Advice is a big factor in how I’ve handled situations. Advice from my parents, family, friends, colleagues, teachers, strangers, literally anyone. Some were useful for the moment and others didn’t resonate with me for longer than it took to say them out loud. Nevertheless, some have made a home in the back of my mind. Continuously popping up and reminding and guiding my every move.
In this article, I’m going to try and bring you along some of the advice I have been given.
Here are a few that have accompanied me throughout the years:
- “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it” – Ariana Huntington
- “There are no good or bad days, there are just days. You choose to make them good or bad. “- Insightful Unknown
- “Worrying is a lot like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere”- Glenn Turner
- “Are you bad at it or are you not good yet?”- Wise Unknown
- “Comparison is the thief of joy.”- Theodore Roosevelt
- “If you don’t have to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”-John Wooden
1. “Failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of it” – Ariana Huntington
Failing hurts, especially when you have been working day and night towards something only to end up failing at it anyway. But what is failure but a stepping stone to success? Yes, failure is defined as a “lack of success”, but is that really the case? Where would we be if we didn’t make mistakes? How do we expect to learn if we don’t stumble a few times at first?
Just like when we were learning to walk, we stumbled and fell a few times. But eventually, we practiced enough to be able to walk, hop, and run. Learn from your failures, try a different approach. What caused you to fail this time? Make a plan, follow that plan and see where it leads you. If it leads you to failure, remember, at least now you know one way to not approach this challenge. Have a positive outlook on failure and nothing can stop you. Think “I must fail to succeed”, and get out there!
After all, it took Thomas Edison thousands of failed attempts to finally succeed at making the light bulb.
2. “There are no good or bad days, there are just days. You choose to make them good or bad.” – Insightful Unknown
You can wake up in the morning and decide “today is going to be a good day”. I know that sometimes days can have a rough start and continue putting you through many endless loopholes. However, situations are just what we make of them. If we let them take control of the rest of the day we won’t gain anything in the process. Therefore, what I like to do is take a few deep breaths in and assess the situation. Will this bother me twenty minutes from now? Oftentimes, the answer is no. This allows me to effectively brush it off and move on with my day. If the answer was yes, then I will deal with it right then and there.
Sometimes your mood in the morning can get the best of you, trust me, I’ve been there. But after a couple days of thinking “this is a bad day”, I realized that no one is losing anything but me. Instead of taking full advantage of the day, I dreaded how bad of a day it would be. This didn’t allow me to gain anything, nothing was going to switch and make the day any different. The only thing capable of that was me. I eventually understood that having a positive outlook on the day from the beginning sets me up for ultimate success.
3. “Worrying is a lot like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do, but doesn’t get you anywhere”- Glenn Turner
Worry is an extremely destructive habit. Not only does it make you fall behind, it can have emotional and physical tolls on your body as well. So as this quote says, rocking a chair although it might be relieving in the moment, it won’t be of any use when you’re done with it. You can sit there and worry about the thing but it won’t help you make progress on it or take it out of the picture. Worrying is simply stressing about something that hasn’t happened yet, and frankly might never happen. What worrying does do is steal away the good you could be having instead. The good moments, the good feelings, even good rest! All I’ve done over the years was stress over situations that haven’t and won’t happen.
When I was younger, I would come out of tests and assessments in tears and filled to the peak with worry. I wouldn’t eat or sleep for days on end thinking about how I might’ve failed and how I would break the bad news to my parents. Until one day I called my Mom after a brutal exam and she told me “crying and worrying isn’t going to wind back time and allow you to change your approach, put it behind you, and move on”. This has been accompanying me in my every move. Didn’t do well on that form? Instead of worrying about failing step 1, I’ll think about changing my approach and about hammering down my weaknesses.
4.”Are you bad at it or are you not good yet?”- Wise Unknown
No one is inherently good or bad at something. Yes, sometimes things come more naturally to some than others, however, to be truly good at something you must practice it.
