10 Ways to Empower Yourself

A while back, when I used to commute to New York every day from coastal Connecticut, I saw a poster on the train. It was an ad from FactSet, a business information provider, and it read: "Empowering Financial Professionals For Over 30 Years."

Financial professionals clearly need specialized information to empower their decisions, but today's post is about empowering yourself: giving yourself the juice you need to accomplish your goals and live your dreams. Here are a few short suggestions for how you can plug in to your innate energy sources, amp up your activity level, and start to shine more brightly.

  1. Listen to yourself. This sounds so obvious, but so few people actually do it. Most people listen to others and not only value but also act on their opinions before they listen to themselves. Does anyone understand you better than yourself? Can anyone else guide you more effectively on the journey to what you desire? Should anyone's voice resonate more strongly for you than your own? I'm not advising you to ignore the often wise counsel that others can provide. But don't follow it blindly or minimize the importance of your own thoughts and feelings. And definitely illegitimi non carborundum.
  2. Don't be afraid of failure. You can't succeed without taking risks, and you can't take risks without occasionally, or even frequently, failing. Failures are steps, detours perhaps, but valid steps on your journey. You'll never get there if you let the fear of falling (failing) prevent you from starting to walk.
  3. Express yourself. Do something expressive every day, whether it is writing, making art, taking photographs, or making a music mix. You decide. It has to be something you enjoy, and you have to do it consistently.
  4. Get help. If you need help in areas where your skills are insufficient, ask for help from other people. We need other people, with greater skill or more experience, to teach us how to do things. This can include therapy, which helps us understand ourselves better. We just don't need other people to tell us what to think.
  5. Eliminate clutter and distractions. Think about how much time you spend on activities that don't move you forward, and how much time you waste as a result of disorganization. We all need to indulge in mindless pursuits and vegetate to recharge and recalibrate. I'm not saying you shouldn't watch television or play computer games. I am saying that surrounding yourself with clutter creates internal confusion, and that giving in to distractions - including the distraction of reorganizing the clutter instead of actually uncluttering - holds your progress back. Create your clean, well-lighted place, and get to work.
  6. Let down your guard. If you go through life with walls up to protect yourself from everything, you're keeping out the good and healthy as well as the bad and dangerous. Let your emotional immune system do its work. If you're living your life in a bubble, you'll never experience anything. And that means you'll never learn anything. So open up.
  7. Understand where your responsibility ends and someone else's begins. You are responsible for your own happiness. You can contribute to the happiness - or sadness - of others, but you are not responsible for making other people feel happy, meaning no one should tell you their happiness depends on you. You have enough burdens of your own. Don't take on the burdens of others. You'll not only overload yourself but also enable the other person to depend on you in a dysfunctional way.
  8. Stop trying to save the world. You can't. No one can. We can only do what we're capable of doing, which is more for some of us and less for others. Unless you are Bill Gates, or a similar player on the world stage, try to limit your efforts and influence to areas where you can truly make a difference. This can be as simple as being a good parent or partner, helping a friend in need, or doing a little volunteer work. Leave the rest to others.
  9. Embrace your day. Every day provides us with new opportunities, a new set of experiences, and a fresh start. Don't let what happened yesterday bog you down. It's fine to reflect and learn from experience, but don't let yesterday's bad mood or unfortunate incident color today. Keep moving forward, and don't look back.
  10. There is no 10. Ten is whatever special thing or things you do to feel good about yourself and empower yourself with the energy to keep going strong. I'd love it if you'd share your tens with me in the form of comments.

Onward and upward!

Originally published on Tom Aplomb

Photo---Håkan Dahlström/Flickr