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Success Advice

The 5 Hard Truths About Chasing Success

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Harvey Specter Suits

There are certain things in life that are inarguably true. Many of these truths are fairly harsh and unforgiving, but yet, they are truths.

Benjamin Franklin is famous for saying:

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

These hard truths of life are the elements which will have great impact. Knowledge of these will help some individuals gain the perspective they need to push themselves into the success state of mind, yet will force the rest to become so scared that they will never aim to be extraordinary.

The interpretation of these truths is what separates the wolves from the sheep.

 

1. You are going to die

There is nothing to lose in this life, because everything is fleeting and will eventually end.

The guy who makes a bunch of bad decisions and spends his life in and out of prison is going to achieve the exact same outcome as the guy who lives a typical, conservative life, and the guy who chases his huge ambitions and is admired by the masses: death.

Death is the common denominator, so what really matters is what you do in the time that is given to you. We all have this little window of opportunity in which we get to do whatever we want. We can choose a path of joy, success, achievement, or we can pursue the easy road of contentment, boredom, and mediocrity.

It’s up to you.

Death is certain.

 

2. Nothing you care about matters

Along the same lines of the gloomy topic of inescapable death, you’re the only one who really cares about your story– your highs, your lows and your experiences. Thinking that the things you get caught up on every day have any sort of importance on any level higher than your own consciousness is the fastest way I know to lose direction and sacrifice true happiness.

Decide whether or not you’re going to be one of those people who do great things with their time on this earth and if so, stop worrying about anything except that, because you will just end up being a sad little lost creature, floating aimlessly through a dull reality waiting for the blessing of death to be granted by “Father Time”.

 

3. Reality is a safety net, built by the people who had the balls to build it

Something that has really helped me to gain some perspective and to think positively about my path to success, is to imagine life and our reality as a wedding reception, with our legacy being the wedding “guest book.” Some people in attendance (of this thing we call life) are going to simply float by and occupy themselves with socialising and drinking–so much distraction that they forget to sign the book.

Others will write a short one-line message with no real substance–a message so generic it may as well have been stock printed on the guest book to begin with. But a select few will leave a message so honest and meaningful that it will bring any bride to tears and inspire her to live life to the fullest and to love truly and wholly.

This wedding metaphor demonstrates the varying levels of impact each individual can have on the world around them. Build the right kind of reality by being bold, unique, and courageous. Otherwise, your contributions are easily forgotten or written off, or may not even show up in the record books.

Hunger Games Picture Quote

 

4. Searching for meaning will destroy you

If I’m lucky, I have another sixty or seventy years in which I can pursue my earthly desires and do the things that bring me happiness and fulfilment. On the other hand, I have eternity to spend floating through the spirit world, if such a thing does exist. So I am not going to spend my time on earth trying to become closer to the spirit world. I already have a one way ticket, and I guess I will just figure it out once I get there.

The hippies are wrong. Sitting under a tree and thinking about the meaning of life is not going to help you find it. There is no such things as one meaning of life, we all have our own version and meaning, and we should stop thinking about it because in doing so, you are missing out on living it. Get excited to make the most of your conscious time on this giant rock floating through the universe and do whatever makes you happy without intentionally hurting others. That’s all you need to know. There is literally no other reason to be here that you are ever going to find during your lifetime.

 

5. Being ordinary will get you nowhere. Take risks

Imagine your life is a gymnastics competition and it’s your turn on the beam. You have a small amount of time to prove to the judges that you believe in being the best and that you have perfected your craft. You need to impress them. Some people are sure to crumble under pressure and forget all the training and hard work they have put in, as their fear prevents them from performing fully. Others are going to reach only about 20% of their potential, performing only the stunts that are “safe” : those that know they can land because they have done them successfully for years, but they are not really the challenging manoeuvres.

Then you have the ones who stayed up until 2am the night before practicing the stunts they hardly know, but will break new ground and prove themselves to be absolute champions. The last group of gymnasts know that they could fail hard by over rotating and landing on their face in humiliation, but they are willing to risk it anyway because the reward is worth it.

Think about life like that and I think about which gymnast you would rather be.

……

 

Benjamin Franklin once said something of relevance to this that I’d love to quote for you:

“But our great security lies, I think, in our growing strength…for there is much truth in the Italian saying, Make yourselves sheep, and the wolves will eat you.”

These 5 unerring truths presented to you are here to let you know whether you’re going to be a sheep (following the crowd, traveling the safe path, clinging to normalcy and mediocrity) or a wolf (powerful, strong, bold, courageous, and without a care for what others think.)

The only thing in life that matters is following your dreams, and becoming the things you aspire to become.

Do things that make you happy.

You are here to achieve your dreams and to manifest a new reality out of pure imagination.

In your short time on this earth, I suggest you follow the path of the wolf, and you’ll find that these truths aren’t a bad thing, but will propel you onwards toward a rich, rewarding life of success and true fulfilment.

