How To Win At Life: 10 No Bullsh*t Tips!

About 20 years ago, I saw a quote spray painted on the side of my favorite cafe. It said:

“Don’t measure your life by how many breaths you take, but by what takes your breath away.”

I was going through a difficult time, being at uni and working two jobs to make ends meet, and it occurred to me that I was doing very little that actually did, in fact, take my breath away.

That quote inspired me to make some pretty big changes in my life, which led me on a path that I’m incredibly happy to be on.

People have asked me whether I feel that I am “winning” at life or not. I suppose that some people might think so, while others would balk at choices I’ve made, and where I’ve ended up.

Personally, I feel that the idea of “winning” at life implies that we’re competing with others, rather than following our own unique, individual journeys.

That said, there are several actions people can take in order to attain various levels of personal success and fulfillment. Let’s take a look at some of them, shall we?

1. Stop Caring About What Others Think Of You

Too many people end up on paths that don’t fulfill them, simply because they’re pushed to do so by others, or they feel that they “should” do certain things because they’re expected.

Sod that.

You can’t win at life if it’s not your life that you’re living.

Don’t get trapped in other people’s thoughts and expectations, even if they’re your parents or partners.

Everyone has their own path to walk, and you’re not going to put sincere effort into a path that you feel forced to be on.

“To thine own self be true” and you’ll be a lot happier and more successful in your endeavors.

We have an article that can help you: How To Not Care What People Think… Ever Again!

2. Do What You Love

This follows along with the former guideline. How many people do you know who are slogging through careers and jobs they can’t stand so that hopefully, one day, they can finally retire and then do the things that they enjoy?

Does that sound fulfilling to you?

Life is short, and far too many people spend most of their time enduring existence rather than enjoying it.

When you make a career out of something you love, you pour sincere effort into it because it’s actually important to you. I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?

3. Cultivate Self-Discipline

No matter what it is you do, be disciplined and dedicated about it.

Do what needs to be done in order to achieve your goals, and hold yourself to a high standard of behavior to make it happen.

If your health is a priority, create a solid exercise schedule and personal diet plan, and stick to them.

Do you want to improve your education? Set aside X amount of time per day to work on a course or program that you’ve enrolled in. When you’re occupied with your studies, act as though nothing else in the world exists.

Think about some people you look up to and who you would say have won at life. Consider their stories and journeys. What you’ll find is they worked hard and stayed disciplined to achieve what they did.

4. Create Real Goals To Achieve What You Want

You’ve probably come across SMART goals before, but let’s have a brief refresher here.

This acronym stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Timely

It’s great to have goals to reach for, but if you want to actually achieve them, then go about them the SMART way.

For example, if your goal is to buy a house, make a set of steps and goals that can help you save enough for your down payment by X date.

If you’d like to learn a new skill, then make a schedule for yourself to practice X hours per week, on specific projects.

By doing so, you have a way to measure your progress and document your achievements.

These small, realistic goals are invaluable for keeping you motivated.

And how will you know when you win at life if you don’t know what winning looks like to you – goals can help you with that.

5. Learn To Adapt

There is a saying that goes something like: “If you want to make God laugh, tell him/her your plans.”

Life is known to change at the drop of a hat, and that can cause people a lot of stress, drama, and even trauma.

After all, when we expect things to unfold a certain way and then they don’t, or something arises that throws our tidy little world into chaos, we can fall apart a little bit.

The key is to remain flexible enough to adapt to any circumstance.

Strive for goals, but be ready to change direction as needed – basically like taking a different route to your end destination.

Don’t get too attached to specific outcomes, but try to appreciate the journey, and the learning that happens while you’re getting there.

6. Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

Have you heard the phrase “a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there”?

It may sound a bit trite, but it’s actually very true. Comfort zones are soothing and cozy, but they can also allow us to stagnate and grow complacent.

People need new situations to challenge them, because it’s only through overcoming challenges that we can really grow.

If you’ve ever tended a garden, you’ll know that plants need a bit of stress in order to truly thrive. Too much stress will harm or even kill them (much like humans), but just a little bit, just enough, encourages stronger growth and more abundant yields.

If you find that you have an opportunity to grow, learn, or explore something new, but you’re afraid to try it because it’s different or scary, see if you have the courage to do it anyway.

