What should you do if you’re terrified that you might screw up your life?
This question is way more common than most people think. Especially now that college graduations are around the corner, it is dawning on you that the days of set class schedules, assigned papers, and predictable days are over.
Welcome to real life!
That is the chorus your parents and distinguished graduation speakers appear to be singing.
But what in the world is real life, anyway? And how do I even know I won’t screw it up?
First Things First: There Are No Guarantees in This Life
This section could also be called, “Be Ready to Face Your Fair Share of Life’s Disappointments.”
Once you get this fact straight, you will take very few things in life personally.
There are no guarantees in this life.
There is no rule that just because you finished college with top honors that you will get a job to match it.
There is no rule that guarantees that your car will not get into an accident tomorrow and cost you a few hundred dollars to fix.
There is no guarantee that a relationship you thought was going so well will not abruptly end for one reason or another.
There are no guarantees.
Accept this and you will have an easier time navigating through life because you will accept the reality that you will be disappointed at some point in your life and that it is not entirely abnormal for this to happen.
Even with Disappointments, It Is Possible to Rise Up Again
So much emphasis has been placed on IQ for so long.
And so it is refreshing to see that in more recent times, research around the idea of grit, persistence, emotional intelligence, and mental toughness is coming to the forefront.
How are some people able to go through tragedies and heal from those events and go on to live productive lives while others go through similar events and never recover?
The answers may be varied but in some instances, a person’s level of emotional intelligence accounts for the difference between the two individuals described above.
If you feel you are going to screw up your life despite evidence to the contrary, could it be that you need to develop mental toughness?
Yes, mental toughness is something you can develop.
Famed researcher Angela Duckworth and her group have found that in both school children and military cadets at West Point, about 50 to 60% of the time, a person’s ability to succeed depended on their level of mental toughness.
More than intelligence, natural talent, or financial resources, mental toughness was the indicator of whether people would succeed.
Five Tips on Building Mental Toughness
1. Decide that you deserve a great life in spite of what may have happened to you in the past.
2. Decide on a routine or a set of daily rituals that allow you to, at the very least, have some control of your day. For instance, you may may decide that the first hour of your day is committed to putting your mind and body in a frame that allows you to succeed.
An example of such a routine might look like this:
- 6:00 a.m. — Wake up and brush teeth
- 6:05 a.m. to 6:10 a.m. — Drink a glass of water
- 6:10 a.m. to 6:35 a.m. — Exercise for 30 minutes
- 6:40 a.m. to 6:55 a.m. — Read five pages of a book
Even with this simple routine, you can already tell that if this is something you practice on a daily basis, you will be well on your way to living a productive life.
3. When you make a mistake, instead of judging yourself for it, take stock of what happened and identify places where you could have done better.
4. Have a support system of like-minded people. In the book, Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill calls such a support system, a mastermind.
Having a group of like-minded people you check in with regularly is helpful when you are on a journey to live successfully. Websites like Meetup can help you locate local groups that have goals like yours.
5. Take the time to celebrate your wins along the way.
Find a Mentor
A mentor comes in so many ways.
You don't need to be geographically close to a person in order for them to mentor you.
You can be mentored through books, videos, courses, seminars, and conferences.
The idea here is to find someone who inspires you to be better and allow that person's words to ring true in your head.
If you're not sure how to find a mentor, ask yourself this question: "What do I want my life to be like in the next 5 to 10 years?"
Perhaps in the next 5 to 10 years, you want to have a stable job, pay off your debt, and have enough money saved up for a down payment on a home.
Whom in your life has done all these things?
If nobody you know personally has done these things, are there bloggers you admire who have achieved these goals? Pay close attention to their advice then.
Millions of people before you have felt the exact way you are feeling right now. It is very normal to be fearful about the future.
The good news, however, is that the power to carve out a positive and productive life does in fact lie in your hands.
The tips in this post are a primer to help you steer the ship in the right direction.
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments below.