The simple definition of excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” To excel in life, one must strive for excellence and push beyond their limits.
Excellence is not a goal that can be achieved. Rather, it is an unending process and a way of life. It is an attitude and a mindset that should work like a flex every day to be the best version of ourselves.
People often equate achieving excellence in life with perfectionism, but this is not true. Perfectionists always strive for the best and their biggest fear is failure and disappointment, which prevents them from taking risks. Excellence is the quite opposite; it involves taking risks and embracing the possibility of failure as a learning opportunity.
Excellence means making the most out of your abilities. To work hard on things you are already good at. You don’t have to be good in all aspects of life and that’s what makes you different from a perfectionist. Wanting excellence in life can help you create a healthy better version of yourself. On the other hand, striving for perfection in everything can be very unhealthy and toxic.
A life of excellence is a life full of opportunities. You can excel in anything, which gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction. In the process, you discover your interest and this way you get to learn more about yourself.
For a better understanding, we will start by finding the actual difference between perfectionism and excellence.
DISCLAMER: This article is comprehensive enough to cover almost everything about achieving excellence in life. You can use the TABLE OF CONTENTS to navigate to the topics that interest you the most!
Excellence vs Perfectionism:
Perfectionist is a term we all are familiar with. We always strive to achieve perfection in everything, and you can’t blame us, humans, for that. It can get both frustrating and exhausting if you don’t achieve what you are aiming for.
Excellence is a different virtue than perfection. Perfectionism is a personality trait characterized by unattainable expectations and standards. Though striving for higher standards is a good virtue. An unhealthy obsession with perfection is a negative personality trait that breeds uncertainty.
Striving for perfection is a wrong approach. It is like walking around without reaching anywhere.
Perfectionism and procrastination often go hand in hand, creating a toxic combination that prevents us from learning from our mistakes and failures.
It has been scientifically proven that targeted and deliberate practice can unlock the greatest potential that may seem like inborn talent.
It is in human nature to always strive, despite the circumstances, and this is what makes us unique. We all have qualities that differentiate us from others. Living a life of excellence is not easy; it requires hard work and determination to achieve our heart’s desires.
How to achieve Excellence in Life?
Excellence is a journey from the ordinary to the extraordinary versions of you. Healthy striving can make you a better person and can help you in many aspects of life.
To make things simple for you, here are ways you can get excellence in both your personal and professional life:
1. Believing in Yourself:
The main key is to believe in yourself. It can get hard for a lot of people to get out of their comfort zone but sometimes stepping out of your zone is all you need in life. Life is all about uncertainty and taking risks. If you do not take risks you will never be able to test your limits and see your potential.
Every human has different qualities that differentiate them from others. Working on yourself and believing in yourself can make a huge difference.
Once you believe in yourself you get more confident and strong. By identifying and addressing your weak areas, you can improve and become a better version of yourself. As you do this, you will likely find that more opportunities come your way, indicating that you are making productive progress.
Through this process, you will become a more self-assured and self-reliant individual who has a strong belief in their own abilities.
Excellence is not about positive experiences but the struggle and the journey to get to a point. You can make mistakes in the process but you will eventually learn from your mistakes.
Adopting the mindset of striving for excellence in life can open up numerous opportunities. The key is to remain motivated along the way, even on difficult days when working towards a goal.
2. Set High Standards for Yourself:
It is very important that you set a goal for yourself. Life is full of hurdles but that does not mean you should not try and avail opportunities. You need to know your limits so that you can work on yourself.
You will always settle for the bare minimum if you will not set some standards for yourself. Testing your limits and trying hard can be challenging at one point. You might also end up disappointed with the results but trying actually means striving for excellence! You get the best results after the hardest battles.
Set a benchmark for yourself!
3. Being in the Driving Seat:
It’s an important aspect of pursuing excellence in life that you control your life. You’ll never reach your destination if you’ve not taken full responsibility for your life.