 

Feature Image: Harvey Specter | Suits

 

Matthew Ozolins is an Executive Director and Co-founder of Webics, which is a rapidly expanding online marketing agency based in Australia. Matthew is passionate about using online marketing strategies to help businesses reach their full potential. This passion is matched only by his passion for instilling in people the idea that regardless of where you come from, it is possible to achieve anything you want and be anyone you want. You can follow Matthew on Twitter or Facebook

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Anthonia

    Feb 23, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    I really liked the rawness, simplicity and honesty of this article. Massively puts things into perspective. Thank you.

  2. Seema

    Jun 19, 2014 at 4:01 am

    wow! thanks for the kick-ass facts

  3. Joel Annesley

    Jun 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Thanks Matthew. Wow, certainly no sugarcoating here! It’s direct, but I love it! I really enjoyed what you said about not worrying about stuff unless its related to doing great things with your time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minor details of things that really don’t matter.

  4. Kelli

    Jun 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Hi Matthew
    I really enjoyed reading this article and your perspective. You have a very blunt style of writing, and it resonates with me. I agree with much of what you said. I especially agree with number 5–there is so much possibility and so many people squander the opportunity to do so much more because of a limited mindset, fear of being ‘different’ and what others will think, and a bunch of other junk. I know how fortunate I am to have been born into a life where shaping an ideal reality is not as much of a struggle as people who were born into circumstances where the main focus is mere survival and enduring all kinds of suffering that I can’t imagine. I just do my best to make the most of life and be true to myself.

  5. Reader

    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Not true at all. I like this website alot, but this article is the worst I’ve read. The fact that everybody is going to die, means there is no real value in this life. I absolutely agree that we should make the best of our lives, but not with the idea of being a wolf or a successfull person who only cares about his own goals without hurting others. A wolf does not even care about others. A wolf eats the poor sheep without any mercy, unless you believe in fairy tales. People are like animals and flowers. They should fullfill their goal of life like animals do everything ensure their existence and like flowers do by shining getting all the needed sunlight and nutrition from the ground to become a beautiful flower. Then, they will die, like people do. But people are different. They are here to be good and succeed in the eyes of God. So there is something to lose here in life. The most unscientific thing is to say that “we shall see what will be after we die”. We as humans have the right to know and fortunately we can. Study the three religions (judaism,Islam and Christianity) and find the truth for yourself. I found it in Islam. The religion that tells you that you should make the best out of your life because you can, but without losing scope that you will die and stand in front of God’s judgement that will either punish you or reward you with Paradise where you reeaalllyy have nothing to lose, because you are never going to die. God gave us this tiny earth to live on with so many advantages we take from, but yet we are depended on something we cannot even see, which is oxigen. We depend on a invisible ozon layer that projects us from the burning sun. And it floats without bars. We depend on invisible things. How funny, yet scary. All readers on this beautiful website seeks for success and I am no different. But succes is not to be measured in money or a certain life standard. Think again and again and again. Thanks for reading.

    • Matthew Ozolins

      Jun 9, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Hey Mate,

      I don’t align myself with any religion, but I don’t think that decision is in any way connected with my ability to succeed on earth. In fact, I tend to lean towards the idea that in the modern world we can each be the god’s own universe. As the creator of my own ideal universe I would also tend to condemn the idea of hurting others in order to benefit myself and my ambitions. The fact is though, Wolves eat Sheep. Not because they want the Sheep to feel pain, but because they are hungry and they want to survive. Typically, there are no animals out there trying to hunt Wolves for food and this is probably because they live and travel in packs. The readers on this website are Wolves. This is a Wolf Pack. A place where people who aspire to do great things are able to read awesome motivation and informative content and to start a conversation about the content with the other Wolves.

      Not all Wolves have to be Entrepreneurs, champion Athletes or successful musicians/actors. It is a state of mind that you possess long before you make any money and before anybody knows who you are. It’s about always believing in your own ability to progress in this world. It’s about being excited to do something. It’s about growth and learning.

      You’re only a sheep if you’re staying still. If you’re not progressing, growing or learning. If you’re life is so stagnant that you couldn’t even motivate yourself to run away from a predator and survive, you’re a sheep. That’s not to say that you have to continue living as a sheep. Becoming a wolf is a simple decision. The Wolves state of mind is not at all connected with money, fame or power but it is directly connected with true happiness.

      Love,
      Matthew Ozolins

  6. Koko

    Jun 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

    In my eyes, if you really take action about this harsh truth in this article, there is no way you are not going to be happy or successful in your lifetime, floating on a giant rock in space 🙂 Great article, we need more wisdom like this one, every day, forever and ever!

  7. Dan Western

    Jun 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    You absolutely nailed this on the head. Use the time you have well and don’t let anyone tell you your dreams can’t come true.

