It is reassuring having goals. I never have to worry about wondering aimlessly through life. A clear, direct path lies straight ahead. There isn’t a problem as long as I just take the necessary steps to move forward.

This summer, I have not lost sight of my path. Instead, I have hit a point where things have become a routine. The reasoning behind my actions—and subsequent meaning of that action—has faded into the hum drum of life. I hate it. I feel stuck on my journey to success.

As a new semester rolls around, and as I enter into my 19thyear, now is the time to reinvigorate my strong work ethic—complementing it with a fresh sense of profound awareness. Below is a list of 8 reminders to help cultivate this motivated awareness that I wish to carry.

  1. We define our own success

What does it mean to be successful? I cannot tell you that! Only you can answer that for yourself. In our society, we see distinguished celebrities and big shots that have become successful. It is very easy to look at them, marvel at their path, and put your thumb down saying that’s what success looks like! If I just do everything they did, then I’ll be successful. Too many times this line of thinking has led me down the wrong path.  From now on, the only success I pursue shall be clearly outlined by me and no one else!

  1. Focus on one thing at a time

Check out my Summer 2018 plan post. It’s quite ambitious. I overestimated the amount I could successfully juggle. Traveling, reading, writing, Spanish, piano, gym/nutrition, working 3-4 days a week on top of an online calculus class??? Yeah, something had to give. (No hesitation math was first). The things I let slip impacted me in a negative way. It felt like I was failing and making no progress since I had planned so much. In truth, this summer has been a big step forward: much more consistency in regard to working-out and nutrition, tons of fun traveling, and lots of great reading. But still, that feeling of failure, of not doing enough, haunts me.

  1. Nurture, not deplete

Nurture instead of depleting resources is a philosophy normally adopted by caring environmentalists about Mother earth. But, keep in mind, we are inseparable from our planet. This mindset can be applied to daily behavior and emotions, and I hope to do so more in this next year. My actions, words, and relationships should be reciprocal, not extractive. I should always try to give more than I take, and if for some reason I do need to take, then I always should try to regenerate or nourish whatever it is that I took.

  1. Stay humble

It is easy to boast. Our culture celebrates winners—casting aside those whose efforts fall short. When we accomplish a goal or reach a milestone, it is healthy to feel joy at the obstacle you have overcome. However, if this joy turns into excessive pride, and one starts to inflate his or her accomplishments beyond their worth, they will only create a hollow gap between their true self and how they really act. I want to live in unity with my true self. This requires modesty and letting go of the opportunities to rub it in people’s faces—as tempting as they are.

  1. Don’t be weighed down by the negativity of others

Who we surround our self with matters. Their mannerisms, way of thinking, and habits will rub off on us with enough time. If surrounded by complainers and Negative Nelly’s, everything will become half empty. The only problem with that advice is that it’s just not possible to be around only positive people 24/7, given the amount of cynicism in the world. There will always be people at work who will not shut up about how much they want to quit this monotonous office job. Or, maybe it’s a family member who never seems to be satisfied with things. As healthy as it would be, there’s no escaping all of the negativity in the world. Often times, I fall prey or even contribute to the storm cloud of negativity that rains on so many people. It does me no good; yet, when there is too much of it around, I always get wet.  I must remain positive in the face of negativity, and I hope to brighten others up along the way.

  1. Dare to be different

If you haven’t noticed, I am not a fan of a lot of the values society pushes. I dislike doing things a predetermined way, especially if it has been laid out many times before and forced upon you by someone else. We must blaze our own trails. I need to keep this in mind and ask God for the courage to always be myself.

  1. Act only with compassion

The moment my action is driven by anything other than a heartfelt compassion is a time of great alarm. Love and a commitment to helping others is the anchor in my life. If I act only for myself—or even worse—hurt another person, then something is really wrong.

  1. Appreciate, Appreciate, Appreciate,

The road to success is not paved solely by me. It is too easy to take for granted all of the amazing people that have supported me along my voyage. Sometimes (and you can verify this with my closest family members) I get too focused on my work and leave no time for what is most important: faith, family, friends—or the three F’s as I like to call them.

 

I have noticed that in the past couple of months, things have really seemed to fly by. My friends were all busy with work; my family occupied by whatever they had on their plate. Less and less time has been devoted to quality, joyous existence. I don’t know if that’s what happens with age, or this summer was just a strange anomaly. All I know is that I am getting older, and my time is being spread thinner than melting butter on hot toast. Time is a valuable thing. It is admirable to devote a lot of it to pursuing our goals, or to things that will make us successful. But, if our goals consume every ounce of our time, and we don’t ever step back and fallow the moment, our finite years are drained faster and faster from our limited hourglasses—and with less meaning too.

 

Last Thursday was the first time all summer that I laid outside and watched fluffy white cotton balls pass up above. No work haunted my eager brain, and more importantly, no stress pressed upon my temples from my sporadic inaction. The first true breath of summer. In that brief hiatus, everything was bright and warm. Tension flowed out of every limb—absorbed by the arms and roots of my oak neighbors. If for some reason my feeble mind fails to remember anything from the list above, let me accept and embrace being. I can put a thousand things on my plate, maybe even accomplish one or two of them, but if I want to smile on my journey I can never forget the beauty of looking up and knowing just how small we really are.