Learning how to master your life can be the most amazing yet challenging experience. These critical skills and lessons are invaluable to your success in business and life. Unfortunately most of us were not taught these skills in college or as we prepared for our careers and lives. People who take the time to commit themselves to personal development, discipline and good habits are the high-achievers who excel. Whether you made the Dean’s List or not is irrelevant. When you learn to control your mind, you will be empowered to succeed.

Personal development is an ongoing process. Here are 20 proven real-life strategies to help you:

1. Cultivate a positive attitude. You are in complete control of your attitude and outlook. It’s a mind game and it’s an “inside job.” When you approach each moment of the day with a bright and optimistic view, your world will unfold with blessings and goodness.

2. Drop your old stuff. Imagine walking around every day with heavy metal garbage cans filled with old junk shackled to your ankles. It would be very difficult to move ahead with ease and comfort. Too many of us spend our lives dragging around with emotional baggage that doesn’t serve us well. You may need to talk to a counselor, confront someone or write a letter and then burn it. Acknowledge the pain and move on. It will set you free.

3. Wake up early. No matter how tired or busy you are, take at least five minutes in the morning before anyone else is awake to sit alone quietly. You may want to read something inspirational, meditate, or take a walk outside to greet the new day. These few minutes will bring you peace of mind in a busy world.

4. Use your mental resources to achieve unbridled success. Study books on positive self-talk, daily affirmations and visualization. Talk to people who use these strategies to achieve their goals. Integrate them into your own daily routine. When you learn to discipline your mind, your life will completely change for the better.

5. Avoid spending time with energy drains and “naysayers.” People who complain and are negative will quickly deplete your energy and steal your joy. Limit your time with poisonous people. Surround yourself with positive people who will inspire and encourage you. Remember you can not change anyone else. You can only change yourself.

6. Take time to think and read. You probably use a calendar or electronic gadget to keep track of your meetings, appointments and projects. Schedule a small block of time each day to think and read. These two activities can significantly enrich your life and mind.

7. Commit yourself to a life of learning. Turn off the television and radio and fill your mind with information and knowledge that can help you to be successful. If you drive a lot, listen to a motivational or educational CD. Read at least one book a month. Learn from some of the greats by reading biographies on Ghandi, Harry Truman, Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou and Bill Gates. Read on-line newsletters and articles about successful people you’d like to emulate. Success leaves clues.

8. Fail forward. An experience is not a failure if you have learned from it and can apply it to your life. If something doesn’t pan out as you had hoped, when you are down on the ground, be sure to pick up a lesson or valuable insight. That’s called a stepping stone to success. If you learned something, you did not fail.

9. Keep a journal. You don’t have to be a good writer but a journal is a wonderful tool to record your feelings, thoughts and activities. It’s a great timeline for future reference.

10. Write down your goals. Keep a visual reminder of your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly goals. When we write things down, we activate our subconscious minds to move forward towards our target. Be sure to keep your list in a place that you can see it every day. It’s a great motivator.

11. Be in the moment. That means that wherever your feet are, your head is. In other words, stop the relentless mental soundtrack playing 24/7 that distracts you from paying true attention to conversations and situations. By silencing your mind and pushing away mental interruptions, you will be more fully engaged in the present moment as life unfolds. Your relationships will thrive.

12. Tell the truth. Honesty is based on the principle of integrity. Always tell the truth.

13. Expect good things to happen. When we anticipate good things, they usually happen. If you expect happiness, love, abundance and success, they will start showing up in your life. If you look for bad things, these will show up as well. It’s like ordering food in a restaurant. You generally get what you ask for. What we think about, we bring about.

14. Always do your best. Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions including what to wear, which route to drive, what to eat for lunch, whether to start a project or call an old friend. In each moment, you must consider your options and do your best. Your best will vary. If you have a cold on Tuesday and didn’t have a good night’s sleep, your best will not be the same on Friday when you feel better and are well rested. Every day we have countless possibilities to do our best.

15. Nurture people who are near and dear to you. Let them know how you feel. Whether it’s a handwritten letter, an electronic greeting card, a phone call or a conversation over lunch, telling people how much you care about them and why, can have a wonderful impact on both of you. Tell them now.

16. Avoid procrastination. When something needs to be done, get right to it. Putting it off will only cause stress and anxiety. You may not realize it, but something as minor as running an errand can fester in our minds and bodies. Actor Denzel Washington lives by the credo: “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.”

17. Give freely to people. When you dedicate your life to the philosophy of “What can I give you?” without expecting anything in return, the entire universe will shift for the better. Focus on being of service to other people in every situation you encounter. Shift from being a “go-getter” and to a “go-giver.”

18. Be punctual, or early. Do your best to arrive at least 5-10 minutes early for appointments. When you are early for meetings and appointments, you are considerate of other people’s time. It also helps you to walk in without being frazzled, annoyed or stressed.

19. Hold yourself accountable. Do not blame other people. Take full responsibility for your actions and words. It’s a sign of maturity.

20. Understand the quality of charisma. Charisma is defined as appeal, charm, magnetism and allure. It’s a magical quality that most leaders possess. These are people who look and act like winners. They tend to have big dreams and reach for them. People with charisma show kindness and empathy towards others. They are interested in the people they encounter, have a strong sense of humor and are known for their strength of character. Watch them and learn from them.

Author's Bio: 

Susan Young is a professional speaker, author, entrepreneur and award-winning media and communications expert. Through her company, Get in Front Communications, she speaks to business professionals and college students about leadership, communication, emotional intelligence, motivation, diversity and women’s issues. Her new book, Communicating with Confidence: Tips & Techniques for Powerful Business Communication is available at www.getinfrontcommunications.com. Susan has been in the communications industry for 25 years. She is a member of the National Speakers Association. Call (210) 375-6422 or e-mail syoung@getinfrontcommunications.com. .