You’ll undoubtedly learn a lot by trying, and at least you won’t spend the rest of your life wondering what would have happened if you’d taken the chance.

Think of life as a raffle – you can’t win if you don’t buy a ticket.

7. Never Stop Learning

Whether you’re honing your skills or diving into a new subject that interests you, you’ll find that constantly learning new things keeps your mind sharp and your senses agile.

People can be absolute masters at their craft, but new techniques, materials, and ideas keep evolving on a daily basis.

When we stop learning, we stagnate. And worse than that, we can get arrogant and stuck in our own ways.

Someone might have gained wealth and accolades by doing something a particular way for decades, but what if they could do better, more easily, by changing one little technique?

As an added bonus, learning new things – especially new languages! – helps to create fresh, new pathways in your brain… which can delay (or even avoid) mental deterioration conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia.

8. Try To See The Good In Everything

Now, this doesn’t mean to be an insufferable optimist all the time.

Things go to hell now and then, and being in denial about crappy situations doesn’t do anyone any good.

It’s important to recognize when you’re dealing with an “ugh” situation, rather than trying to polish it up and insist that it’s fine, really, everything’s fine, hahahah – that’s toxic positivity.

When unpleasant situations arise, acknowledge them, work through them the best you can, and try to see the upside if there is one.

There’s a poem by a 17th century Japanese poet named Mizuta Masahide that illustrates this well:

Barn’s burnt down —
now
I can see the moon.

Yeah, the fact that the barn burnt down was crap. But the upside is that the view is now absolutely spectacular.

Acknowledge that every single situation is an opportunity for personal awareness and growth, and there’s often something to be grateful for.

If you want to win, sometimes you have to look for the win in your current situation.

9. Reduce External Stress As Much As Possible

This may sound like a no-brainer, but a lot of people make their lives a lot more difficult than necessary by not eliminating unnecessary stressors.

Sometimes, the contributing factor to one’s stress can be a person who consistently drains your energy.

Additional factors can be annoying neighbors, unneeded drains on your finances, other people’s expectations of you, and moderate commitments that you really aren’t feeling.

Try to eliminate whatever isn’t needed, and simplify your life as much as possible.

p>Distance yourself from emotional vampires. Move out of the city if you’re being constantly assaulted by sirens, sounds, and smells that stress you out and overwhelm you. Cancel your entertainment subscriptions if you’re not taking full advantage of them.

Basically, trim out everything that doesn’t bring you joy, or doesn’t fulfill you.

If winning at life means walking a path that you find fulfilling, it’s far easier to do that when you’re not weighed down by unnecessary burdens.

10. Live Practically, But Don’t Deny Yourself

Some people believe that in order to be successful, they need to be miserly. Basically, saving every penny, or only spending on things that are absolutely necessary.

While being practical in terms of spending choices is a good idea, it’s also important to enjoy your life.

Investing in an adult-sized bouncy castle for your backyard might not be a wise investment, but clothes that you love, delicious food, and trips that inspire you can bring an extraordinary amount of joy into your world.

Try not to spend money that you don’t have, as nobody likes to contend with the crippling interest on credit card debt. Set aside a bit of money from every payment you get, and put those funds towards things that make you smile.

Invest in yourself, and in the things that make you happy. After all, this beautiful life was meant to be enjoyed, right?

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Everyone’s going to have their own idea of what “winning” at life looks like.

Each individual has their own priorities, life goals, and concepts of what success means.

For one person, winning will mean living in opulent wealth, with expensive clothes and cars and whatnot.

To another person, success might mean a quiet, simple life of peaceful self-sufficiency in a mountain cabin.

Regardless of what your own concept of winning might be, there are always opportunities for growth and personal development. 

Never mind what other people’s priorities and wants are. Try not to compare yourself to others, but determine what happiness and success mean to you. After all, you can’t win at someone else’s life; you can only win at yours. 

Hopefully some of these tips can help!

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About Author

Catherine Winter is a writer, art director, and herbalist-in-training based in Quebec's Outaouais region. She has been known to subsist on coffee and soup for days at a time, and when she isn't writing or tending her garden, she can be found wrestling with various knitting projects and befriending local wildlife.