The Complete Guide to Personal Habits: 158 Positive Reflections in 7 Categories to Be The Best Version of Yourself

It is 43 years since I was born, 25 since I finished school and 12 since I graduated with my MBA as seen in this picture below.  I have written some notes on life every day since I was 14 years old.  This long post is a summary of ideas that came from a review of all those journals.

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At my MBA graduation with two of my favourite Professors: Brian Leggett and Manel Baucells

158 Reflections to become The Best Version of Yourself

This is a collection of phrases that keep me focussed on what is important.  I wrote this list out one Sunday afternoon 5 years ago sat at my home dining table.

There are seven categories:

  1. Dealing with People
  2. Take Disciplined Action
  3. Accept Reality as it is
  4. Make Progress towards Results
  5. Stay Healthy
  6. Living with Purpose and
  7. Personal Growth.


I make no claim to originality and I leave you a list of thinkers who have inspired me and are far more responsible for any wisdom here than myself.

Dealing with People

  1. You will not change them. Let it go.
  2. Who will cry at your funeral?
  3. Never miss a moment to encourage someone.
  4. You will become who you spend most time with.
  5. Communication is measured by what is understood, not how well it is articulated.
  6. It takes two to fight.
  7. Confrontation may be necessary.
  8. Other people can handle more than you think. Be careful with white lies.
  9. Real listening is hard. It requires 100% attention.
  10. There is no such thing as a “self-made man”. Be grateful.
  11. Ask more questions.
  12. The one asking the questions is in control. Are you asking the questions?
  13. Remain curious. The 4th “why?” often gets the real reason.
  14. Learn to attract and use mentors and advisors.
  15. Build networks before you need them.
  16. Get really, really good at concisely presenting your ideas.
  17. Learn to sell.
  18. Aggression begets aggression.
  19. Surround yourself with people strong enough to change your mind.
  20. If you don’t “do politics” others will “do you”.
  21. Learn to differentiate sceptics (good for you) from cynics (bad for you).
  22. In the end people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.
  23. Build lifelong friendships.
  24. Be kind to your mum.
  25. Hire well, manage little.
  26. Spend time with people who want you to succeed. Some “friends” don’t want you to grow or change.
  27. Nobody will ever tell you that you made them laugh too much.
  28. What is your label?

 

Take Disciplined Action

  1. Change is painful. Growth requires change. No pain, no gain.
  2. Everyday changes less. Change that.
  3. Incremental change always wins.
  4. Perfect is the enemy of good. Good is the enemy of great.
  5. The best indicator of mastery of big things is mastery of small things. Master the small things.
  6. Do not wish it were easier. Wish you were better.
  7. Get a coach.
  8. Learn to ask for advice and help.
  9. In the Olympics, nobody wins both marathon and 100m sprints. Focus.
  10. Routine sets you free.
  11. Get good at motivating yourself.
  12. Knowing what to do and not doing it is the same as not knowing what to do.
  13. The most dangerous place is in your safety zone.
  14. “I will try” is never enough. Remove “try”.
  15. If you want to be a writer: write; A singer: sing; A teacher: teach.
  16. Kindness and hard work will take you further than intelligence.
  17. If you never act, you will never know for sure.
  18. Delayed gratification is necessary.
  19. We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret

 

Accept Reality as it is

  1. If a problem has no solution, it is not a problem. It is a fact.
  2. Bad things do sometimes happen to good people.
  3. Perfectionism messes you up.
  4. Make allowances for incompetence.
  5. Pain is guaranteed. Suffering is optional.
  6. Very, very little is truly under your control.
  7. The past is gone except in your head. Learn to forget.
  8. Ignore the little things.
  9. No one cares about it as you do.
  10. Stop any negative comments about people not in the room. You are not helping them and are likely positioning yourself in the victim role.
  11. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
  12. If it rains, it rains. There is nothing you can do except put up an umbrella.

