Your future tomorrow depends on the principles you use today
“We control our actions, but the consequences that flow from those actions are controlled by principles” — Stephen Covey
Self-made billionaire, Ray Dalio, attributes his success to a core set of principles, which he says, “serve as the foundations for behaviour that get you what you want out of life.”
Principles, however, are not just for the ‘Ray Dalio’s’ of the world.
On the 8th of October 2013, I experienced my first day clean after 15 years of chronic heroin addiction. Since then, I’ve become a keynote speaker, business owner, and lecturer at the top two universities in Ireland, all while pursuing a PhD in a subject that I love.
I’ve also recently acquired a book deal with a mainstream publishing house (to be released next spring), and I’ve just shot a pilot for a TV show concerning the tactics I used to change my life.
So what changed? How did I go from addict to PhD in the space of 6 years?
I developed a core set of principles for every aspect of my life. They have not only helped me to recover from addiction; they have helped me to thrive, providing the foundations for the amazing life I have today.
Here are 6 powerful principles that have helped me to simplify my life:
1. Practice consistency over intensity
Action gets you started, and intensity has its place, but consistency is the holy grail.
How do you keep fit? Jumping on a treadmill for ten hours won’t prepare you for a marathon. Only consistent exercise can do that.
How do you keep those pearly whites so clean? By visiting your dentist, or brushing your teeth every day?
It’s the same for anything worthwhile: eating healthy, building a business, personal development, and even relationships. If you want to see growth in these areas, you have to tend to them on a regular basis.
2. Keep all of your fires burning
I get easily excited by things I love. Sounds great, right? But this can lead me to ignore other important areas of my life.
I often get immersed in writing at the expense of my relationships. Some people focus on their career to the detriment of their health.
To stop this from happening, I assess each critical area of my life. This includes family, social, career, mind, health, and finance. If I’m ignoring any one of these areas, I throw a little spark on the fire, just to keep it smouldering until I can make more time.
3. Neutralize negativity
Negative people can literally suck the life right out of you, particularly those who like to blame, complain, condemn, and criticize.
Sometimes it’s best to remove yourself from the situation, but that’s not always possible. When this happens, I use negativity as fuel for growth.
If someone is being argumentative, I practice non-reactivity. If someone is being unreasonable, I use it as a chance to practice tolerance. If someone is acting out in unawareness, I use it as an opportunity to practice compassion. You can do it with anything if you focus on growth.
If you neutralize negativity from your life on a regular basis, you’ll see massive gains in your wellbeing and energy.
4. Prioritize and execute
Jocko Willink, former Navy SEAL commander and leadership expert, knows a thing or two about stressful situations. His principle of ‘ Prioritize and execute’ has helped me with many of life’s challenges.
When I feel overwhelmed, especially with work, I simply take a step back and assess the situation. I then choose the task that will have the biggest impact and execute it. When I complete the primary task, I move on to the next one, and then the one after that. When I implement this principle, I immediately have clarity, and I’m no longer overwhelmed.
5. Take relentless action
If nothing changes, nothing changes. This seems obvious, but many people expect change without ever taking action. They talk, but rarely act.
I like to take relentless action, which simply means taking action every single day. I meditate every day. I write every day. I practice gratitude every day. I work on my number one goal every day. I show up every single day.
If you implement this principle, you’ll see massive progress in your life.
6. Seek constructive feedback
This is not for everyone, but I ruthlessly seek out feedback to help me to see what I could be missing — for work and for life.
For work, when I’m knee-deep in a project, it’s it difficult to see the wood from the trees. So I simply ask a colleague: “What would you do differently?” or “What am I doing wrong?”
For life, if I feel like I’m veering off course, I ask someone I trust: “How do you see my limiting myself in life?” or “What part of the puzzle might I be missing?”
Not everyone is comfortable giving this kind of feedback, but when you find someone who is, the benefits are immense.
If you implement principles into your life, you will get closer to your goals every single day. Principles will also make your life much simpler. They will guide your actions in times of uncertainty and provide you with a road-map when life gets tough.
Covey got it dead right. We control our actions, but everything after that is controlled by principles.
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