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5 ways to discover what's important: are you ready to get started?

21 Make time for yourself

Making time for you is really, and I mean really, a lost art. When was the last time you sat in complete silence with your thoughts? Try this little exercise: take an hour or two out of your day and devote it only to you. Maybe that means reading a book, taking a walk, or spending time with friends. No matter what you decide, you should do something for you everyday. It may seem silly that someone has to tell you to make time for yourself, but if you're feeling rundown and a bit out out of sorts, it may be more than tiredness. It could be that you are out of touch with your life. You might think that taking time out for yourself is selfish, but actually, it'll give you more time for others because of its rejuvenating effects. This way, you'll have more energy to give, not less. Remember this: You are no good to others--your husband, boss, children, or mother--if you are of no value to yourself. In other words, do you first.

22 Cultivate relationships

There are numerous studies that say successful people spend the majority of their time networking or cultivating relationships while others spend only about a third of their time doing the same. Relationships, both personal and professional, are the cornerstone of your success because they will ultimately predict how far you get in life. Someone who takes time with others and gives instead of only taking will never have to worry about opportunities. That's because whatever you give, you will receive that, and then some, in return. Look at it this way. The next time you meet someone at a conference, for example, don't call that person on Monday asking for help on how to deal with a random problem. Instead, ask about his or her family or well-being. And whatever you do, be a person of your word. Integrity goes a long way toward building relationships, and people will remember you not by what you say, but by what you do. Now you're on your way to cultivating great relationships.

23 Create goals and take action

Whatever your goals--to go back to school, to change careers or to become a chef--write them down. I recently met a young man who said he wanted to become an entrepreneur when he left school. He'd thought about three businesses: a barber shop, a car wash, and "something" in finance. I told him that was fine to have these goals, but that he had to do one thing at a time, and once one business is successful, leverage that business' capital to help start another. Why? Because if he doesn't, he won't have the focus he needs to finish goal one before he trips along trying to get the next one. Having goals are great, but once you figure out what they are, write an action plan to get you there. If it's a business, for example, it means writing a business plan and then following those steps to start and maintain your business. And don't get discouraged if your plan doesn't go exactly as hoped. Rethink it, rework it, and then take action. Otherwise, you're simply dreaming.

24 Be excellent--every time

Mediocrity is easy. It's what's most of us do every time we show up for work late and then act as if no one should reprimand us. To be excellent means to show up on time, be committed, and execute. It's really the only way to accomplish what you really want to get out of life. It takes drive, stamina, and determination; it's what very successful people do, not as a means to an end, but as a way of life. Dennis Kimbro, a motivational speaker, recently retold the story of when Tiger Woods got off a plane after an exhausting 18 holes. Woods immediately began reviewing tapes of the day's event. By 5 a.m., he was almost finished when he saw something on the tapes. He immediately called his swing coach and said, "I see something, let's practice." He takes 1,000 swings a day to get to peak performance. You may say to yourself, "I'm not Tiger Woods!" But you have to define excellence for yourself. Are you willing to go above and beyond to make your dreams come true? Excellence is about daring yourself to be great and then doing everything in your power to get yourself there.

25 Keep a journal

In an era when no one has time, journaling is a way to get to know yourself and what's really important to you. So get a notebook, journal, or even use your laptop (who said it had to be freehand?) and pour out your thoughts and goals. Also try blogging--writing about anything and everything that suits your fancy--on the Internet. Sites like let you set up your own diary to type your thoughts out. Journaling is a freeing experience no matter which method you use. Take the time to jot down your thoughts to clear your mind and perhaps uncover some new truths about yourself. So, start journaling today and see how much better you'll feel.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Earl G. Graves Publishing Co., Inc.
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Title Annotation:35 STEPS TO A BETTER LIFE
Author:Sykes, Tanisha A.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Date:Aug 1, 2005
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