3 Steps for Winning at Life
When you were younger, did you dream of having a life with everything? Your dream job, money up to your ears, the perfect woman, the works? If you have all of that, congratulations. Unfortunately, most of us haven’t achieved that. But not having everything you ever wanted doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful, fulfilling life. I would like, without being pretentious, to present three tips to help make your life more victorious. Now, I don’t claim to implement these steps perfectly, and I don’t claim to have a perfect life, but I have found great joy in my life in those instances when I have implemented them, and I guarantee that your life will feel more fulfilling if you implement them. I would like to present them as tools, with which you can do as you wish, as opposed to imposed tenets. But without further ado, let’s examine the first step to winning at life.
1. Start Resolutions Now!
The first tip is about resolutions themselves. The difference between winners and losers is that winners start their resolutions now. When you make a resolution, in some way, large or small, force yourself to begin it. If your resolution is to start working out, drop down and do some pushups. While doing 20 or so pushups is nothing in the grand scheme of things, it helps to cement in your mind the resolution. From then on, when you think of your resolution to work out, your mind will not only thing of the toned body you are striving for, but recall the feeling of that “first workout”. No longer will working out be something you need to start doing, but rather something you merely need to continue, seeing as you’ve already started. And this applies to any sort of resolution, whether athletic, spiritual, professional, or academic. Knowing that you’ve already begun helps you to continue. The difference between having never done something and having done it once is much greater than the difference between once and twice, or twice and three times, etc. The moral of the story is that forcing yourself to do something once will help you do it more easily and often in the future. Later on, I’ll discuss something called the Heroic Minute, which can be applied to this tip.
2. Find a passion
The second “life lesson” is to find something in your life that you enjoy doing for its own sake. Not something you do for self-betterment necessarily, or something you do to please others, but something that you find joy in, in and of itself. For some, this is mountain climbing, for others, photography, for others, skateboarding, etc. Finding this will give you something to pour your dead hours into. It will give you something to look forward to at the end of the day or week. Science shows that having an active hobby, like painting, music, or sports is far more beneficial to your overall happiness and development than a passive hobby, such as binging on Netflix or spending hours on social media, no matter how fun and easy these are. This isn’t to say that Netflix or Instagram are entirely bad, but they are only beneficial when coupled with a real, active hobby.
Another less discussed benefit of having a hobby is the communal aspect. One of the most enjoyable parts of being a skateboarder, photographer, mountain climber, etc. is being able to share your experiences with other people that care about them and really understand them. Getting to know other people who also participate in your hobby helps give you incentive to continue to improve and innovate. It’s also a great way to make friends, connections, and just enjoy your life more. Some of the closest friendships I’ve found are with those who share my passions.
3. Just Do It
The third and final step is to just do it. Sometimes, the only thing left in between you and success or victory is just conquering your fears for 10 seconds, and going for it. Here are two examples from my own life that I hope will help illuminate the point.
The first is when I learned to do a front flip. I was at the beach with some friends, and having decided the week previous that I really wanted to be able to do a front flip, I decided right then and there that I would do it. I spent two minutes standing in the sand, looking down the beach, afraid of trying. Mustering up the courage, I sprinted forward, jumped, spun, and landed the front flip. It was all over in a mere 10 seconds. All that I had to do was conquer myself for 10 seconds, no more. Sometimes we convince ourselves that the effort required is monumental in time and risk, and that we couldn’t possibly do something, but more often than not, we are just too scared to try.
The second example is the flip side of the coin, no pun intended. Back in high school, I had a crush on a girl for three and a half years, and I never said anything. Every night, I went to bed thinking of her, and for a long time, was depressed because of this. This was all because I never sucked it up and went for it. Everyone’s been rejected plenty of times, and though it might hurt in the moment, that pain fades. The regret of never talking to this girl haunted me for years. That experience changed me. I set myself a challenge never to feel that pain again. Every time there was something I could do, I did. When I made this resolution, my life became so much more fulfilling. No longer did I have to dream of doing something, I got to revel in its accomplishment. Sure, there were times when I failed, and it hurt. But every time I did give an effort, I got to spare myself that regret of never trying.
“The pain of failure stings sharply in the moment, yet fades quickly, but the pain of regret haunts like a dull throbbing sometimes for years.”
The Spanish author Josemaria Escriva wrote about something called the Heroic Minute. The Heroic Minute is conquering your body and mind for just one minute. Escriva maintains that the way to changing your life at large is by conquering yourself for just one minute at a time. Almost everyone can keep a resolution for one minute at a time, and doing this builds will power and self control. The most common example of this is getting up in the morning. Instead of lazing around in bed for 20 minutes to an hour, try getting up within one minute of waking up. While this may seem difficult or nigh on impossible at first, it will give you more energy throughout the day, and a real sense of discipline and self mastery.
A more concentrated application of the Heroic Minute is the Ten Second Challenge. Any time there is something you want to do, and it only takes 10 seconds to try, do it. No matter how much it scares you, the times you succeed will make you forget those times you fail. If you can conquer your fears for ten seconds, you will accomplish a lot of things you never thought you could. To sum it all up, the three steps are:
1. Start Resolutions Now
2. Find a Passion
3. Just Do It
Winning is achieving victory, and victory is achieving a goal (no sports pun intended). Therefore, anything you can do to help yourself begin to achieve your goals will make you more successful. I hope that these “lessons” help you in the same ways as they have myself. If lived well, they can change your life and give greater feelings of contentment, fulfillment, and ultimately, victory.