If your goal is to succeed at achieving your dreams, you’ll need the right effort. Buddhism has “the right effort” as one tenet in its eightfold path toward enlightenment. But the right effort applies to all aspects of life, whether it be to relationships, academics, careers, or any goal you choose.
So, here are ways to better acquire the right effort needed for success:
Focus on the process, not the outcome.
If you focus on the process, while refining it along the way, you’ll get better results and a clearer frame of mind. Also, you can’t focus on the process if you’re focused on the results. One smart lady a friend of mine knew would freeze up and fail during exams. She had an “it’s life or death” approach during exams rather than taking it one question at a time. So, focus on what is immediately before you, rather than how it’s going to turn out.
Strive for high quality work.
When you reach for higher standards, you gain better results. The vision of a magazine-worthy brochure rather than a social-media style brochure can stretch your creativity. But remember to focus on the process: study magazine-worthy brochures, take courses on design, create a portfolio of brochures, hire an art coach, and so forth, until creating quality is second nature.
Relax just enough but stay alert.
When in exams, you might feel overstimulated. To relax enough to perform at peak, scan the exam before answering any questions. Read the instructions for each section. If it’s a short exam, read all the questions. Once, I read all the questions on an exam and had no idea how to solve a single one. But the questions were being solved in mysterious ways by my subconscious. When I set out to finally answer them, the answers would “appear” in my mind. I ended up with the top grade. By scanning the exam in advance, I was able to relax more than had I tackled the questions clueless. Find ways to relax during high-stress scenarios.
And, during downtime, focus on ways to improve your skills.
To give the right effort, use downtime to gain skills and to develop yourself. Whatever you do, don’t use downtime for worry, anger, blame, jealousy, or fear. Place your efforts on positivity only. Time’s too short for a second spent in negativity.
Don’t get attached to naysayers.
If people criticize your efforts, then take their feedback only in ways that help you improve your game. Whatever you do, don’t let naysayers crush your spirit or bring you to tears. Try to enjoy their feedback. Try to find, not necessarily a glimmer of truth in it, but a glimmer of value. Turn it into a fun game.
Avoid doubt, worry, ill intentions, and laziness from within.
Replace all negativity and sloth with positive efforts. (A lack of energy, however, could be sign of a medical condition.)
When feeling blue, focus on the joy.
That means, don’t get attached to negative feelings. In other words, don’t “honor your feelings,” especially if they make you or others feel bad. Replace them with happiness, loving-kindness, and optimism. With a smile, your efforts will flow more smoothly.
When not in a state of joy, be in a state of peace.
Be at peace with the outer world and your inner world, no matter what evolves. You may not like certain outcomes or behaviors, but if you can find a way to be at peace with it all, chances are you’ll stay more firmly put in a place of joy.
Ensure your activities all align with your goals. If some activity is not consistent with your key goals, don’t engage it. As soon as you find yourself spending ten minutes viewing a distant friend’s birthday party extravaganza on social media, ask yourself, “Is this aligned with my goals?” Make sacrifices to ensure you apply the right effort.
Focus on the task at hand.
This focus is part of being “in the moment.” Don’t worry about the small stuff, like slights, gossip, or anything that might cause you concern. Focus instead entirely on the task at hand.
Try not to judge events as they unfold.
And try not to judge others’ roles in the events. Instead of judging events, look within. Evaluate the strengths you demonstrated that you can develop. Or evaluate the weaknesses you demonstrated that you can replace with more constructive, often opposite, behaviors.
Perhaps the right effort is most evident when you’re excited about the goal, strictly focused on the task, and committed to let nothing negative impede your success.