50 Lessons to Improve Your LifeSep 20, 2022
To say that I’ve been fortunate over the past five decades would be a great understatement.
I grew up with good people around me.
My mom was and is unconditionally supportive.
My dad continues to model a tremendous work ethic.
I’ve had the same group of friends for 40 years, with some great new friends lately.
Since then, I’ve been able to enjoy so many experiences and opportunities, from coaching awesome clients to writing books to building businesses.
And, obviously, best of all, I have a wonderful family, with Sharon, Giavanna, and George being the best part of what are almost always good days.
Along the way, I’ve learned many lessons.
50 Lessons to Improve Your Life
Some of these I’ve shared before, as so many "truths" will show themselves over and over again.
Others have recently come into focus.
One of my annual birthday traditions is to reflect on these and share them with anyone who might be interested.
1. Relationships are the biggest difference maker
If I look at pretty much anything positive in my life, it’s hinged on relationships.
Spending time with the people I care about and enjoy.
Being supported by others, personally and professionally.
Investing in others to pay it forward.
It’s all a wonderful reminder that life is a team sport.
2. Quit trying to avoid change
Everything is continually changing around us.
Sometimes it’s more noticeable than others, but it’s always changing.
Embrace it and keep evolving.
3. Time is life
It’s often said that you can tell what’s important to someone by checking their bank statement and their calendar.
And it’s true, but the calendar is 80% of it.
Money is a renewable resource. Time is not.
That’s at the core of why I started my fitness-and-nutrition coaching business, which teaches a proven system to get lean, strong, and slow aging.
So you can lead by example, create your best life, and leave a legacy.
I don’t want to miss my kids growing up. Their growth feels like it happens in the blink of an eye and if I missed it, I wouldn’t get a "do over."
So when I’m not interested in something or someone, respectfully speaking, they just no longer get any of my time because that’s time I could be spending on people and activities that are important to me.
4. Fail forward
Spend more time catching people (including yourself) doing things right rather than punishing failures.
Society does not always recognize the fact that "failure" teaches valuable lessons.
Simply stated, you are sum total of your correct choices and incorrect choices.
5. Find gratitude in tough times
When you’re grateful your problems don’t disappear; however, they do occupy less space in your life.
6. Think better
Most people settle for so much less than they are capable of achieving.
You place these ceilings on yourself about what you can accomplish, how much you can earn, almost everything.
You know what the main difference between the average person and the one who thrives is?
It’s not their talent or ability. It’s what they’ll settle for. It’s what they think they’re capable of.
You often can do much more than you give yourself credit for.
7. Play to your strengths
I talk about this a lot, but it’s because there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t see the difference that it can make firsthand.
Look around at anyone you find to be successful in any endeavor. The successful ones are specialists.
Virtually everyone I know who achieves big things takes this approach.
On the other hand, most everyone I see who underachieves spends too much time on things that fall outside of their strengths.
Focus on being the best in a few areas.
8. Stop blaming others
Sure, others play a part in everything you do, but until you take responsibility for everything you can, you are perpetuating the problem.
It’s common to see a person blame someone for a hurdle along the way while simultaneously creating a dozen other hurdles for themself.
Don’t be that person. Control what you can control.
9. Who you surround yourself with makes a big difference
You are the average of the five people you’re around most.
I’m not sure if there is any magic in the number five, but I am sure that who you’re around is as important as any other factor when it comes to your success.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve spent a higher percentage of my time around people that lift me up in one way or another.
This one thing has improved my life immensely.
Spend more time with folks who add value or energy and less time with people who drain your energy.
You will be happier and more successful.
10. No one succeeds alone
I have a mom who has believed in me at every turn. Even when my dad questioned my direction, he supported me.
Sharon has believed in me even knowing that a failure on my part would adversely impact her too.
I’ve had a number of friends and colleagues who have believed and supported me along the way.
The truth is that you may choose your own path and your actions determine your outcomes; but without a support system in place it’s nearly impossible to stay the course.
Now I’ve been lucky in that regard but I've sought out friendships and masterminds to help make me better and that would inspire me to push ahead toward my goals.
You can find people who’ll support you, even if they aren’t with you today.
11. Efficiency isn't the goal, only the process
"Perfection is when there is nothing more to take away."
Not sure who originated that bit of wisdom, but it rings true with me.
I strive to do things in fewer steps, to be more efficient; however, effectiveness and enjoyment are much better things to aim for.
12. Live in the present
No matter how much time you spend thinking about the past, you can’t turn back the clock.
You can't rewind the tape.
And the most important thing you can do for the future is to do your best with the moment you’re in.
