretty insane when you think one thing and then do another). ) Instead of dismissing it and pushing it away, I believe it’s way more powerful to actually allow it to be there. To acknowledge it and learn how to master it.

      Cheers!
      Maria

  11. Benjamin Worika

    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Thanks Maria, for this truly insightful and action oriented piece.
    I think the greatest challenge, to taming the Monkey, is getting to “Detachment” most folks have come to a state where the Monkeys voice “Cloaks” their own voice and they erroneously believe that “The Monkey is Me”
    Exercises that aid the detachment process would go a long way…I especially love the visualizing part of patting the Monkeys head.
    Love your piece, you just won a heart in Nigeria.
    Cheers.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 20, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Hi Benjamin,

      Thanks a lot for your very nice comment!

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s so easy to believe that we are our thoughts. And it’s such a relief to realize that they simply are thoughts – not the truth or who we are.

      Again, thanks for your last sentence. It made my day and warmed my heart 🙂

      Cheers,
      Maria

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Success Advice

You Don’t Have To Listen To Every Bit Of Career Feedback. Some People Just Don’t Get You And That’s Fine!

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I recently got rejected from what I thought was a fantastic career opportunity. I was told that I was “Not entrepreneurial enough.”

Those that know me well know that it’s probably one of the few things I’m good at. Many of my mentors who I told this story to laughed out loud.

These three words were career feedback and I was always led to believe that to ignore this feedback would be ignorant and stupid.

I pondered that thought for a few days and then had a revelation: “I don’t have to listen to every bit of feedback I get.”

 

Pissed off is a natural first reaction.

That’s how I felt after someone told me I was crap at the very thing I love and have dedicated most of my time to. Our brain wants to be angry and fight back. Our first reaction, though, is often not what we should pay attention to.

“Empty space and time to reflect is how we process career feedback for what it really is: an opinion”

Don’t let your first reaction dominate how you think about the feedback. Maturity that can come at any age will show you to question everything – even your reaction.

 

Some people just don’t get you.

You’re not their type, they don’t like you, you speak a different language or you may have different values. Not everyone is going to get you and what you stand for and that’s okay. In my case, I didn’t connect.

Buying into the circus that is me is not for everyone. If you don’t like vulnerability or breaking comfort zones, then you probably won’t like me.

If you’re not obsessed with big goals, doing the impossible and trying to improve just a little bit every day, then you probably won’t like me.

That’s okay and I forgive you. I don’t have all the answers and I’m far from perfect – like the rest of us.

Learn to accept that some people will never get you and what you’re about.

That realization is how we overcome career feedback that we may not agree with.

 

Sometimes it’s any excuse. The real answer is something different.

Feedback can be disguised by the truth. The truth is maybe there was someone else the whole time and I never had a chance at this career opportunity. Maybe it wasn’t me at all.

Sometimes feedback is given because the real reason is much harder to deliver. It’s not easy to say “Tim, thanks but we hired someone else and you were never in the running.”

Admitting you never even had a chance is something many of us would never want to say. Being brutally honest takes courage, and courage is not everyone’s kind of kebab with garlic sauce on top, sprinkles and chili flakes.

 

We all get rejected.

I nearly forgot this fact. Everyone gets rejected. In fact, right now, someone is being rejected.

Rejection is not limited to you and me; learning to deal with it will only help us, not hinder our ability to achieve success in any field.

“We’ve all got 99 problems and thinking you’re special will only create more pointless thoughts that won’t serve you or your goals”

 

You’re responsible.

The thing about career feedback is that you have to take responsibility. Maybe in my case, I didn’t deliver the message of how obsessed and skilled I am at entrepreneurship. Maybe I could have done a better job at explaining my entrepreneurial background and passion.

It’s highly likely that I am entrepreneurial enough for this career opportunity and that it’s not a lack of skill at play here but a lack of effective communication.

“Responsibility always trumps the blame game and it helps us grow more as a person”

 

There’s always one lesson.

Mine was to develop more skills in strategy.

Let’s stop for one second: I hate the word strategy. The other career feedback I got was to do more strategy yet that’s not a skill of mine and I have no desire to do lots of that in my career.

The key here is that there’s always a lesson from all feedback and it might not be the intended lesson that the giver left you with.

There’s either a great lesson in the feedback or a reminder in the feedback of what you stand for. Don’t let any feedback compromise your values and who you are.

 

You are good enough.

You just have to believe in yourself and eventually, the right opportunity will find you.

Don’t give up your hopes and dreams because of one rejection. Interrupt the story in your head that plays on repeat and focuses on anger towards another person.

Replace that story with thoughts of how you can do better and get to the next opportunity.