If you are not driving the bus of your life, you will only be a part of other people’s travel plans. They say that only dead fish swims with the current. You must have the courage to claim responsibility for your life’s successes or failures.
Sometimes our culture and circumstances do not allow us to avail opportunities knocking at our door. We leave the decision of our worth to society and unrealistic expectations of people around us.
We humans depend on the opinion of others and let our culture determine if we are capable of something or not. We let our society decide if we are capable of achieving a higher level of excellence. All these things can stop us from identifying our strengths and weaknesses. You should never let such things hold you back.
Don’t let other people’s views influence you. Just focus on your goals and believe in yourself.
4. Desire, Vision, Focus, and Excel:
Desire, vision, and focus are key to achieving your goals. Without focus, paintings don’t get painted, buildings don’t get built, and your good energy gets scattered.
Everyone has some desire and vision but translating that vision into reality requires concrete actions starting with thoughts. Olympic athletes visualize their actions before executing them on the field.
We can’t focus on our destination unless we sort out our thoughts.
5. Create Positive Energy and Avoid Negativity:
We hold an incredible power to change our lives through a positive approach. Aim for excellence, create positive energy, and avoid negativity.
A positive approach leads to the path to excellence. If we change how we think, we will change how we feel. When we change how we feel, we change our behaviour. Positive behaviour changes our actions, and ultimately, we change the outcomes.
Positive outlook channels our thoughts into a ‘can do mentality’ to help achieve our goals. We have to remember the law of attraction. It is a belief that thoughts are a form of energy, and positive energy attracts success in all areas of life, including health, finances, and relationship.
Removing toxicity from your life is necessary for growth and happiness. Don’t be afraid to cut ties with toxic people who are negative and drain your energy. Surround yourself with people who lift you and help you thrive.
People can motivate you or drain you, so choose the people wisely.
6. Never Settle for Mediocrity:
Growth does not happen accidentally but rather deliberately. We have to spend time creating opportunities instead of waiting for them. Mediocrity is the opposite of excellence.
Your work never decides your worth. People can judge you for being a perfectionist but let them say what they want to. You should never settle for less. Especially when you know what you are capable of.
You will only get to know your full potential once you take on a difficult task. Settling for mediocrity will leave you unsatisfied and disappointed in yourself.
Always trust yourself and work on that goal. You can always achieve excellence in anything you work for. Confidence and self-belief can open many doors of opportunities and you will be surprised to see what life offers you.
Following are the mindset attributes to help you aim high and not settle for averageness that settles for good enough.
- Never wait to be inspired. Instead, find a way to get inspired.
- Always embrace discomfort and uncertainty.
- Dare to take risks, even when it feels risky or scary.
- Keep challenging your assumptions, always learning something new, and never settle for anything less than excellence.
7. Find Ways to Let Go of Self-Doubt:
The attitude of self-doubt is a lack of confidence regarding your abilities and yourself. It holds you back from believing in yourself. Following are some pieces of advice to get rid of self-doubt:
- Always say three positive affirmations about yourself at the beginning of every day.
- Whenever you feel the urge to quit, take time to think about your past achievements.
- Never compare yourself with others. You have to be a better version of yourself only.
8. Know Your Limits and Own Your Mistakes:
We feel exhausted, irritable, and nervous when we take on too much more than we can handle. A conscious self-awareness about accepting your limits will save you from headaches. Self-knowledge and acceptance of limitations will have a sense of proportion.
This acceptance will do your search for greatness in your hard work. Being realistic and pragmatic is what makes us humans so powerful. Following are some key lessons in understanding your limitations.
- You must thoroughly understand your energy levels and how far you can reasonably push yourself.
- You must have a solid grasp of your social position because you cannot please everyone.
- You must listen to your body as it signals to you when working against your strengths.
- You must remind yourself that you are only one person among many in the world and not naturally superior to anyone.
- You can not control the people around you, and no strategy is ever foolproof.