 

Making Progress towards Results

  1. There is no “they”.
  2. Love is discipline. Love is work.
  3. Laziness is the life killer. Laziness is the original sin.
  4. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
  5. Commitment before success. Always.
  6. Stop justifying. Break the “yes, but…” habit.
  7. The most reliable predictor of what you will be doing 5 minutes from now is what you are doing now.
  8. Break inertia. Every hour ask “Is this giving me long term benefit or short term happiness?” If No, No then Stop.
  9. If you desire a specific effect in your life you must put in motion the cause of that effect.
  10. Success is a process, not a product. Work on your process and the product will come.
  11. Every time you blame someone, you give away your power to change things.
  12. Leadership doesn’t happen when things are easy. It is the final 1% that makes you world class.
  13. Don’t see the wall.
  14. A problem is only a problem if you choose to view it as a problem. It is an opportunity.
  15. A dream will remain a dream until it is converted into disciplined, daily action.
  16. If you see yourself as a victim, you will always be one.
  17. Stop being a victim. (Stop enjoying other’s pity).
  18. The circle of pity: The more you feel sorry for yourself, the worse your life will get.
  19. Excuses are a way of not facing up to reality, for pulling out when things get a bit difficult.
  20. One small step completed is a million times better than one big plan thought about.
  21. Act instead of talking about it.
  22. Next time you are about to complain, stop; explain what you are going to do about it.
  23. The world does not owe you a living.
  24. You have to pass the thorns to get to the roses.
  25. The grass is not greener on the other side.
  26. Refuse to use your past as an excuse.
  27. Stop saying “yes, but…”
  28. You don’t need permission. (For what it’s worth, you have mine.)
  29. The problem contains the solution.
  30. It takes 10 years to become an overnight success.
  31. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  32. Justification is much, much easier than the hard reality of accepting responsibility.
  33. Do it now.
  34. If you rest too long, the weeds take the garden. Activity finishes the miracle.

 

Stay Healthy

  1. You can’t be great if you don’t feel great.
  2. Keep fit.
  3. Eat well.
  4. Brush your teeth.
  5. Dream. Play like a Child.
  6. Don’t smoke.
  7. Daily exercise is an insurance policy against future illness. Best leaders are fittest leaders.

 

Living with Purpose

  1. Life is a gift.
  2. Does today’s schedule reflect your deepest values?
  3. Good students deliver what the teacher wants. Great students deliver what they know to be right.
  4. The best is yet to come.
  5. Imagination is the supreme uniqueness of humans. Use it.
  6. Do not ask: “why me?”; Ask: “What can I learn? What can I do? Who can I help?”
  7. Carpe diem. Memento mori. (Seize the day. Remember you shall die).
  8. Integrity is much more than intention to be honest. It is having a system in place to deliver on your promises.
  9. Say “No” more.
  10. Chains of gold are no less chains than chains of iron.
  11. Reason is the rudder. Passion is the sails. You need both.
  12. You are not your little voice.
  13. Success always starts with ambitious goals. Life gives what you ask of it.
  14. We are educated for busy-ness, not for listening to our own minds at work.
  15. Poverty is about much more than money.
  16. Being everything to everyone is really being nobody to no one.
  17. Success can only be measured from within.
  18. Smell the roses.
  19. Have fun. Every day.
  20. Fun makes life worth living.
  21. Everybody dies. Not everybody truly lives.
  22. The world is not out to get you.
  23. Life is not easy. Life is not fair. This is how it is.
  24. There are always good reasons to be angry, disappointed, let down. Ignore them.
  25. Listen to your angst. It is telling you something important. Don’t turn on the TV to avoid it. It will only get worse.
  26. It is a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t matter if you are ahead at the mid-point, it matters that you reach the finish.
  27. The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.
  28. The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy. It is believing that merely existing is actually living.
  29. Remember where you are climbing to and don’t just stick to the ladder.
  30. The unexamined life is not worth living, but the over-examined life isn’t worth living either.
  31. Don’t compare your life to others; you have no idea what their journey is all about.
  32. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  33. The reward for conformity is that everybody likes you except yourself.
  34. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
  35. Be true to yourself. Lying feels good. Until you are found out.
  36. Take a walk with a turtle. Pause and see the journey.
  37. Know the difference between price and value. A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

 

Personal Growth

  1. The strongest steel is forged in the hottest furnaces.
  2. Some answers can only come from inside.
  3. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is acting in the presence of fear.
  4. Your unconscious is wise. Its messages are often difficult. You need to listen carefully.
  5. We are blind. Only other people can help us see clearly.
  6. Make your emotions work for you, not you for them.
  7. When you fall, focus on where you slipped, not where you fell.
  8. We are most blind when we know the most. Assumptions so deep we cannot see them anymore.
  9. Ask: “what did we learn today?” everyday.
  10. Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.
  11. Best way to learn to do it right is to first do it wrong.
  12. The more you go to your limits, the more your limits will expand.
  13. Mastering a few things is much better than mediocrity in many; and it is the route to mastery of big things.
  14. Read daily.
  15. Excellence in one area is the beginning of excellence in every area.
  16. Incremental improvement always wins.
  17. Outlearn your competition.
  18. Every single person in the world could be a genius at something, if they practiced it daily for at least 10 years or 10,000 hours.
  19. The only source of good knowledge is bad experience.
  20. Make the best of the worst. It is easy to make the best of the easy times. It is hard to make the best of the hard times.
  21. Life is a contact sport.