Through rejection and bad career feedback, you find your way to what you’ve always wanted. That’s the hack and it works.

I’m off to suck up the rejection and take my own advice. Much respect.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

6 Important Lessons That Will Lead You to Success

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Failure is a part of life and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because the most highly successful people are the ones who have experienced failures the most in their life. The general public usually learns about people and their work when they become successful but only a handful of people know about the immense struggles that those people have gone through. Unfortunately, we do not have the stories of their failures to which we can relate our own setbacks and this is why we perceive failure to be a bad thing.

People are afraid of failure because, from a very young age, they are taught that making mistakes and being wrong is a bad thing so when a person suffers from a failure, it’s possible for that person to experience some form of depression. It is important for you to understand failure is a way for you to learn and move on from the experience. It is literally impossible to live life forever without failing at something, unless you live your life so carefully that you forget to live at all.

Here are 6 lessons that you should embrace that will change in your life:

1. Keep Your Expectations Low

When it comes to life, people often expect things like family, business, and marriage to be constant and consistent throughout the years. However, this is not the case because life is not that simple and there are always ups and downs which you need to confront.

Having low expectations is totally understandable and justifiable but having high expectations from relationships and businesses could prove to be harmful if those things don’t last forever. In addition to this, keeping your expectations low helps you accept whatever comes from the situation. High expectations tend to result in disappointment, pain, and loss, so it’s better for you to have low expectations, yet continue to work hard with what you are doing.

2. Acknowledge the Change

Most of the time, people think they may not experience change at all in their life because they are expecting things to last forever, but little do they know that change is always waiting to take place and can happen at any point in time. Acknowledging change means you’re fully aware of the situation and this will help when change occurs and you move from the stage of shock to acceptance.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

3. Accept the Change

The acceptance of change can be difficult and you might resist it at first, but you need to understand the fact that accepting the change will help you make the necessary adjustments that you need in your life. Preventing and stopping the change from happening can prove to be disastrous for you because you are rejecting the fact that the situation has changed and are still living in the past.

Things turn out to be different from the way you expected them to be and this is completely  fine because you will be able to deal with the change more effectively by embracing the new situation.

4. Learn from Your Past

Once you accept the change and are ready to embrace it, it will start making sense and you will find lessons from which you can learn a lot. It is important to learn from your previous mistakes because learning and moving on eliminates the probability of you making those mistakes again in future.

5. Grow Stronger than Before

Accepting, embracing and learning from the change makes you stronger and better than you were in the past. The ability to learn from your past makes you a better person who is able to deal with the changes more easily and is able to move on without having any regrets in life. Moreover, this change will take away the fear of making new adjustments in life.

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” – Bob Goff

6. Acknowledge the Wisdom and Embrace it

The more you permit change to happen in your life, the better you grow as an individual. Embracing the wisdom will bring new found energy and strength into your life with inner peace and calmness. Embracing the change proactively and accepting it as a part of your life will result in you being calmer and stronger than ever. Change is not your enemy but the greatest teacher from whom you will learn most of your life lessons.

It is worth mentioning that during the process of accepting change, you need to be brutally honest with yourself because most people are in denial and fail to realize the real reason behind the change. It is insane to repeat the same mistakes again and again with the expectations of a different result. So, if you do not learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to fail again.

Failure can find you again, but if the situation is different from the previous one, then it’s just another experience. You need to stand up after you fall since you cannot stop problems from occurring in your life. What you can do is handle them in a more strategic way.

Problems are a part of your journey, however, the important thing is to keep your eyes on the final destination. Once you reach your final destination, you will realize that all those problems you faced were totally worth the success.

Failure is the one who falls and never stands back up. When you stand back up and keep on trying to achieve what you want, you’re not a failure but a winner in life. So, never lose hope and always look for the positive side, even in the toughest of situations because this is what successful people do.

How do you embrace change and keep pushing forward in life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Happiness

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With so many demands on our time, energy, wallet from work, family and friends, figuring out what makes you happy and going after it can be a challenge. If you don’t prioritize your happiness, nobody else will. These five simple hacks will help you supercharge your happiness so you can avoid burnout, overwhelm, and going to that second cousin twice removed’s barbeque just because you “should.”

1. Schedule plenty of YOU time into your week

Let’s face it, most of our lives revolve around other people. Work, friends, spouses and partners, family, etc., the majority of our day requires us to interact with other people and that can be really exhausting. It’s important to schedule at least an hour a day – and more if you can – of YOU time into your calendar to take care of yourself.