  8. Atldude

    Jun 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    “Almost everything: all external expectations, all pride all fear of embarrassment or failure. These tings just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
    – Steve Jobs

  9. Ryan Biddulph

    Jun 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    5 is the lesson Matt! Think big, act big and do not TAKE risks….GIVE yourself a chance 😉 Thanks!

  10. Luciano

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I really like your thinking Matthew. It remind us all to be bold as we have nothing to loose

  11. James Simwanza

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    WE WILL ALL DIE AT ONE POINT,WE COME WITH NOTHING,AND WITH NOTHING WE WILL RETURN.WHAT GOOD IS IN IT THEN THAN TO ENJOY LIFE,MAKING YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE AND LIVE LIFE IN YOUR OWN TERMS.SURE THIS IS A GREAT ARTICLE

  12. lordvito9

    Jun 5, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Great article. Thanks!!!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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Success Advice

What You Can Learn From My Ultimate “I Am Screwed” Moment.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Gold Chain

When I was 16 years old, I had the ultimate “I am screwed moment.”

Everything from this point on happened in slow motion. What I’m about to describe probably happened in the space of thirty minutes but it felt like five hours.

I was walking down the street with my buddy one night, eating a paddle pop ice cream. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of about twenty teenagers running towards us, dressed in black.

I instantly knew that something was up and as they got closer, we both realized we were screwed and there was nowhere to run to.

Seconds later the gang of teenagers came straight towards us as fast as they could.

“I got lucky and copped a baseball bat to the head. My friend wasn’t so lucky. He was repeatedly stabbed by several different people and there was blood everywhere.”

As I saw what happened to my friend, I knew I’d be next. I was hit so many times with the baseball bat that I was numb from the pain. Everything started to go white.

Then I heard a faint voice. The voice was calling my name out.

I listened to what the young man was saying and realized he was saying that his little brother knew me. All of a sudden, he put out his hand, lifted me off the ground and told me to run in the other direction, or I’d end up like my friend.

I somehow managed to get on my feet and run, but I was not giving up on my friend. I ran around the back of the shopping center that we were standing outside of and entered the building. I ran to the first security guard I saw and told them I needed help.

In my search to get help, miraculously, my friend had made it into the shopping center and he was being treated by a number of bystanders for his massive knife wounds.

I went over and spoke to him. He was okay and things looked better than I expected. I had about sixty seconds of calmness. Then I looked to my left.

Through the glass doors, I could see the same gang of teenagers running into the shopping center. Everyone including the two security guards ran in opposite directions.

My friend with his multiple knife wounds also ran and there were bandages everywhere as he made a run for it (I’m not even sure how he was able to move).

This time I was the unlucky one. I ran into the part of the shopping center that was closed for the night and three of the youths followed me. I’d never been so afraid because I saw what they did to my friend.

I ended up in the shopping centers food court and I hid in the darkness. I tried to control my breathing, but it was hard to silence the fear inside of me. I still remember the white Nike pants I was wearing and the bright red Sean John jumper I had on (I later discarded them because of the memory they left).

Again, through some kind of miracle, the three boys did not see me. They ran off in another direction and I stayed under the table.

The pain of my wounds started to set in. I knew deep down I was safe and so the fight or flight response was turned off. All of a sudden, moving and walking felt very painful.

I could feel broken bits of teeth in my mouth.


The aftermath.

After some time had passed, I manage to reconnect with my friend. By that time there was an ambulance on the scene and he managed to get his knife wounds treated. He got lucky and no vital organs were affected.

The next day I went to school and people could see I had gone through one hell of an ordeal. One of my friends in the year level below, came and found me and explained to me that it was his older brother and friends that attacked me.

They had mistakenly thought that we had come from a party, because of the direction we came from, where he was beaten up. He told me that because they had recognized me, to some degree, I was spared.

The story doesn’t end here though (I wish it did). Even after the brutal event, one of the attackers was still upset with me. I didn’t know why and it made no sense. I had multiple times where he and his friends were waiting for me in certain places and I was told they would harm me.

Through a mutual friend, I was able to resolve the conflict and I found out that a few of them were close friends with a few of my friends. In the coming years, I got to know my attackers.

“They were not the horrible violent people I encountered on that night. They slowly changed their ways and one of them has gone on to do extraordinary kind acts all over the world.”


A revelation from this “I am screwed” moment.

After this horrible event had occurred, I tried to make sense of it. I was not a violent person in any way but in a way, I had created this path for myself.

During my teenage years, I let rap music and violence dominate my life. I thought they were both cool.

The revelation from all of this was that I knew I had to change my life. I knew that the path I was on had led me to this moment and only I could change things. The next time an attack like this happened, I may not be as lucky.

I gave up rap music, I changed my group of friends, I started a business with my brother, I quit smoking and I disengaged from anything that was violent. Looking back, an “I am screwed” moment can be extremely valuable. It’s during these difficult times that we learn about who we are and what we can do to change our lives.