- You need to play to your strengths and not imagine you can be great at whatever you put your mind to.
9. Get Rid of Procrastination to Stay Motivated:
Procrastination is “Voluntarily delaying an intended course of action, despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.” The consequences of procrastination are enormous in our lives. It leads to stress, guilt, disappointment, and anxiety. Our personal or professional relations suffer as promises and expectations go unfulfilled.
Spend your time on achieving that goal. You don’t have to be disappointed when the going gets tough. Your first try might fail but that does not mean the ending will always be like this. Cherish the learning process and take every failure as a lesson. With this mindset, you will always achieve what you will aim for.
Here are some procrastination-beating strategies.
- Break down big tasks into smaller ones.
- Use favourite distractions as rewards.
- Starting with the tasks left to last.
- Begin with a ten-minute activity to get going.
- Changing the environment to restrict distractions and set new routines.
- Setting a specific and regular time to start work; the earlier, the better.
- Make two lists: a daily list and a weekly list, which are connected and specific.
10. Master Your Emotional Self:
Whenever anything goes wrong or gets tough, we naturally seek an explanation. Not finding some cause for why our plans went wrong would be deeply disturbing and intensify our pain. Instead of finding the root cause, we tend to blame it on other people, circumstances, or bad luck.
Our first task should be to look at those emotions continually infecting our ideas and self-esteem. Emotions tend to narrow our minds, making us focus on one or two ideas that satisfy our immediate desire for power and emotions. In short, never become hostage to your irrational emotions. Here are some lessons to control your emotions to master excellence in your life.
- Don’t be afraid to know yourself thoroughly. Our emotional self thrives on ignorance. The moment you know how it operates and dominates you is the moment it loses its hold and can be tamed.
- Examine your emotions to their roots. Whether angry, sad, paranoid, or envious, you must cultivate a habit of looking square in the eye of it. Maintaining a journal to record your self-assessment with ruthless objectivity is wise. Find a neutral position where you can observe your actions with detachment and humour.
- Lastly, increase your reaction time. This power comes with repetition and practice. You must train to step back and observe when some event or interaction requires a response. You’ll find that true perspective comes with time. Cool the emotions. The longer you can think, the better.
11. Elevate Your Perspective and Focus on Your Goals:
With an elevated perspective, you will have the patience and clarity to pursue almost any objective. Never lose sight of your long-term goals. Looking back on our lives, we tend to be impatient and overreactive. We notice patterns of behaviour over long periods. Those patterns elude us at the moment but become clearer to us later. You must practice the following habits to get a true perspective of your life.
- Remind yourself that proving a point or winning an argument really gets you nowhere.
- Win through your actions, not your words.
- Create a ladder of values and priorities in your life.
- If you think that a particular battle is, in fact, important, with a greater sense of detachment, you can plot a more strategic response.
12. Advance with a Sense of Purpose:
Unlike Animals, humans have to rely upon their conscious decisions. We do our best when it comes to our career paths and handling the inevitable setbacks in life. But in the back of our minds, we can sense an overall lack of direction.
People often face tough questions like ‘How we ended up in this job or this place?’. Such drifting can lead to dead ends. To avoid such a fate is to develop a sense of purpose and discover your calling. Here are some benefits of following a purposeful life of excellence.
- With a sense of purpose, we feel much less insecure.
- With a sense of purpose, we can turn anxiety and stress into productive emotions.
- By following a purpose, we are less prone to depression.
- When we have a purpose, even death can lose its sting.
- The fact that what we have accomplished will outlive us, we don’t have a debilitating feeling of losing our potential.
13. Practice Self-Care:
Self-care is “a multidimensional, multifaceted process of purposeful engagement in strategies that promote healthy functioning and enhance well-being.”
It is a conscious act promoting physical, mental, and emotional health. You cannot take on life’s challenges without caring for your body and mind first.