Doing things that you enjoy, whether that’s listening to a podcast, reading, or working out, and doing them alone allows you to reconnect to who you are and have something positive to look forward to every single day.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Ludwig Jacobowski

2. Make “no” the most important word in your vocabulary

Making other people happy is something that we all want. It feels good to help someone out or make their lives easier. The problem is that we often sacrifice our own well-being when we say “yes” too much, especially for opportunities, work, or interactions that don’t personally fulfill us.

So whether it’s with friends, co-workers, or colleagues, learning to say no not only increases your productivity, but also your quality of life. When you set clear boundaries for the things that you don’t want and won’t accept, it leaves more room for the people and experiences that do make you happy. And remember: You don’t owe anyone an explanation if you say no to them.

3. Create a “shake the day off” routine

Even the happiest people go through stressful periods. One of the biggest issues that leads to serial unhappiness, burnout, and chronic stress is not having a release to clear out the stress that’s built up over the course of the day.

So once you’ve closed your laptop or walked through the door, it’s important to have a routine that you do that helps you get everything you’ve been bottling up off your chest. Whether that’s playing loud music and ranting for 10 minutes, spending 20 minutes with a partner where you both get to talk about the stresses of the day, or just putting on your favorite playlist and dancing it out, it’s crucial to give your mind and your body the opportunity to let go of stress on a consistent basis.

Having a place to channel negative emotion at the end of the day will help you move through the emotions, honor them, and not dwell on them incessantly. And if you had an absolutely amazing day, flip your routine on its head – spend 10 minutes celebrating.

4. Do a closet purge

Our closets hold a lot of memories – good and bad, and they tend to be where we hoard a lot of emotional baggage, both metaphorically and literally. Go through your closet and find your favorite outfits that you wear currently, whether it’s sweatpants and a t-shirt or a really well-tailored outfit, that’s your starting point.

Everything in your closet and drawers should make you feel that amazing. So get rid of any clothes that are too big or too small, any emotionally-charged pieces of clothing (for example, if you’ve still got your wedding outfit after a divorce, donate it), or anything that doesn’t represent who you are.

Your style is an opportunity to make a statement about who you are and the clothes you wear should boost your mood. Even if you’re a minimalist, you should be proud of the quality of your pieces and how they fit.

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie

5. Get up close and personal with your bank account every day

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does give you options. So many people have a fear of money and they avoid it like the plague. Checking their bank balance is their least favorite to do, they hate paying bills, and they avoid opening mail or screen phone calls to make sure it’s not the bank.

Facing the reality of your money situation, whether it needs fixing or it’s great, will only help you improve it. You can also seek the advice of a financial planner at your bank to help you with this and create a plan to shift your situation. You might have more options available than you know.

Getting clear about the gap between your spending and your income can help push you to start looking for that job or new opportunity that you’ve been procrastinating on. Tracking your finances on a daily or weekly basis can help you come up with creative solutions to make more money and provide yourself with more options for financial freedom.

Maybe you’re paying for cable, Netflix, and Hulu, but it’d be more cost effective to just get Netflix and HBO Go because that’s all you ever watch anyways. You’ll never know where more options are hiding until you get up close and personal with the reality of your financial situation.

Comment below with the happiness-boosting tip that you’ll be implementing today!

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Success Advice

5 Goal-Setting Myths That Are Busted Once and for All

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Brian Tracy said it a long time ago “People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them can ever imagine.” Today, it’s scientifically proven that people with goals are more successful.  

Why? Because, setting goals will drive you to take action. Having clearly defined goals is like having a GPS System leading the way. But to be led, first you have to know where you want to go. And let’s be honest the vast majority of us don’t have even the slightest idea of where to start to make our dreams come true.

If you decide to join the 3% to 5% of people who set daily, weekly and quarterly goals, take it one step at a time and remain flexible, then over time, you can achieve things that you couldn’t even imagine before.

Lets start by busting 5 goal-setting myths:

1. Your goals have to be S.M.A.R.T.

Not true. It might be better to have smart goals, but simply having goals and writing them down already sets you apart from around 97% of people who don’t have them. My first goal which was starting my whole process about five years ago was to read more. Not a smart goal because it was not specific, measurable, or time-bound, but enough for a start. I went from not reading any books in five years to reading one book per week.

My five-year goal was “Write a book.” Again not a smart goal, but 4 1/2 years later I’m a bestselling author with more than 180,000 sales and downloads on Amazon, my books have been translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Indonesian, etc. and I’m currently working on my seventh book. This is proof your goals don’t have to be SMART.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

2. You have to set realistic goals

What is realistic? If I had told people a couple of years ago: “In two years I’m going to be a bestselling author, I’m going to be on TV, radio, and my books will be read around the world”, chances are I’d rather have ended up in a madhouse than on the Amazon Bestseller list.