13. Caring is a competitive advantage
We have two fundamental rules at our house: Have manners and get a good night's sleep.
Characteristics like "nice" and "honest" and "courteous" are what most people associate with traits like integrity, authenticity, and anything else associated with being a good person.
It’s actually a competitive advantage in life.
It’s strange that simply "treating others how you want to be treated" can set you apart.
Not to sound like Old Man Winters, but in today's world of texting-while-driving and a having a general disregard for the welfare of others, being easy to work with and being genuinely interested in who you serve can be the foundation of a truly special life.
And, by the way, it's easier to be nice with a good night's sleep.
14. Find mentors
In person. Online, from afar. It doesn’t really matter.
Learn from those who’ve done it or are doing it now.
I am thankful to learn from everyone from Dale Carnegie and Yvon Chouinard, to my parents, to the people I’ve hired to mentor me.
Every human makes mistakes, but I’d prefer to make new ones rather than ones that my mentors could help me avoid.
15. Life is about people and not processes
You’ll never learn a more important lesson when it comes to success than this one.
Mindful nutrition plans and jump-start workouts are nothing more than vehicles to help you solve problems and achieve goals.
Processes and systems are little more than tools to help you be more productive, efficient or effective.
Everything starts with people.
People who have dreams and goals and problems. People who have dozens of things going on.
Put people first.
16. You can’t control it all
Some things are beyond your control, but you can control how you react to them.
Short and sweet.
17. Breaking through procrastination is simple
I procrastinate as much as anyone else, so when I run into a period of procrastination, the simplest way for me to get momentum is to take an action that is within my comfort zone.
A first step.
That step almost always is enough to get me into a rhythm.
18. You can't do everything at once
You can do almost anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want right now.
Any achievement of significance requires focus, so you have to dedicate the time and effort needed to make it happen.
That doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish everything that you want to (you very well may be able to), but you just may have to do some things sequentially instead of simultaneously.
19. Take small actions daily
Every day you’re either getting better or worse.
If you have a big goal, small actions compounded over time will guarantee your success.
20. It doesn’t matter what you know, it matters what you do
If you don’t apply something it’s wasted knowledge.
Imperfect action is critical for success.
Successful people often aren’t any smarter or more talented than you.
They just actually do the things everyone else only talks about doing.
21. Do the same thing you’ve always done and you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten
What does it take to lose 10, 50, or 100 pounds of bodyfat?
What do you have to do to boost your energy levels in the afternoon?
If you're feeling "old" how do you slow aging and get that spring in your step?
Every client who has transformed into the best version of themself has stepped out of their comfort zone to get there.
22. Never compromise your integrity, for anything or anybody
Simple but worth repeating.
23. If you want to know who someone really is give them money or power, or see them in the face of adversity
For some, it will spotlight their greatness, while for others, well, it will expose their flaws.
24. Deadlines are the difference between getting stuff done and just talking about it
All of my biggest successes have come with deadlines attached to them.
A goal without a realistic deadline is not very helpful to anyone.
25. Don’t make promises you can’t keep
More specifically, you must always do your best to under-promise and over-deliver.
26. Saying "no" to most things allows you to say "yes" to the best things
Truth is, success comes far more often to those who are awesome at a few things rather than those who are jacks-of-all-trades.
Consider saying "no" to more things in order to do the things you say "yes" to the better ones.
27. Your biggest limiting factor is your own mind
Consider your thoughts over the past 24 hours.
People tend to dwell on what's not working, and oftentimes your thoughts are dominated by problems and self-criticism.
Thankfully you can control your attitude with some practice.
28. Learn from others who’ve gone where you want to go
Whether it’s a learn-by-doing workshop or coaching strategy session, someone is basically condensing years of learning into a day or even an hour.
With a simple book from your local library, you can gain knowledge from experts who share their wisdom in a way that can dramatically accelerate your progress and magnify your success.
29. Be a better person today than we were yesterday
Every single day, strive to improve a few percentage points.
30. Don’t let complexity overwhelm you
Too much complexity creates feelings of overwhelm. And overwhelm will quickly paralyze your progress.
Simplicity is the foundation of success. Do the simple daily habits that encourage you to win.
31. You get what you earn
You’re not entitled to anything.
32. You are a product of your choices
Big choices, little choices. Everything adds up.
In fact, you may even start to look like your choices.
33. Successful people embrace personal responsibility
Spend your time around folks who take responsibility for their decisions.
And when you encounter those who blame everything but themselves for failures or shortcomings, excuse yourself politely and leave.
34. Invest in yourself
When you invest time, energy and money in yourself, you are more likely to be successful.
