These are difficult times. Whether you are an entrepreneur, an employee or a freelance writer or artist, life can be summed up in four words, “Present imperfect; future tense.”

Though your life may seem to be an uphill struggle without any end in sight, don’t be depressed. You have the power to achieve your goals and build a successful life by following these three steps:

1. Make your future bigger than your past

“The significant problems we face cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.” Albert Einstein

In these difficult times, you can choose to build your own future based on your vision and goals, one step at a time. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed by the challenges in your life. However, you can overcome all the problems in your life if you step outside yourself, broaden your horizons and dare to dream big.

Nelson Mandela is a great example of a leader who led the movement for a paradigm shift from antagonism to reconciliation in South Africa. He spent 26 years in prison for his opposition to apartheid. However, after his release in 1990, he declared he had been fighting against racialism for 50 years and would not change his policy. He helped President F.W. De Klerk to make a peaceful transition to black majority rule for which they jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993. Mandela became President of South Africa in 1994 and ensured that stability and reconciliation prevailed in South Africa rather than vengeful retribution or civil war.

2. Develop the power of a positive attitude

Ability is what you are capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz

The first essential step in achieving your biggest goals is to develop a positive attitude. You may not be able to change your past or your present circumstances but you can choose to change your attitude. When you develop a positive attitude, you not only see life differently, but life itself becomes different.

“The greatest discovery of our generation is that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” William James

A positive attitude is the best way to empower yourself. You can use it to overcome every challenge. This is best exemplified by Michael Jordan’s words, “I can accept failure, but I can’t accept not trying.” Best of all, a positive attitude is contagious; you can’t help but share your positivity with others.

3. Become a student of the lifetime learning school

“As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” Seneca

One of the most important components of a positive attitude is the ability and willingness to learn from failure. This is best illustrated by Edison’s famous quotation about his attempts to invent the electric light globe: “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”

Learn to regard every experience, every event, and every person in your life as your teacher. This is what Mark Twain meant when he said he had never let his schooling interfere with his education.

When you become a student of the lifetime learning school, it helps you to deal more effectively with unpleasant people. All you have to do is to bear in mind these words of Kahlil Gibran: “I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strangely I am ungrateful to those teachers.”

To succeed, believe in yourself and your dreams. Think big and learn from your experiences. Focus on your goals and never give up. Finally, share your vision with others because, in the words of Albert Einstein, teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

16 November 2011

Rohi Shetty is a medical doctor, Vipassana meditator, writer, editor, translator and blogger. His short stories and articles have been published online and in print.

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