So it depends. If you tend to beat yourself up for not reaching your goals, then I would advise you to set smaller, more realistic goals. For example, if you set the goal of earning $100,000 USD a year and end up earning $97,000 USD and then beat yourself up feeling like a failure, I recommend you to set small, realistic goals.

If you are like me and always celebrate how far you have come even if you didn’t reach your goals, then set huge unrealistic goals. You want to earn $150,000 USD a year? Great, but if you only get to $50,000 USD in the first year, celebrate it. It’s better than $40,000. Analyze what went wrong, make a new plan and go for the $150,000 USD next year.

3. You have to reach all your goals

Actually, you don’t. I dare to bet that if you reach 50% of the goals you set, your life will be so much better, than not setting goals at all. Again, this depends on your personality. If you are a perfectionist, you might want to learn this kind of approach. In the last two years, I have only reached 40-50% of my goals, but it was by far the two best years of my life. I celebrated the goals I reached, and the goals I didn’t reach were discarded or turned into new goals for next year.

4. Reaching your goals will make you happier

Again, not true. Reaching your goals will not make you happier. It will only give you temporary highs before you go back to your base-level of happiness and set new goals. Goals properly understood will make you happier. It’s not the attaining of the goal that leads to happiness, it’s the having of the goal that leads to happiness. The role of your goals is to liberate us to enjoy the present.

If you go on a road trip and don’t know where to go or don’t have a destination, you are less likely to enjoy the present moment because every minute you have to look around. Every crossroads or turn you reach becomes an important decision. This is stressful. If you know where you are going, you have a sense of direction. You will feel liberated.

You are much more likely to enjoy the process, the environment, the landscape or the proverbial “flowers on the side of the way.” Not only that, if you have a clear sense of direction, you are much more likely to be happy. We need a goal for future orientation so that we can enjoy the present more

5. Having goals will make your more successful

Although science has shown that people who set goals are generally more successful, because they are more focused, having goals will not make you more successful. Many have people have goals and dreams and never reach them. They might even have written them down and try to use the “Law of Attraction” to reach their goals.

There is only one problem, nobody reaches their goals sitting on the sofa and imagining good things to happen. The most important ingredient is missing: TAKING ACTION. Having goals and working your butt off to reach them will make you more successful.

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

I meet many people that have no goals and are happy. That’s totally okay. There is a time for everything. If you don’t have goals and are happy…keep on not having goals. No need to change what’s working, you will know when the time comes. Just listen very closely to the “I don’t need goals. I’m happy without goals” voice because comfort and fear talk the same talk.

Keep in mind that if you want to have an even better life, go set some goals, write them down and start working on them. It will be worth it.

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5 Ways to Realize Your Authentic Self

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authenticity

I was a scared kid throughout my younger years. Overly-cautious and wildly unsure were just a few of my characteristics as I headed into adulthood. Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t present to many of the decisions I made in my youth in regards to navigating life thus I was blindly going along with it. (more…)

Dan Whalen is a franchise operator with College Hunks Hauling Junk & Moving, personal development writer, and NLP master practitioner. He has a background in business management and team leadership spanning nearly a decade, and has a deeply-rooted passion for helping people experience fulfilling lives. You can find him on Twitter at @DanielJWhalen.

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23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Camilla Hallstrom

    Jan 11, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Great article, Maria!

    I couldn’t agree more that becoming an entrepreneur requires you to go way beyond your comfort zone. It might be temporarily uncomfortable but the payoff is amazing 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Jan 11, 2016 at 3:29 pm

      Thanks Camilla!

      Yes, you are so right. Well said. Got to keep our eyes on the prize 🙂

  2. Judy Parsons

    Jan 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    My inner voice is Cissy. She’s afraid of everything. We’re going to have some good conversations from now on.

  3. Nicki Lee

    Dec 29, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    Love your advice about talking to the monkey! “Thanks for looking out for me, but don’t worry. I’ve got this under control.” I’m going to try it today.

  4. akash

    Dec 29, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    Great article maria. I am really impressed with your writing skills.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 30, 2015 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks a lot! You just put a BIG smile on my face.

      Have a great day!
      Maria

  5. Laura J. Tong

    Dec 27, 2015 at 10:44 am

    This so totally sums up that split of voices in my head that argue so often! Thank you for these great strategies.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 30, 2015 at 12:33 pm

      You’re so right Laura. Thank you for your comment and have a great day! 🙂

  6. Ann

    Dec 25, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Hi Maria,

    You’re post is spot on, our thoughts can make or break us…the posts has great points on how to make it work.

  7. Tim Denning

    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    Maria thank you for sharing this advice. While I have been able to get the monkey off my back in recent times, I still find the chatter can be an issue. I will definitely use tip number two to try and settle this down in times of need. Thank you again for taking the time to write this piece.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:38 am

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for your comment and kind words!