Over time you will improve the trajectory of your life.
35. There is far more opportunity available to you than you need in order to be successful
It’s what we do with the opportunity that determines your results.
36. Learn from your past
You don’t really get a clean slate; however, your previous choices can teach great lessons.
No, you can’t go back and make better decisions in your early 20s; however, you can learn from that stage of life, do better now, and teach others.
Don't dwell on the past, instead grow from it.
Life is about learning lessons in order to evolve into the best version of you.
37. Life isn’t always fair
Accept the fact that "some days you get the bear and other days the bear gets you."
Next step is to overcome challenges and make the most of right now.
38. You can’t help people until they want to help themselves
You could hand an obese person the proven blueprint for getting leaner and happier, yet they may be too depressed to make a change.
They might cast it aside because they don't value it and it's not a priority right now.
That statement speaks from 25+ years of coaching experience.
Really, you can’t want success for someone more than they want it for themselves.
39. Reverse engineer the life you want
Figure out what it looks like and work backwards from it to where you are today. That’s your treasure map.
40. You decide
You decide how you’ll spend your time, who you will help, what legacy you will leave, and pretty much everything else.
In order to be of use, you must take care of yourself first.
Start by blocking out time for healthy habits like smart training, mindful nutrition, managing stress, and getting deep sleep.
Family comes next and then what’s left is work stuff.
Don't get this twisted around.
Work is critical to your livelihood; however, not at the detriment of your health and family.
So, if you want to be healthier and happier, begin by deciding that it will happen instead of saying you wish it would happen.
Then to take the necessary actions to get there.
41. You are your competitive advantage
No one else can be you.
You’re already different and, in some areas, you’re probably already better than most.
Plus, you can continually develop, gain knowledge, and improve.
You just need to get going.
42. You find what you look for
Are you looking for opportunity, positive people, and learning experiences?
Or are you searching for problems, faults, and folks to blame?
It’s really up to you.
43. Win today
You don’t have to win big every day, but every day is an opportunity to win a little bit.
Today you have the opportunity to spend time with people you love, to move toward your goals, to take care of yourself, and to leave your world a bit better than it was yesterday.
Win enough days and you’ll reach those personal and professional goals, and enjoy the journey along the way.
44. Expectations matter
I’ve seen misplaced expectations create more stress than almost anything else.
Expectations of others, that they did not live up to, usually without even knowing.
Unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Like expecting yourself to "lose weight" in a month or two, when it took you years to gain the weight.
Maybe it's expecting to accomplish a week’s worth of "to dos" in 24 hours.
Perhaps it's performing in a way that you might have in the past and ignoring how circumstances have changed.
Or even manufacturing stress instead of celebrating success.
I think this might be the biggest mistake you can make for your own happiness.
Don’t fall into this trap.
45. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity
In life there is plenty of opportunity.
The key is being ready for it and mindful enough to notice when it’s there because sometimes it’s not very obvious.
46. Successful people implement quickly
Success loves speed.
You could say this in another way: Success hates procrastination.
When it comes to your simple daily habits of health, increase your speed of implementation.
Don't wait forever to get healthy.
47. What can you do better?
There are things outside of your control, but until you’ve done everything you can to move toward where you want to go… why worry about those external factors?
48. Ditch the "victim" mentality
Most people who aren’t happy or fail to achieve their goals almost always have a "victim mentality," which suggests that someone or something else is to blame for their situation.
It’s easy to blame outside circumstances and difficult to be self-aware.
Respectfully speaking, sometimes you are the problem.
49. Enjoy the process, not just the goal
When a client hits a huge health milestone, like losing 50 pounds of bodyfat, they celebrate for a week.
Then it's business as usual because now your goal shifts to maintenance of health.
Set out to build a life that you enjoy because there is no finish line.
In most cases, if the process was miserable, the result will be unfulfilling.
50. Success is about doing what you value
Do good work.
Be a good human.
Be a good parent, spouse, friend, family member, and teammate.
It’s an eternal pursuit and that’s part of the fun.
This doesn't need to be your definition of success.
The point is that you define your own version of success and pursue it daily.
If you’re reading this, there’s a chance that you’ve played a part in my 50 years, so thank you.
Hopefully one or two of these lessons might be of benefit to you or someone you care about.
Have a great day,
P.S. If you know someone who would appreciate this message, please feel free to share.
Joseph Arangio helps 40+ men and women get leaner, stronger, and happier. He's delivered over 100,000 transformation programs to satisfied clients around the globe. If you want to lose weight from home, with the best online personal trainer, or you want to visit the best personal trainer in the Lehigh Valley, you can take a free 14-day trial.