Self-care is very important when it comes to excellence. You can only make the right decision about your life when you are in the right state of mind. Your body and mind play a great role in your life. If you are not physically and mentally fit there is no way you can achieve your goals.
You need to take good care of your well-being. Take some time out to reflect and plan things out. Striving for excellence can get a little overwhelming at times. You can feel like a failure at one point but with the right direction, you can always overcome any problem. Plan your time according to your goals so you do not end up procrastinating
If working on your goal gets too much you can always ask for help from your friends and family. Sometimes your loved ones provide a positive outlook They help you to grow and have a better perspective on life.
There is nothing more important than the well-being of your physical and mental state. You do not have to be perfect in everything. Take things easy and always remember. Slow and steady wins the race! so give yourself time and the love you deserve.
Following are some helpful tips to take care of yourself.
- Engage in relaxing activities.
- Make sleep a priority.
- Eat healthily, have regular meals, and stay hydrated.
- Set goals and priorities.
- Learn healthy ways to process your emotions.
- Engage in spiritual practices.
- Engage in activities that mentally stimulate you.
- Manage face-to-face time with your friends and loved ones.
Sadly people don’t understand that taking care of the needs of the body and mind is a necessity rather than a luxury. Following are some of the benefits of a healthy routine of caring for yourself.
- It reduces anxiety and depression.
- It reduces stress and improves resilience.
- It improves happiness levels.
- It boosts your energy.
- It reduces burnout.
- It strengthens interpersonal relationships.
14. Give the very Best:
If you want to have excellence in life you have to get out of your comfort zone. You might think that striving for excellence is an easy journey. But that is not true, you will face a number of problems and hard times during this journey. Everything is attainable in life if you work for it and the same is the case with excellence.
You have to set a goal for yourself and then give your very best to achieve what your heart desires. You have to prove to everyone that you are capable of achievement. Once you start working on your goal you will find yourself getting satisfaction from the little achievements.
What you can do is list down your goal. Practice it daily and see the difference yourself. It can be anything that sets you apart from others. Sports, academics cooking anything. You do not have to be good at everything but availing opportunities related to your interest will open a number of doors for you.
Always ask yourself: “Did I give my 100%?” and you will find the answer to why you are facing failure.
15. Always Expect the Best:
Life is all about how you perceive things. Always work hard for your goals and try your level best. But never get disappointed by a failure.
Failure is part of the learning process. If you do not fail you don’t learn important lessons. See failure as a chance to learn from your mistakes.
Share your knowledge with your loved ones. Reflect on your actions and spread positivity. It’s just not the outcome that matters but the journey and your behaviour also plays a major role.
No matter what the outcome is do not get disappointed. Always believe in yourself and trust the process. It might take some time to achieve it but good things take time. And if you do not get the desired outcome. Change your methods and see where is the fault. Do more practice as practice makes a man perfect.
16. Take Pride in your Work:
No matter what you do and how you do it, always be confident about it. Continuously attempt to progress and do better than you did previously. This way, you’ll never be unsatisfied with the outcome. You will always drive yourself to reach new levels of success.
In this process, you’ll also learn about yourself and your capability. Always celebrate your little achievements regardless of how small they are This way you give a healthy signal to your mind and you will feel good about yourself.
Excellence is a journey that never ends. One must remind himself that maybe he will fail again today. Maybe he will succeed. Either way, you take one step forward toward your goals. The more steps you take, the faster you will get there. So, keep moving forward. When you achieve a certain level of success, you tend to become content and lose your enthusiasm.
The Path to Excellence means Continuous Improvement.
The key to success is to learn from your mistakes and give your hundred per cent. Leave the rest to the universe. What matters is you try for achieving that goal.
All you have to do is believe in yourself, and work on your goals. You should always value the process and not the outcome. Working for your goal can get exhausting and you might not get the results you desire. But that does not mean you should never try for it.
Colin Powell said:
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude”.
Always strive for excellence in life and do not drive yourself crazy for achieving perfection!