      I’m happy to hear that, I hope it calms your monkey 😉

      Cheers,
      Maria

  8. Mike Harrington

    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    Ha-ha, love the monkey analogy.

    So true, as well. Our thoughts are truly the most powerful force in creating either the life of our dreams OR the life of our nightmares.

    I’m gonna go give my monkey a hug and tell him to go play in the garden now. 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:37 am

      Well put, Mike!

      Haha, that’ll make your monkey happy 😉

      Cheers!
      Maria

  9. Mark Tong

    Dec 20, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Maria – really helpful post, especially regards that pesky monkey:) Thanks

  10. Blaine Wilkerson

    Dec 20, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Very cool. Most posts talk about ditching the monkey. You suggest we master it.

    Is it purely metaphorical? Or do you believe we should “master the monkey” cuz there are times we may need to use it?

    I instantly thought of Peter Gabriel’s “Shock the Monkey” and Aerosmith’s “Monkey on my back” 🙂

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 20, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      Hi Blaine,

      I believe the money (the ego) always will be a part of our life. But we decide how much. By mastering him, we can allow him work for us, instead of against us. I don’t believe he wants to lead the way, he just wants to make sure we step in and take control 🙂

      Thanks for your comment!
      Maria

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 21, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Hi Blaine,

      Thanks for your comment!

      I believe that the monkey (the ego) always will be a part of our life. Our job is to stop making it work against us, and instead, allow it to work for us. Ditching it might work, but that usually just ends up with the noise getting louder. So, not really sustainable (plus it makes you feel pretty insane when you think one thing and then do another). ) Instead of dismissing it and pushing it away, I believe it’s way more powerful to actually allow it to be there. To acknowledge it and learn how to master it.

      Cheers!
      Maria

  11. Benjamin Worika

    Dec 20, 2015 at 6:42 am

    Thanks Maria, for this truly insightful and action oriented piece.
    I think the greatest challenge, to taming the Monkey, is getting to “Detachment” most folks have come to a state where the Monkeys voice “Cloaks” their own voice and they erroneously believe that “The Monkey is Me”
    Exercises that aid the detachment process would go a long way…I especially love the visualizing part of patting the Monkeys head.
    Love your piece, you just won a heart in Nigeria.
    Cheers.

    • Maria Stenvinkel

      Dec 20, 2015 at 11:23 am

      Hi Benjamin,

      Thanks a lot for your very nice comment!

      I couldn’t agree more. It’s so easy to believe that we are our thoughts. And it’s such a relief to realize that they simply are thoughts – not the truth or who we are.

      Again, thanks for your last sentence. It made my day and warmed my heart 🙂

      Cheers,
      Maria

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Success Advice

You Don’t Have To Listen To Every Bit Of Career Feedback. Some People Just Don’t Get You And That’s Fine!

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I recently got rejected from what I thought was a fantastic career opportunity. I was told that I was “Not entrepreneurial enough.”

Those that know me well know that it’s probably one of the few things I’m good at. Many of my mentors who I told this story to laughed out loud.

These three words were career feedback and I was always led to believe that to ignore this feedback would be ignorant and stupid.

I pondered that thought for a few days and then had a revelation: “I don’t have to listen to every bit of feedback I get.”

 

Pissed off is a natural first reaction.

That’s how I felt after someone told me I was crap at the very thing I love and have dedicated most of my time to. Our brain wants to be angry and fight back. Our first reaction, though, is often not what we should pay attention to.

“Empty space and time to reflect is how we process career feedback for what it really is: an opinion”

Don’t let your first reaction dominate how you think about the feedback. Maturity that can come at any age will show you to question everything – even your reaction.

 

Some people just don’t get you.

You’re not their type, they don’t like you, you speak a different language or you may have different values. Not everyone is going to get you and what you stand for and that’s okay. In my case, I didn’t connect.

Buying into the circus that is me is not for everyone. If you don’t like vulnerability or breaking comfort zones, then you probably won’t like me.

If you’re not obsessed with big goals, doing the impossible and trying to improve just a little bit every day, then you probably won’t like me.

That’s okay and I forgive you. I don’t have all the answers and I’m far from perfect – like the rest of us.

Learn to accept that some people will never get you and what you’re about.

That realization is how we overcome career feedback that we may not agree with.

 

Sometimes it’s any excuse. The real answer is something different.

Feedback can be disguised by the truth. The truth is maybe there was someone else the whole time and I never had a chance at this career opportunity. Maybe it wasn’t me at all.

Sometimes feedback is given because the real reason is much harder to deliver. It’s not easy to say “Tim, thanks but we hired someone else and you were never in the running.”