I would never have become obsessed with legacy, giving back and personal development if I hadn’t had this life or death experience.

I’m now fully aware of my mortality and I’m never going to take another day for granted.

Everything can change in a split second for better or for worse. What you do in that moment is up to you.

Nothing happens randomly (even this attack). Everything happens for a reason and when you ensure you get the lesson from it, you can go on to do extraordinary things.

I’m typing these words and reaching millions of people with them, partly because of this “I am screwed” moment.


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

3 Things We Can Learn About Success From a 13 Year Old Girls School Project

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Dog Do or Dog Don’t
Image Credit: Aiden Horwitz

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. So, when I read about a 13 year old that was solving a major problem in the dog adoption industry, I was intrigued. It turns out that many families often choose the wrong dog for their family and end up giving them up to a shelter.

When a school project came up, this young girl decided she would try to tackle the problem. First, she created a survey that would help potential dog foster parents determine which dog would be a good fit for them. Then, she teamed up with a local shelter who gave her information on the dogs. Finally, she added the survey to a website she built called Dog Do or Dog Don’t. So far, it’s seen success in just a few months by pairing 5 dogs with the perfect home.

Here are 3 important points we can learn about success from this little girl’s innovation:

1. Focus on your why

No matter what we do in life, we need to know why we are doing it. This girl didn’t care about the end result of making money or getting attention from local news channels. She wanted to solve a problem and her why was clearly defined. “I wanted to come up with a way to help get dogs adopted or help people get the right dog for them and their family,” she says on her website. That was her why and it drove her to the success of what she eventually created.

When we have a goal in life, we need to focus on why we want to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being successful in business, raising our family or traveling the world, we need to clarify why. Without passion behind what we are doing, the dedication required to achieve success is hard to come by. Only when we focus on our why will we really be on the path to success.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

2. Define what success looks like

It sounds simple when I say to define success, but oftentimes we don’t. We set goals of working out more or making more money or even adopting more dogs. However, if we don’t define what that actually means, it’s really hard to know when we have hit the success we are working toward.

Success can quickly become like a bully on the playground that draws a line and when you cross it, he draws another line. When that happens, it’s hard to understand what we have achieved and keep moving onto the next goal.

When this survey for the dog adoption was built out, the goal was to adopt a dog to the perfect home. Now that the goal has been achieved, it’s time to set another goal and keep moving forward. By defining success clearly, we can make sure that when we work our plan and hit our goal, we will know it. Then, we can define another goal and work toward that.

3. Do the important work

What I didn’t mention earlier was that this was actually called the “Passion Project” and they were given an hour and a half each week to work on something they were passionate about. She found her topic through research and discovered that about half the dogs at shelters were there because they were the wrong type for the family.

This girl didn’t do this for accolades or attention as she was focused on doing the important work on something she was passionate about. It was only then that she found the problem she could solve and decided it was important to do so.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Real world problems are all around us from financial issues to poverty to famine and much more. Often, we look at a problem and think to ourselves that it’s too big for us to solve or there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway.

This young girl has a lot to teach us about looking at a problem and finding a solution for it. We need to pay attention to the things she has taught us about achieving success by doing the important work which is close to our heart.

What do you think is the most important aspect to success? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop. (more…)

Dan Elias is passionate about helping people develop creative strategies for unlocking their potential. He is the director of marketing at Motivate, an app dedicated to helping people achieve their goals.

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13 Comments

13 Comments

  1. Anthonia

    Feb 23, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    I really liked the rawness, simplicity and honesty of this article. Massively puts things into perspective. Thank you.

  2. Seema

    Jun 19, 2014 at 4:01 am

    wow! thanks for the kick-ass facts

  3. Joel Annesley

    Jun 11, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Thanks Matthew. Wow, certainly no sugarcoating here! It’s direct, but I love it! I really enjoyed what you said about not worrying about stuff unless its related to doing great things with your time. It’s so easy to get caught up in the minor details of things that really don’t matter.

  4. Kelli

    Jun 9, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Hi Matthew
    I really enjoyed reading this article and your perspective. You have a very blunt style of writing, and it resonates with me. I agree with much of what you said. I especially agree with number 5–there is so much possibility and so many people squander the opportunity to do so much more because of a limited mindset, fear of being ‘different’ and what others will think, and a bunch of other junk. I know how fortunate I am to have been born into a life where shaping an ideal reality is not as much of a struggle as people who were born into circumstances where the main focus is mere survival and enduring all kinds of suffering that I can’t imagine. I just do my best to make the most of life and be true to myself.

