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Many people have gone through this process of self-discovery at various ages. Sometimes it hits us when we’re 20, 36, or 86. But each person I’m sure stumbles through it differently. Here’s what I discovered and what’s helped me:
- Write a personal mission statement and keep it open in your browser and read it slowly every morning. Revise it as often as you see fit and try to minimize the number of items to establish an essence of who you are.
- Get rid of things that aren’t essential to your life. Simplify.
- Eliminate as many stressful things as possible. Do meaningful things that make you happy and relaxed, like massages and hikes in the woods. Give yourself a break.
- Eliminate people and things that make growth difficult.
- Spend much less time looking at screens and more time reading books.
- Spend a ton of time alone reading books that provide a little insight into life. I’ve found waking up a little early and reading something nice is a great way to start your day. Anyway, time at night would be good too. The point is, just read enlightening books and eliminate distractions when reading.
- Write. I created my own private tumblr that I’m treating like a diary adding my own writing but also anything that I find insightful, like passages from the books I’m reading. I want all of this stuff to be in the same place. And I also want to be able to read through it and see progress and reminders.
- Write down the qualities you find attractive in a person. Read them a few times a week.
- Go out with friends that talk about real issues and ones that you trust for good, objective advice.
- Have a glass or two of wine but not much more.
- Be consistently kind to everyone.
Here are the books I’ve read this year that have helped sculpt my philosophy on life:
- The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm (the best, by far)
- King, Warrior, Magician, Lover
- The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
- The Road Less Traveled
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
I’ve found that I love the classic self-help books. If you haven’t read them, I encourage you to do so. They just may change your life. But most importantly, 2012 taught me the importance of a team and artfully creating your world around you to optimize that team, whether that team is at work or at home. And difficult times are by far the most enlightening. I never run away from a challenge. Never have. Never will. And starting 2013, I’m a much happier, wiser man who has so much optimism inside it hurts. Life is grand, isn’t it?