Admitting you never even had a chance is something many of us would never want to say. Being brutally honest takes courage, and courage is not everyone’s kind of kebab with garlic sauce on top, sprinkles and chili flakes.

 

We all get rejected.

I nearly forgot this fact. Everyone gets rejected. In fact, right now, someone is being rejected.

Rejection is not limited to you and me; learning to deal with it will only help us, not hinder our ability to achieve success in any field.

“We’ve all got 99 problems and thinking you’re special will only create more pointless thoughts that won’t serve you or your goals”

 

You’re responsible.

The thing about career feedback is that you have to take responsibility. Maybe in my case, I didn’t deliver the message of how obsessed and skilled I am at entrepreneurship. Maybe I could have done a better job at explaining my entrepreneurial background and passion.

It’s highly likely that I am entrepreneurial enough for this career opportunity and that it’s not a lack of skill at play here but a lack of effective communication.

“Responsibility always trumps the blame game and it helps us grow more as a person”

 

There’s always one lesson.

Mine was to develop more skills in strategy.

Let’s stop for one second: I hate the word strategy. The other career feedback I got was to do more strategy yet that’s not a skill of mine and I have no desire to do lots of that in my career.

The key here is that there’s always a lesson from all feedback and it might not be the intended lesson that the giver left you with.

There’s either a great lesson in the feedback or a reminder in the feedback of what you stand for. Don’t let any feedback compromise your values and who you are.

 

You are good enough.

You just have to believe in yourself and eventually, the right opportunity will find you.

Don’t give up your hopes and dreams because of one rejection. Interrupt the story in your head that plays on repeat and focuses on anger towards another person.

Replace that story with thoughts of how you can do better and get to the next opportunity.

Through rejection and bad career feedback, you find your way to what you’ve always wanted. That’s the hack and it works.

I’m off to suck up the rejection and take my own advice. Much respect.

If you want to increase your productivity and learn some more valuable life hacks, then join my private mailing list on timdenning.net

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Success Advice

6 Important Lessons That Will Lead You to Success

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success

Failure is a part of life and it’s nothing to be ashamed of because the most highly successful people are the ones who have experienced failures the most in their life. The general public usually learns about people and their work when they become successful but only a handful of people know about the immense struggles that those people have gone through. Unfortunately, we do not have the stories of their failures to which we can relate our own setbacks and this is why we perceive failure to be a bad thing.

People are afraid of failure because, from a very young age, they are taught that making mistakes and being wrong is a bad thing so when a person suffers from a failure, it’s possible for that person to experience some form of depression. It is important for you to understand failure is a way for you to learn and move on from the experience. It is literally impossible to live life forever without failing at something, unless you live your life so carefully that you forget to live at all.

Here are 6 lessons that you should embrace that will change in your life:

1. Keep Your Expectations Low

When it comes to life, people often expect things like family, business, and marriage to be constant and consistent throughout the years. However, this is not the case because life is not that simple and there are always ups and downs which you need to confront.

Having low expectations is totally understandable and justifiable but having high expectations from relationships and businesses could prove to be harmful if those things don’t last forever. In addition to this, keeping your expectations low helps you accept whatever comes from the situation. High expectations tend to result in disappointment, pain, and loss, so it’s better for you to have low expectations, yet continue to work hard with what you are doing.

2. Acknowledge the Change

Most of the time, people think they may not experience change at all in their life because they are expecting things to last forever, but little do they know that change is always waiting to take place and can happen at any point in time. Acknowledging change means you’re fully aware of the situation and this will help when change occurs and you move from the stage of shock to acceptance.

“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.” – Charles Darwin

3. Accept the Change

The acceptance of change can be difficult and you might resist it at first, but you need to understand the fact that accepting the change will help you make the necessary adjustments that you need in your life. Preventing and stopping the change from happening can prove to be disastrous for you because you are rejecting the fact that the situation has changed and are still living in the past.

Things turn out to be different from the way you expected them to be and this is completely  fine because you will be able to deal with the change more effectively by embracing the new situation.

4. Learn from Your Past

Once you accept the change and are ready to embrace it, it will start making sense and you will find lessons from which you can learn a lot. It is important to learn from your previous mistakes because learning and moving on eliminates the probability of you making those mistakes again in future.

5. Grow Stronger than Before

Accepting, embracing and learning from the change makes you stronger and better than you were in the past. The ability to learn from your past makes you a better person who is able to deal with the changes more easily and is able to move on without having any regrets in life. Moreover, this change will take away the fear of making new adjustments in life.

