It seems like sometimes in life, no matter how hard we try we can never really “get ahead”. Whether it’s by working more hours, taking on another job, or even bettering ourselves through education, we never seem to really catch up to those around us.

And other times, it’s not even about the the money and stuff. Sometimes it’s that elusive “success” that seem to come to people. Others get promoted over us, get more opportunities, and even their kids just seem, well, better.

Some days, getting ahead is just trying to keep our head above water.

A friend caught in some mighty rapids while boarding a wave by the local spot at the river (he was fine).

But luckily, there are a few ways to finally get ahead, whatever that means to you. And it’s a lot easier than you’ve probably thought all this time.

Below, I’ve listed the 3 things I’ve found that leads to finally getting ahead. And those 3 things aren’t something you SHOULD be doing, but 3 things you need to STOP doing.

1. Stop trying to get ahead.

This seems so counterintuitive. After all you really WANT to get ahead, so doesn’t that mean you’ve gotta hustle and put more effort in?

On one level I’d agree with you. You’ll never get to where you want to be without putting effort in. “The Secret” is really a crock and nothing happens just by thinking good thoughts. It starts there, but can’t end there.

But that’s not really what I mean.

What I mean by stop trying to get ahead is stop worrying about it so damned much! Life naturally ebbs and flows, and sometimes it takes the struggle to really grow. The best of us have been at rock bottom and saw the light. We said “I want to be THERE!” And then went after it. From there the road diverges into two paths: those that keep going, and those that give up.

Now, no matter which road you’re on, or even which one you THINK you’re on, doesn’t matter.

What DOES matter is are you still pressing forward? Are you still “chopping the wood and carrying the water” meaning are you doing the things that will lead you to the success that you’re chasing?

See, success leaves clues. It really does. But rarely, is overnight success a reality. Often times, even with the cases of overnight success, there are YEARS and YEARS of consistent hard work and development to get there. We don’t ever see that part of it. We just see that instant success, somebody who just seemed to materialize into the world.

But what you didn’t see was all of the hours and hours of practice. The days of pain and heartache, of disappointment and denials that went into the EVENTUAL success.

It was on those days that the fork in the road was chosen. The path to comfort, or the path to success.

And only the ones that pursue the path to success understand this first principle. They didn’t do it to “get ahead”. They did it to succeed. They kept going because they had to. They didn’t “try”, but rather knew “they must”.

So stop trying to get ahead, and instead decide now which path you’ll take.

2. Stop comparing yourself to other people.

This is a tricky one. You’ve probably heard this advice many times over your life. But it’s only partly true.

The part that’s true is that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Once you catch up to “The Joneses”, there’s always a new Jones family that moves in next door.

This is perfectly explained by the findings of  Dan Ariely, Behavioral Economist from Duke University. He found an interesting truth about money. Through his research he discovered that the optimal threshold of income is about $72,000 per year. He explains that below this threshold, the stresses of meeting basic needs is high. That it’s difficult for many to find the time or the money to do the things that they really want to do.

More interestingly though was that he found that above that threshold, there was a different kind of stress. The stress associated to taking care of more stuff, of the feeling to constantly keep up, of additional hours at work, and so on.

See, it’s not really easier to have more. It just brings different stresses.

But, what I think Ariely’s work misses is this. There is a point, and I think this is where it gets cloudy because it’s not so much a number as it is a mindset, that there is a relative amount of certainty. There comes a point in the most successful people, where the idea shifts from getting more or even getting enough, to one that has a level of comfort that it’s all gonna be ok on it’s own. At that point, the most successful shift their thinking from needing more to giving more.

It becomes less about the money, and more about the creation.

So instead of comparing yourself to others about what they have, find those people that have shifted their beliefs from having more, to doing more. And compare yourself to them.

3. Stop complaining

Similar to the first principle above, this comes down to a belief that there’s never enough.

There’s never enough money. There’s never enough time. There’s never enough sunshine, happy days, laughter, vacation, and so on, and so on.

Ya know what? Henry Ford was dead on when he said “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t…you’re right”. How you see the world shapes how you live in the world.

Again, this isn’t about “The Secret” and manifesting your reality. This is about what we believe about the world around us. Similarly to how we apply our mindset to what we believe, is how we address the problem of scarcity.

Did you know that there is no agreement about how long the oil we have in the entire world will last? There’s a general agreement about how much we approximately have, but not how long it will last. The reason is that technology changes constantly, as does the population using the existing oil that we do have. We have alternatives, we have new ways of capturing that oil, we have new fields that we didn’t have access to.

So, it’s not so much that we don’t agree, but more so how we choose to address the problem. We can choose to react to a problem, or respond.

A reaction is explosive, by its very nature. A response on the other hand is something that is more calculated. So if we choose to react to problems, we are choosing to blow things out of proportion. Whereas if we decide to respond, we are taking the variables and calculating how we will advance forward.

There’s never enough. Hasn’t been for thousands of years, and there won’t be for thousands more. So stop complaining. Instead, choose to respond to your situation and calculate your actions to change it.

Making the choice

You have a choice in this life. You can be the type to coast along and “do your best”. It can be a comfortable life, until it isn’t. Because you’re not really living it on your own terms. And honestly, I don’t think there is anything innately wrong with that choice.

But I don’t think that’s you.

I think you’re the type of person who wants to be responsible for your outcomes. You decide that you will live according to your own standards. You choose to live a life free of the mundane worries by focusing on where you’re going and resigning that you will get there. And you choose to be a victor, and no longer a victim.

Then path you choose is yours.

Question:

What have you worried about in your life, that in the end wasn’t worth the time and effort?

How to Finally Get Ahead in Life

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