This tip also utilizes the work of Dr. Carol Dweck on mindsets. “For thirty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life” she states in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The book looks into the differences between a growth and fixed mindset; where the growth mindset is one that views intelligence and talent as qualities that can be developed and grown over time. Whereas a fixed mindset views them as simply put, fixed. What we want to employ is a growth mindset, we want to believe that we aren’t inherently bad at this, we just aren’t good yet. Take that, nephrology!
For me, this translates into studying harder and changing my approach to the topic I’m studying. I’m not bad at this topic, I’m simply not good at it yet. I start to include spaced repetition, questions, and other resources into my schedule. I try my hardest to truly understand and grasp the topic. Nothing can really stop me from putting my all into it. After all, I realized that the only thing stopping me from understanding the topic are my own thoughts. Thinking I’m simply bad at it and giving up is so much easier than putting in the work. But knowing and truly believing that there is no such thing as being bad at something allows me to push through anything.
5. “Comparison is the thief of joy.”- Theodore Roosevelt
Everyone is embarking on their own journey. As much as we hate being compared to our cousins or the boy from next door, we should stay away from comparing ourselves to others. In our times, social media has made it a lot harder to not fall into self-comparison. Seeing what everyone is doing and getting, eventually makes you want to compare your accomplishments and life. This comparison simply makes us feel inadequate and downright less in general. Separating self-comparison from the appreciation of what others have and are doing is hard, but it is not impossible. Allow yourself to be grateful for what you do have and how great you really are. Accept that you are putting your everything into what you’re doing and will get there eventually. At your own pace.
When I feel myself tumbling into the realm of self-comparison, I try to come to the root cause. Ninety percent of the time, the root cause is social media. And that’s when I decide to deactivate my social media for a while and step back to reflect. Deactivating and stepping back isn’t a sign of weakness, on the contrary, it is a sign of strength. It allows you to truly be present in your own life and ultimately be more productive. It leads to decisions uninfluenced by any external factors, which oftentimes is best tailored to your current circumstances.
6. “Don’t wind yourself up over what you think you ‘should’ be doing and feeling.”
As every motivational speaker ever said, “go at your own pace”. Just like comparing yourself to others in your own field damages your self-esteem, thinking you are falling behind is worse. The key to productivity and success is confidently going at your own pace. For example, some people can become consultants in 5 years and others can take 15 years, however, that does not change the level of “consultants” they are. No one will say this guy became a consultant faster than the other one. Take it one step at a time and eventually, you will get there.
On another note, I believe that taking things slow and enjoying every step of the way is more important than reaching the final destination as fast as possible. I want to enjoy the journey while I’m at it. I want to remember these days in the future and associate them with the building blocks that brought me where I am today. You don’t want to get to the end of your life realizing you’ve become a big shot but haven’t enjoyed life or slowed down and been there for your loved ones. That feeling of being proud of a loved one for reaching their own milestone, putting yourself aside, is so beautiful and heartwarming. You won’t want to let a day pass without squeezing the last drop of LIFE out of it.
7. “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”-John Wooden
This last one is what has gotten me through a lot of studying. When I would study for the USMLE and come across a HUGE table on First Aid, I tended to shrug it off and say “I’ll learn this later”. But after hearing this piece of advice, I would think: ‘if I don’t spend the time trying to fully grasp the concept, would I want to waste more time in the future relearning it?’
Let’s take a more drastic example, say I’m putting up a shelving unit and I don’t have the time to put it together as perfectly as I would like. So I end up loosely putting everything together and dragging the final product to the side of the room. Now, a couple days later I place something on it and the whole unit collapses. Now I have to put the same amount of time (maybe even more), to put it together again. Wouldn’t it have been better if I just dedicated enough time to it the first time around?
All in all, trying to understand concepts the first time fully has made my studying much more effective. It allows me to dedicate more time to other topics and figuring out how to improve my weaknesses. Not having to look back, allows you to continue mounting the trajectory forward.
Learning from other people’s wisdom and experiences is one of the best methods to self-growth. Making your own mistakes is a good way to improve, but learning from other people’s mistakes and experiences allows you to improve faster and make even broader developments. These life hacks can give you a shortcut to the end. So why not take advantage of these tips and widen our horizons?
What are some pieces of wisdom that have stuck with you? Let me know in the comments below!