  5. Reader

    Jun 9, 2014 at 1:02 am

    Not true at all. I like this website alot, but this article is the worst I’ve read. The fact that everybody is going to die, means there is no real value in this life. I absolutely agree that we should make the best of our lives, but not with the idea of being a wolf or a successfull person who only cares about his own goals without hurting others. A wolf does not even care about others. A wolf eats the poor sheep without any mercy, unless you believe in fairy tales. People are like animals and flowers. They should fullfill their goal of life like animals do everything ensure their existence and like flowers do by shining getting all the needed sunlight and nutrition from the ground to become a beautiful flower. Then, they will die, like people do. But people are different. They are here to be good and succeed in the eyes of God. So there is something to lose here in life. The most unscientific thing is to say that “we shall see what will be after we die”. We as humans have the right to know and fortunately we can. Study the three religions (judaism,Islam and Christianity) and find the truth for yourself. I found it in Islam. The religion that tells you that you should make the best out of your life because you can, but without losing scope that you will die and stand in front of God’s judgement that will either punish you or reward you with Paradise where you reeaalllyy have nothing to lose, because you are never going to die. God gave us this tiny earth to live on with so many advantages we take from, but yet we are depended on something we cannot even see, which is oxigen. We depend on a invisible ozon layer that projects us from the burning sun. And it floats without bars. We depend on invisible things. How funny, yet scary. All readers on this beautiful website seeks for success and I am no different. But succes is not to be measured in money or a certain life standard. Think again and again and again. Thanks for reading.

    • Matthew Ozolins

      Jun 9, 2014 at 4:00 am

      Hey Mate,

      I don’t align myself with any religion, but I don’t think that decision is in any way connected with my ability to succeed on earth. In fact, I tend to lean towards the idea that in the modern world we can each be the god’s own universe. As the creator of my own ideal universe I would also tend to condemn the idea of hurting others in order to benefit myself and my ambitions. The fact is though, Wolves eat Sheep. Not because they want the Sheep to feel pain, but because they are hungry and they want to survive. Typically, there are no animals out there trying to hunt Wolves for food and this is probably because they live and travel in packs. The readers on this website are Wolves. This is a Wolf Pack. A place where people who aspire to do great things are able to read awesome motivation and informative content and to start a conversation about the content with the other Wolves.

      Not all Wolves have to be Entrepreneurs, champion Athletes or successful musicians/actors. It is a state of mind that you possess long before you make any money and before anybody knows who you are. It’s about always believing in your own ability to progress in this world. It’s about being excited to do something. It’s about growth and learning.

      You’re only a sheep if you’re staying still. If you’re not progressing, growing or learning. If you’re life is so stagnant that you couldn’t even motivate yourself to run away from a predator and survive, you’re a sheep. That’s not to say that you have to continue living as a sheep. Becoming a wolf is a simple decision. The Wolves state of mind is not at all connected with money, fame or power but it is directly connected with true happiness.

      Love,
      Matthew Ozolins

  6. Koko

    Jun 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

    In my eyes, if you really take action about this harsh truth in this article, there is no way you are not going to be happy or successful in your lifetime, floating on a giant rock in space 🙂 Great article, we need more wisdom like this one, every day, forever and ever!

  7. Dan Western

    Jun 5, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    You absolutely nailed this on the head. Use the time you have well and don’t let anyone tell you your dreams can’t come true.

  8. Atldude

    Jun 5, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    “Almost everything: all external expectations, all pride all fear of embarrassment or failure. These tings just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”
    – Steve Jobs

  9. Ryan Biddulph

    Jun 5, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    5 is the lesson Matt! Think big, act big and do not TAKE risks….GIVE yourself a chance 😉 Thanks!

  10. Luciano

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    I really like your thinking Matthew. It remind us all to be bold as we have nothing to loose

  11. James Simwanza

    Jun 5, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    WE WILL ALL DIE AT ONE POINT,WE COME WITH NOTHING,AND WITH NOTHING WE WILL RETURN.WHAT GOOD IS IN IT THEN THAN TO ENJOY LIFE,MAKING YOUR DREAMS COME TRUE AND LIVE LIFE IN YOUR OWN TERMS.SURE THIS IS A GREAT ARTICLE

  12. lordvito9

    Jun 5, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Great article. Thanks!!!

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Success Advice

Instead of Always Trying to Be Right, Do This Instead

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stop trying to be right
Image Credit: Twenty20.com

A colleague of mine was obnoxious, over eager, and completely out of line. Yet, all of this was overshadowed by the fact he was just plain wrong. If he were to go through with it, it would derail the company by at least 6 months. Yet, arguing with him when he was in this state was of no use. While hitting him over the head with the laptop seemed appealing for a second, it was probably not a great long-term strategy for the business or my laptop.

Galileo once said, “You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.” This is especially true when it comes to emotionally charged matters and negotiations.

When you are right, you become attached to that idea. It’s so clear, how can they not see it? Yet, your meticulously clear logic might as well be written in braille as your focus intensifies on proving yourself right, instead of reaching an agreement.