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” – Bob Goff

6. Acknowledge the Wisdom and Embrace it

The more you permit change to happen in your life, the better you grow as an individual. Embracing the wisdom will bring new found energy and strength into your life with inner peace and calmness. Embracing the change proactively and accepting it as a part of your life will result in you being calmer and stronger than ever. Change is not your enemy but the greatest teacher from whom you will learn most of your life lessons.

It is worth mentioning that during the process of accepting change, you need to be brutally honest with yourself because most people are in denial and fail to realize the real reason behind the change. It is insane to repeat the same mistakes again and again with the expectations of a different result. So, if you do not learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to fail again.

Failure can find you again, but if the situation is different from the previous one, then it’s just another experience. You need to stand up after you fall since you cannot stop problems from occurring in your life. What you can do is handle them in a more strategic way.

Problems are a part of your journey, however, the important thing is to keep your eyes on the final destination. Once you reach your final destination, you will realize that all those problems you faced were totally worth the success.

Failure is the one who falls and never stands back up. When you stand back up and keep on trying to achieve what you want, you’re not a failure but a winner in life. So, never lose hope and always look for the positive side, even in the toughest of situations because this is what successful people do.

How do you embrace change and keep pushing forward in life? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

5 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Happiness

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happiness

With so many demands on our time, energy, wallet from work, family and friends, figuring out what makes you happy and going after it can be a challenge. If you don’t prioritize your happiness, nobody else will. These five simple hacks will help you supercharge your happiness so you can avoid burnout, overwhelm, and going to that second cousin twice removed’s barbeque just because you “should.”

1. Schedule plenty of YOU time into your week

Let’s face it, most of our lives revolve around other people. Work, friends, spouses and partners, family, etc., the majority of our day requires us to interact with other people and that can be really exhausting. It’s important to schedule at least an hour a day – and more if you can – of YOU time into your calendar to take care of yourself.

Doing things that you enjoy, whether that’s listening to a podcast, reading, or working out, and doing them alone allows you to reconnect to who you are and have something positive to look forward to every single day.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” – Ludwig Jacobowski

2. Make “no” the most important word in your vocabulary

Making other people happy is something that we all want. It feels good to help someone out or make their lives easier. The problem is that we often sacrifice our own well-being when we say “yes” too much, especially for opportunities, work, or interactions that don’t personally fulfill us.

So whether it’s with friends, co-workers, or colleagues, learning to say no not only increases your productivity, but also your quality of life. When you set clear boundaries for the things that you don’t want and won’t accept, it leaves more room for the people and experiences that do make you happy. And remember: You don’t owe anyone an explanation if you say no to them.

3. Create a “shake the day off” routine

Even the happiest people go through stressful periods. One of the biggest issues that leads to serial unhappiness, burnout, and chronic stress is not having a release to clear out the stress that’s built up over the course of the day.

So once you’ve closed your laptop or walked through the door, it’s important to have a routine that you do that helps you get everything you’ve been bottling up off your chest. Whether that’s playing loud music and ranting for 10 minutes, spending 20 minutes with a partner where you both get to talk about the stresses of the day, or just putting on your favorite playlist and dancing it out, it’s crucial to give your mind and your body the opportunity to let go of stress on a consistent basis.

Having a place to channel negative emotion at the end of the day will help you move through the emotions, honor them, and not dwell on them incessantly. And if you had an absolutely amazing day, flip your routine on its head – spend 10 minutes celebrating.

4. Do a closet purge

Our closets hold a lot of memories – good and bad, and they tend to be where we hoard a lot of emotional baggage, both metaphorically and literally. Go through your closet and find your favorite outfits that you wear currently, whether it’s sweatpants and a t-shirt or a really well-tailored outfit, that’s your starting point.

Everything in your closet and drawers should make you feel that amazing. So get rid of any clothes that are too big or too small, any emotionally-charged pieces of clothing (for example, if you’ve still got your wedding outfit after a divorce, donate it), or anything that doesn’t represent who you are.

Your style is an opportunity to make a statement about who you are and the clothes you wear should boost your mood. Even if you’re a minimalist, you should be proud of the quality of your pieces and how they fit.

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Dale Carnegie

5. Get up close and personal with your bank account every day

Money doesn’t buy happiness, but it does give you options. So many people have a fear of money and they avoid it like the plague. Checking their bank balance is their least favorite to do, they hate paying bills, and they avoid opening mail or screen phone calls to make sure it’s not the bank.

Facing the reality of your money situation, whether it needs fixing or it’s great, will only help you improve it. You can also seek the advice of a financial planner at your bank to help you with this and create a plan to shift your situation. You might have more options available than you know.

Getting clear about the gap between your spending and your income can help push you to start looking for that job or new opportunity that you’ve been procrastinating on. Tracking your finances on a daily or weekly basis can help you come up with creative solutions to make more money and provide yourself with more options for financial freedom.

