This year if there has been one quote or advice that has STUCK with me, PUSHED me and HELPED me in my career and life – it is this:

Work harder on yourself than you do on your job ~ Jim Rohn

This does not mean that you not give 100% to your work, it just means to focus 100% on yourself first – the value then that you bring to your job or business or family increases hundred–fold. The more you work on yourself, the better things get in every sphere of your life. I have tried and tested these results on me and many others in my extended teams this year meeting with great success. So how do we incorporate this philosophy of working on ourselves in the daily rat-race?

Here are five pointers to help you achieve this:

Pointer #1: Self Examination – Sorry but as I said it all starts with the Self. This is not about looking in the mirror and asserting that everything is great. As someone wise said : The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement. Focus very specifically on what things you need to improve on – is it your self-confidence, your ability to plan and be organized, your writing or speaking skills? Identify the areas and drill down further to the HOW. We are lucky to have amazing resources available on the internet on any topic that you could think of and many support groups to egg you on to achievement. Try http://www.marcandangel.com/ – a personal favorite. Tap these sources well.

Pointer #2: Be a Life-Long Learner – Lifelong learners tend to love what they do, or they at least find some aspect of it to love. Learners love the challenge, if nothing else. It’s the learners who question the status quo, shake things about and are innovators. And of course getting rewarded at their jobs or business is an inevitable side benefit as learning keeps you current and relevant. There are two parts to learning – staying current and learning a new skill. Keep some time aside for reading, there is a plethora of blogs that you can subscribe to – my no.1 recommendation is Seth’s blog which certainly shakes you out of complacency. Another great resource is the HBR site – on any given day, you can definitely find an article that captures your interest or simply browse through the archives. Learning a new skill will help you expand your capabilities – enroll in an online course and make good use of your company’s training department.

Pointer #3: Be Yourself- Realize that You are in control. We all have our own standards of excellence. We also have different priorities and what motivates me to put in 100% won’t necessarily be the same for you. Whatever your own standard of excellence is in your work, whatever you feel passionately about – that’s what you should be true to. Don’t stop doing or keep doing stuff just because some of your colleagues’ standards of excellence are lower than yours or their priorities are different. Your measuring stick for your own achievement should be based on what you want to achieve, not how much or little other people are doing. What excites you most? Feed that passion and find ways to align it with your work responsibilities.

Pointer #4 : Avoid the Negative(And Reinforce the Positive) – What makes you feel tired and drained – it could be people, thoughts or activities. If you want to maintain a positive attitude, consider sharply limiting your daily exposure to such experiences. Don’t show up at the daily complaint sessions at work. If you’ve got family members who are constantly negative, tune them out. Your happiness lies within you – trite but true, practice happiness every day, make it your sacred ritual. No matter what you do for a living, the key to success is great performance, every single day. And that’s only possible if you make optimism, energy, and enthusiasm part of your daily experience.

Pointer #5: Help Others Succeed – I read a beautiful Zulu proverb recently that says it all: “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”- A human is only a human because of other humans. We’re all interconnected! Your Success is assured and becomes more meaningful when you help others succeed. Personal relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows. The more you give of yourself in anything, the more you get in return – especially when you give with no expectation of return. Too often, we build islands of ourselves cutting ourselves off from people who we can learn from, grow with and share life’s experiences. Do what you can for other people, work hard at building relationships.  It is a sure shot method to help you become a personal and professional success and live a fulfilling life.

The inspiration for this post came from my mom and a few of my favorite people at work and twitter (you know who you are) while talking about what’s worked and what has not in the past year. Let us strive to be not just good but a little better in the coming year. Do what you love and love what you do.

Do share your experiences on what has worked for you in the last year, the one experience or learning that you are taking with you into the future.

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