Below are 3 ways you can step out of your emotions and help someone find the right answer when money and time are on the line:

1. Separate the Person From the Issue

Imagine if a four-year-old child was adamant about something. You wouldn’t try to reason logically for hours in such a case. When trying to speak through a person’s emotions, often you might have better luck with the four year old.

In order to break this barrier you must stop seeing them as the problem and see the issue at hand. Instead of seeing the other person as stupid or obnoxious, try viewing them as simply lost or misguided. The job now becomes not to prove them wrong, but to guide them to the truth. Adopting this mindset changes your entire approach as you get out of your own emotions and take control of the situation.

“Each of us guard a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside.” – Stephen Covey

2. Show Them A Mirror

Somewhere in between trying to hammer a point, both sides usually forget to listen. No matter the situation, you must make sure that person is never you. Instead, shift the focus from “me vs you” and make it completely about the other person. Really listen and validate their emotions, creating enough trust and safety to begin a real exchange. Make sure they feel heard and slow the conversation down. When you slow the process down, you also calm down.

Remember, it’s not what you say, but how you say it. About 93% of communication is nonverbal, thus maintaining your body language immediately provides an edge. A playful (not childlike or mocking) voice puts someone in a positive frame of mind, where they are more likely to collaborate and problem solve.

Always remember to repeat back the most important three words from their sentence and make them elaborate on whatever they said. The more a person is allowed to speak, the more they feel heard. The more they feel heard, the more open they are to receive new information.

3. Lead With Empathy, Not Sympathy

Taking the time to make sure the other side feels heard and understood does not mean you bend to their will. It does not mean you give up, agree, feel sorry for, or even compromise. Empathy is the ability to recognize another’s perspective and the vocalization of that recognition. This is the difference between empathy and sympathy.

When you can label a person’s emotions in an argument, you seize the chance to discover what is behind those feelings. As you begin to drill down, you gain leverage. This should be done very gracefully. Instead of saying, I think you’re angry and being stubborn, trying saying, It seems like you are feeling frustrated because you really care about this and wish it was moving along quicker.

“Sometimes all a person wants is an empathetic ear; all he or she needs is to talk it out. Just offering a listening ear and an understanding heart for his or her suffering can be a big comfort.” – Roy T. Bennett

Using labels, you mold their feelings into words, moving information from the emotional part of the brain to the rational. Whatever behavior a person may be presenting, there is always an underlying feeling triggering it. Your job is to make the person aware of that feeling. The faster you do this, the faster you eliminate the risk of a complete breakdown in communication.

After their emotions are labeled, asking how or why calibrated questions allow them to solve their problems for you. In order to do this effectively you don’t need to study every type of calibrated question there is, but rather adopt a specific mindset. You are not their opponent, but a guide, leading the lost to the truth. Your truth.

In my case, the presenting behavior of my colleague was an obnoxious know-it-all attitude. However, the underlying emotion was fear of falling behind. Once I was able to stop asking the question, “Why is he doing this to me?” and focus on looking deeper, the conversation took a turn. The conversation was no longer about my ideas versus his, but about him and his fear.

Instead of arguing with me, he spent the rest of the time, essentially, arguing with himself. After helping him dissect his fear in the rational part of the brain, he realized that many of the worst case scenarios were highly improbable and acting hasty might exacerbate things. Most importantly, at the end of the conversation, he said, “I think I made the right choice.”

He believed that the decision was entirely his. He never acknowledged the fact that I was right and announced to everyone the sudden spark of genius that hit him. Yet, at the end of the day you need to ask yourself what is more important to you; being right or doing whatever it takes to win.  

How do you handle conflict? Let us know your tips and advice in the comments below!

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Success Advice

What You Can Learn From My Ultimate “I Am Screwed” Moment.

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Image Credit: Unsplash / Gold Chain

When I was 16 years old, I had the ultimate “I am screwed moment.”

Everything from this point on happened in slow motion. What I’m about to describe probably happened in the space of thirty minutes but it felt like five hours.

I was walking down the street with my buddy one night, eating a paddle pop ice cream. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a group of about twenty teenagers running towards us, dressed in black.

I instantly knew that something was up and as they got closer, we both realized we were screwed and there was nowhere to run to.

Seconds later the gang of teenagers came straight towards us as fast as they could.

“I got lucky and copped a baseball bat to the head. My friend wasn’t so lucky. He was repeatedly stabbed by several different people and there was blood everywhere.”

As I saw what happened to my friend, I knew I’d be next. I was hit so many times with the baseball bat that I was numb from the pain. Everything started to go white.

Then I heard a faint voice. The voice was calling my name out.

I listened to what the young man was saying and realized he was saying that his little brother knew me. All of a sudden, he put out his hand, lifted me off the ground and told me to run in the other direction, or I’d end up like my friend.

I somehow managed to get on my feet and run, but I was not giving up on my friend. I ran around the back of the shopping center that we were standing outside of and entered the building. I ran to the first security guard I saw and told them I needed help.

