When I started University back in the 80’s just like everyone else who was starting, and those who had started just the same way for years before me and after me, I was on a mission to follow the program, learn the curriculum, pass the exams and graduate!

Along the way, I knew I was going to experience epic parties, all-nighter study sessions, lack of sleep, sleeping through class, sleeping in class, meeting friends, new relationships, break-ups, F’s, D’s, C’s, B’s and A’s!

It would all likely happen, and I would get through it, and on the other side I would be something, or somebody! I would go out and get a job, I would arrive in the real world and off I would go to earning money!

Money! Ya! I would have money, real money!

Not have to collect beer bottles after parties at my residence and bring them to the grocery store for five cents a piece so I could have enough to buy some Kraft dinner, and maybe on a good night, some wieners.

Enough money so I could really afford to go out for dinner, maybe order a good bottle of wine, maybe own a “new” car, and maybe one day own a house instead of renting a dingy apartment.

I believed, as did most of us who enrolled in university, that my raison d’etre was to get a job and make a living! If I made a good living, I would be successful. If I somehow did better than that, well hey, I would be living la vie da loca!

I believed it when I started University, and I still believed it when I graduated.

I recently read a book where the author quoted, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal”.

What I have come to realize since graduating university, and immersing myself in a professional life, is that what I do is not who I am.

I have realized that who I am is much deeper than what I do, and that in order for me to feel as though I am truly on a pathway to success I must be reaching towards my own worthy ideal.

There is no definition of what that is for every person, no mandatory pathway or script. Ultimately we are all on a different path and will reach toward our own worthwhile life when it aligns with our spirit and energy.

But there are a few golden rules worth considering along the way. Ones I wish I knew when I was much younger than today.

The first golden rule is that mindset is the most important part of living a successful life.

Most of the prevailing research on mindset today resonates around the concept of fixed versus growth mindset.

The fixed mindset is dogmatically negative, connecting all the perhaps difficult things we deal with every day with a negatively associated death spiral.

In essence, in the fixed mindset all the shitty things that happen to us happen for a reason and most of the time, we attribute it to bad circumstances rather than our mindset, how we perceive the experience.

You see nothing is bad or good we just like to label it so, based on our own personal experiences and bias.

In a growth mindset, everything that happens to us is really just an experience and usually these experiences bread opportunity.

The problem is that if we spend all our time dwelling on the label we have affixed to that experience, we often miss the opportunities that arise all around it.

A simple one that happens to most of us often enough is just trying to find parking! I see a spot, I drive towards it, and someone else grabs it!

A fixed mindset tells me to blow up! How dare that person take that spot from me! Couldn’t he/she see I was about to take it?

We start blasting the other person, yelling at them and yelling in our own little bubble about all the injustices of the moment. Instead of actually noticing that another spot freed up, just up ahead, and because we were too focused on what just happened to us, we missed it as well!

Opportunity missed.

This is but a simple example, we do this every day with so many other sometimes more significant realities like relationship break ups, or job losses. We get transfixed on what happened, rather than focused on where the next opportunity lies within.

A growth mindset allows us to see the opportunity, it relieves us of the label, and allows us to simply observe life as it comes at us rather than react to it and become embroiled in it.

The second golden rule I wish I knew before I started my higher education is the law of “consistency”.

The law of consistency is simply this; if I apply a reasonable amount of effort towards a task, skill, project or goal, and I do it consistently every day, I will eventually achieve it.

Sounds simple enough, right?

Well it doesn’t end up to be as simple as it should be, as most of us don’t do this very well and as such, we often miss out on achieving a lot of things that in our minds eye, we would like to achieve. We give up too soon. We ebb and flow on our effort, on our commitment, or our actual getting it done!

If you want to get good at something, apply the law of consistency!

Golden rule number three lives off the back of the law of consistency. If you want to have a lot of money one day, you have to invest.

Investing money, even just a little money, regularly and consistently in blue chip investments will yield an eventual financial bounty. It’s just an absolute fact.

However, most of us fail to do it early enough, consistently enough, and with a complete commitment to the long-term.

Get rich quick? Ya, it happens, it happens to some people who win the lottery in life. But if your approach focuses on how to do that, and you miss the boat on the long-term approach and the application of the law of consistency, well, you will likely never have what you perhaps desire.

Which brings me to the fourth golden rule; stop focusing on the money!

There are actually three kinds of currency in life:

1 — Money

2 — Time

3 — Energy

We tend to get focused on having as much of the first as we can get. And we unfortunately spend a lot of the other two currencies in our life trying to get it!

Instead, focus on how you use your time and energy most efficiently and effectively. Then the money will come!

We all need to do a “time audit” on our life on a regular basis. Where do I waste time during my day? What actions am I doing that are taking me towards my goals of achieving a worthy ideal, and what actions am I doing that are not?

Time is a very limited resource, we only have so much available to us, and all of us have no real idea when it will run out on us.

So good heavens, let’s not waste time!

Everyone needs to take the time to identify what things we do in life that inspire or recover energy and what things suck energy from our being.

It might be tasks, projects, environments, or even other people in our lives that either, bring energy to us, or they take energy away. Once we know these, we need to work towards removing or minimizing the energy OUT elements, and maximizing the energy IN elements.

When our time is accounted for, and our energy is strong, we can do anything, and money will most certainly accumulate.

The final golden rule I wish I knew long ago before I started out on my journey of life. Plan your life! Plan it, prepare it, review and revise it, and execute it — don’t be a passenger! And celebrate your life daily! That’s the bonus rule.

Build yourself a 3–5 year plan. What do you want your life to look and feel like in 3–5 years? Don’t be afraid to dream big. As Bill Gates purportedly said once, “most of us over estimate what we can do in a year, and under estimate what we can do in five.”

Now reverse engineer the plan!

What does it need to look like halfway? What does it need to look like in a year?

Now take year one and break it into quarters. What do you need to do in each quarter to help you move towards that vision?

Now break each quarter into weeks and establish what you have to do in week one to get started.

Each week, review what you’ve done, revise the plan, then wake up each day and execute the plan.

Every day, at the end of the day, celebrate what you achieved. Count your wins!

Most of us finished school and thought we’d get a job, and then we’d settle down, have kids, and build a life.

Most of us wake up one day and realize that getting on that boat and passively waiting for it to arrive at port led to an awful lot of disappointment or miss-direction.

You get but one life on this earth, use these Five Golden Rules to make it an amazing adventure. Start living the Golden Rules anytime, they work just as was well if you’re 21 or 75, just live them!

Originally published at medium.com