Maybe you’re paying for cable, Netflix, and Hulu, but it’d be more cost effective to just get Netflix and HBO Go because that’s all you ever watch anyways. You’ll never know where more options are hiding until you get up close and personal with the reality of your financial situation.

Comment below with the happiness-boosting tip that you’ll be implementing today!

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Success Advice

5 Goal-Setting Myths That Are Busted Once and for All

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goal setting myths

Brian Tracy said it a long time ago “People with clear, written goals accomplish far more in a shorter period of time than people without them can ever imagine.” Today, it’s scientifically proven that people with goals are more successful.  

Why? Because, setting goals will drive you to take action. Having clearly defined goals is like having a GPS System leading the way. But to be led, first you have to know where you want to go. And let’s be honest the vast majority of us don’t have even the slightest idea of where to start to make our dreams come true.

If you decide to join the 3% to 5% of people who set daily, weekly and quarterly goals, take it one step at a time and remain flexible, then over time, you can achieve things that you couldn’t even imagine before.

Lets start by busting 5 goal-setting myths:

1. Your goals have to be S.M.A.R.T.

Not true. It might be better to have smart goals, but simply having goals and writing them down already sets you apart from around 97% of people who don’t have them. My first goal which was starting my whole process about five years ago was to read more. Not a smart goal because it was not specific, measurable, or time-bound, but enough for a start. I went from not reading any books in five years to reading one book per week.

My five-year goal was “Write a book.” Again not a smart goal, but 4 1/2 years later I’m a bestselling author with more than 180,000 sales and downloads on Amazon, my books have been translated into Japanese, Korean, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Indonesian, etc. and I’m currently working on my seventh book. This is proof your goals don’t have to be SMART.

“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” – Bill Copeland

2. You have to set realistic goals

What is realistic? If I had told people a couple of years ago: “In two years I’m going to be a bestselling author, I’m going to be on TV, radio, and my books will be read around the world”, chances are I’d rather have ended up in a madhouse than on the Amazon Bestseller list.

So it depends. If you tend to beat yourself up for not reaching your goals, then I would advise you to set smaller, more realistic goals. For example, if you set the goal of earning $100,000 USD a year and end up earning $97,000 USD and then beat yourself up feeling like a failure, I recommend you to set small, realistic goals.

If you are like me and always celebrate how far you have come even if you didn’t reach your goals, then set huge unrealistic goals. You want to earn $150,000 USD a year? Great, but if you only get to $50,000 USD in the first year, celebrate it. It’s better than $40,000. Analyze what went wrong, make a new plan and go for the $150,000 USD next year.

3. You have to reach all your goals

Actually, you don’t. I dare to bet that if you reach 50% of the goals you set, your life will be so much better, than not setting goals at all. Again, this depends on your personality. If you are a perfectionist, you might want to learn this kind of approach. In the last two years, I have only reached 40-50% of my goals, but it was by far the two best years of my life. I celebrated the goals I reached, and the goals I didn’t reach were discarded or turned into new goals for next year.

4. Reaching your goals will make you happier

Again, not true. Reaching your goals will not make you happier. It will only give you temporary highs before you go back to your base-level of happiness and set new goals. Goals properly understood will make you happier. It’s not the attaining of the goal that leads to happiness, it’s the having of the goal that leads to happiness. The role of your goals is to liberate us to enjoy the present.

If you go on a road trip and don’t know where to go or don’t have a destination, you are less likely to enjoy the present moment because every minute you have to look around. Every crossroads or turn you reach becomes an important decision. This is stressful. If you know where you are going, you have a sense of direction. You will feel liberated.

You are much more likely to enjoy the process, the environment, the landscape or the proverbial “flowers on the side of the way.” Not only that, if you have a clear sense of direction, you are much more likely to be happy. We need a goal for future orientation so that we can enjoy the present more

5. Having goals will make your more successful

Although science has shown that people who set goals are generally more successful, because they are more focused, having goals will not make you more successful. Many have people have goals and dreams and never reach them. They might even have written them down and try to use the “Law of Attraction” to reach their goals.

There is only one problem, nobody reaches their goals sitting on the sofa and imagining good things to happen. The most important ingredient is missing: TAKING ACTION. Having goals and working your butt off to reach them will make you more successful.

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

I meet many people that have no goals and are happy. That’s totally okay. There is a time for everything. If you don’t have goals and are happy…keep on not having goals. No need to change what’s working, you will know when the time comes. Just listen very closely to the “I don’t need goals. I’m happy without goals” voice because comfort and fear talk the same talk.

Keep in mind that if you want to have an even better life, go set some goals, write them down and start working on them. It will be worth it.

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