In my search to get help, miraculously, my friend had made it into the shopping center and he was being treated by a number of bystanders for his massive knife wounds.

I went over and spoke to him. He was okay and things looked better than I expected. I had about sixty seconds of calmness. Then I looked to my left.

Through the glass doors, I could see the same gang of teenagers running into the shopping center. Everyone including the two security guards ran in opposite directions.

My friend with his multiple knife wounds also ran and there were bandages everywhere as he made a run for it (I’m not even sure how he was able to move).

This time I was the unlucky one. I ran into the part of the shopping center that was closed for the night and three of the youths followed me. I’d never been so afraid because I saw what they did to my friend.

I ended up in the shopping centers food court and I hid in the darkness. I tried to control my breathing, but it was hard to silence the fear inside of me. I still remember the white Nike pants I was wearing and the bright red Sean John jumper I had on (I later discarded them because of the memory they left).

Again, through some kind of miracle, the three boys did not see me. They ran off in another direction and I stayed under the table.

The pain of my wounds started to set in. I knew deep down I was safe and so the fight or flight response was turned off. All of a sudden, moving and walking felt very painful.

I could feel broken bits of teeth in my mouth.


The aftermath.

After some time had passed, I manage to reconnect with my friend. By that time there was an ambulance on the scene and he managed to get his knife wounds treated. He got lucky and no vital organs were affected.

The next day I went to school and people could see I had gone through one hell of an ordeal. One of my friends in the year level below, came and found me and explained to me that it was his older brother and friends that attacked me.

They had mistakenly thought that we had come from a party, because of the direction we came from, where he was beaten up. He told me that because they had recognized me, to some degree, I was spared.

The story doesn’t end here though (I wish it did). Even after the brutal event, one of the attackers was still upset with me. I didn’t know why and it made no sense. I had multiple times where he and his friends were waiting for me in certain places and I was told they would harm me.

Through a mutual friend, I was able to resolve the conflict and I found out that a few of them were close friends with a few of my friends. In the coming years, I got to know my attackers.

“They were not the horrible violent people I encountered on that night. They slowly changed their ways and one of them has gone on to do extraordinary kind acts all over the world.”


A revelation from this “I am screwed” moment.

After this horrible event had occurred, I tried to make sense of it. I was not a violent person in any way but in a way, I had created this path for myself.

During my teenage years, I let rap music and violence dominate my life. I thought they were both cool.

The revelation from all of this was that I knew I had to change my life. I knew that the path I was on had led me to this moment and only I could change things. The next time an attack like this happened, I may not be as lucky.

I gave up rap music, I changed my group of friends, I started a business with my brother, I quit smoking and I disengaged from anything that was violent. Looking back, an “I am screwed” moment can be extremely valuable. It’s during these difficult times that we learn about who we are and what we can do to change our lives.

I would never have become obsessed with legacy, giving back and personal development if I hadn’t had this life or death experience.

I’m now fully aware of my mortality and I’m never going to take another day for granted.

Everything can change in a split second for better or for worse. What you do in that moment is up to you.

Nothing happens randomly (even this attack). Everything happens for a reason and when you ensure you get the lesson from it, you can go on to do extraordinary things.

I’m typing these words and reaching millions of people with them, partly because of this “I am screwed” moment.


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

3 Things We Can Learn About Success From a 13 Year Old Girls School Project

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Dog Do or Dog Don’t
Image Credit: Aiden Horwitz

Success comes in all shapes and sizes. So, when I read about a 13 year old that was solving a major problem in the dog adoption industry, I was intrigued. It turns out that many families often choose the wrong dog for their family and end up giving them up to a shelter.

When a school project came up, this young girl decided she would try to tackle the problem. First, she created a survey that would help potential dog foster parents determine which dog would be a good fit for them. Then, she teamed up with a local shelter who gave her information on the dogs. Finally, she added the survey to a website she built called Dog Do or Dog Don’t. So far, it’s seen success in just a few months by pairing 5 dogs with the perfect home.

Here are 3 important points we can learn about success from this little girl’s innovation:

1. Focus on your why

No matter what we do in life, we need to know why we are doing it. This girl didn’t care about the end result of making money or getting attention from local news channels. She wanted to solve a problem and her why was clearly defined. “I wanted to come up with a way to help get dogs adopted or help people get the right dog for them and their family,” she says on her website. That was her why and it drove her to the success of what she eventually created.

When we have a goal in life, we need to focus on why we want to achieve it. It doesn’t matter if it’s being successful in business, raising our family or traveling the world, we need to clarify why. Without passion behind what we are doing, the dedication required to achieve success is hard to come by. Only when we focus on our why will we really be on the path to success.

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” – Simon Sinek

2. Define what success looks like

It sounds simple when I say to define success, but oftentimes we don’t. We set goals of working out more or making more money or even adopting more dogs. However, if we don’t define what that actually means, it’s really hard to know when we have hit the success we are working toward.