I Invite you to Share this List…

Gratitude: The 18 Influencers of this Work

There are many people whose works have added flavour to this list.  This material has been compiled from a Sunday review of 15 years of daily journals.  Some of the phrases are my own, but many are direct and even exact copies of words that I have read in books, heard in speeches or seen in blog posts.  These are the top 13 people who have influenced the ideas expressed in this post.

  1. Tom Peters
  2. Seth Godin
  3. Jim Rohn
  4. Tony Robbins
  5. Marshall Goldsmith
  6. M. Scott Peck
  7. Aristotle
  8. Socrates
  9. Seneca
  10. Blair Singer
  11. Shimon Peres
  12. Kahlil Gibrain
  13. Malcolm Gladwell
  14. Bill Treasurer
  15. Verne Harnish
  16. Rita Mae Brown
  17. Mathieu Ricard
  18. John Bird

23 comments

  1. Sasha Cohen · · Reply

    This is such a great list! My favorite “Make your emotions work for you, not you for them.” I keep trying to remind myself of this over and over again. I have been struggling with personal issues for 10 years and have found reaching out online to seek the advice of others has helped me through the good and bad time. I have always had relationship issues and have started to follow the advice of Dr. Robi Ludwig. I saw her on a tv show once and I really appreciated her take on current psychological issues. She has written two books but my favorite book is with Your Best Age is Now I have read it and loved it! I highly recommend it to anyone out there struggling.

  2. […] If you liked this post you might also like The complete guide to personal habits: 158 reflections on being your best self and 9 Reasons why you are […]

  3. Conor, you provided the basis for 45 mins of meditation and reflection. Thx

    1. Glad to hear it. Good meditations 😉

  4. Excellent post! Some of the ideas will be in my new course of Organizational Behavior for the next year. Thank you very, very much! Dan

    1. Thank you Dan 😉 Sounds like an inspiring course.

  5. This is such a great gem, you’ve shared Conor. Appreciate it a big time.

    Life is too short to learn everything from one’s own experience, we must learn from the experience of others as well. Especially when the treasure comes from a person like you, it’s more filled with value and openness.

    Thanks once again, for sharing this gems with us today 🙂

  6. Lauren · · Reply

    Excellent! What a great set of life’s truths! Thank you for sharing! I am adding to the list to continue for myself too! “When people tell you who they are, believe them the first time!” Mayo Angelo and “Be excellent to each other. No exceptions.” Abe Lincoln.

  7. Ruben · · Reply

    Great Reflections Neil! As always, you are a great source of inspiration. Greetings from Mexico!

  8. Great stuff, Conor, Since I started following your blog for the past one year or so.. your articles have influenced my life immensely. I admire the clarity in your thoughts. By sharing them like this you are doing a great social education. Roshan from Sri Lanka (currently working in the UAE)

    1. Thank you Roshan. Kind words. Keeps me inspired!

  9. Joe falcao · · Reply

    Conor

    Great inspiration! Thank you

    1. Thanks Joe

  10. Angel · · Reply

    Working on my Weekly Video !!! Not an easy job for a “Cloud lady” like me!!!!
    Thanks for sharing. Living with Faith Hope Love

    1. Faith, hope and love will get you to the place you need to go! Get the record button into an easy to see place 😉

  11. cafca9 · · Reply

    inspirational stuff ! thank you for sharing.

  12. This came to me on a day when I needed it most! Thank you!

    1. I am glad that the universe knew what was necessary 😉

  13. Great post Conor. Will def. be revisiting this post. Just curious, have you gotten your hands on Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle Is The Way? I thought he did a good job of putting some of these very ideas into story form.

    1. Not yet got the book – I have the sample on my kindle.

  14. This is awesome. I know some of them but having it in one piece is beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Emenike

  15. John Roche · · Reply

    Conor, Superb. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you well. John

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