Success can quickly become like a bully on the playground that draws a line and when you cross it, he draws another line. When that happens, it’s hard to understand what we have achieved and keep moving onto the next goal.

When this survey for the dog adoption was built out, the goal was to adopt a dog to the perfect home. Now that the goal has been achieved, it’s time to set another goal and keep moving forward. By defining success clearly, we can make sure that when we work our plan and hit our goal, we will know it. Then, we can define another goal and work toward that.

3. Do the important work

What I didn’t mention earlier was that this was actually called the “Passion Project” and they were given an hour and a half each week to work on something they were passionate about. She found her topic through research and discovered that about half the dogs at shelters were there because they were the wrong type for the family.

This girl didn’t do this for accolades or attention as she was focused on doing the important work on something she was passionate about. It was only then that she found the problem she could solve and decided it was important to do so.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

Real world problems are all around us from financial issues to poverty to famine and much more. Often, we look at a problem and think to ourselves that it’s too big for us to solve or there’s nothing that can be done about it anyway.

This young girl has a lot to teach us about looking at a problem and finding a solution for it. We need to pay attention to the things she has taught us about achieving success by doing the important work which is close to our heart.

What do you think is the most important aspect to success? Let us know in the comments below!

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Success Advice

How to 10X the Likelihood of Completing Your Next Big Project

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project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

According to Bob Proctor, you have a 95% chance of making personal change happen if you make a plan and set a specific time to share your progress with someone. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you only have a 10% chance of making a change if you say “that’s a good idea” to your next inspirational brain wave without doing anything else.

Now think about it, how many times have you thought “that’s a good idea” and been inspired to do something without actually pulling the trigger to take one single, simple step towards doing something? This is one of the biggest challenges standing in the way of people from achieving their fullest potential.

Here are 6 steps to help you jump-start your next project and take action right away:

1. Identify which ideas are actually good

Not all ideas are created equal, and not all ideas are worth pursuing. In fact, some ideas and goals should be actively avoided. Warren Buffett tells a story about having someone write out their top 25 career goals on a piece of paper. After looking at the list, he asks the individual to circle the top 5 goals on their list. After that, he tells the person that the 20 remaining goals should be “avoided at all costs” until the first 5 goals are met.

It is a mistake to think that you can split your energy in multiple directions and succeed at anything. Instead, focus on the top 2 or 3 things that are most important to you, and actively avoid anything that takes you away from pursuing those goals or ideas.

2. Tell yourself you will do something with this new idea

Once you’ve decided that something is important enough to pursue, make a point of telling yourself you will do something to further explore the idea. This doesn’t mean making a commitment to quit your day job to pursue a vague idea for a startup. Nor does it mean dropping everything to travel the world for 6 months. Rather, it means that you commit to looking into something to get a better idea of what’s involved before taking the leap on a project.

“Ideas are commodity. Execution of them is not.” – Michael Dell

3. Choose a deadline or create a window of time to get something shipped

Outline a specific window of time to accomplish something, and then write out that plan in a calendar. The most important thing is to make sure the deadline is reasonable and that you are realistic. If you make a goal to double your income and launch a new business in the next 12 months, you may find yourself becoming disheartened when things aren’t working out after 3 weeks. I typically choose to work on tasks and projects in 1-3 month sprints, at which point I check in and reevaluate my progress.

4. Outline a specific plan of action on how to do it based on the timeline you have created

I use a variety of tools to help plan out my tasks and remind myself what I’m supposed to be working on, but at the end of the day, the best tool I use to schedule activities is a simple Excel spreadsheet to track tasks on a day by day basis. Check out the book “12 Week Year” for some ideas on how to choose specific action items and tasks which will help you move the needle on your work.

“Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki

5. Make a commitment to accomplish something specific based on the timeline and plan

Now that you have spent the time to research your idea, develop a timeline for the idea and structured a plan with specific tasks to accomplish this idea. You must make a commitment to yourself to carry out the tasks on your list and to strive to complete everything on time.

This task is incredibly important because it requires that you tap into a deeper level of motivation that goes beyond acceptance by the group or fear of failure. Instead, you need to reach deep down and make a commitment based on a deep need to accomplish the task that goes beyond recognition.

6. Set a specific time to review and be accountable for your plan and progress with someone else

We all know that even the most powerful source of internal motivation may not be enough to keep you going when times get tough. This is why you should make a habit of meeting up with a friend, mentor or colleague to review your progress on a certain project and to get ideas on how best to proceed. Make this meeting at a time that you both agree on well in advance, be clear on the feedback you want, and then don’t miss your deadlines!

At the end of the day, taking action is perhaps the biggest deciding factor that will directly contribute to your success and your ability to achieve your goals. If you don’t act, you’re dead in the water. So make a commitment to yourself today to give this a shot.

Think this system would work for you? Let us know!

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