Not Getting All You Want from Life? Try These 8 Tips to Kick Things into High Gear

Not Getting All You Want from Life? Try These 8 Tips to Kick Things into High Gear
13 Jul 2015

Have you ever felt unsure about what to do with your life beyond working to pay the bills? Like most people, you don’t want to just exist; you want to live with purpose and fulfillment. The reality is, for many people, working toward being successful can be a scary concept. But as I approach the “Big 40”, I am looking at life with a fresh new lens, ready and willing to take on scary.

To gain some insights on how best to live a life of intention, I connected with Sharon Combs, a certified professional coach to nonprofit leaders, with more than 30 years of leadership experience. Below, Sharon shares eight tips on how we can reach and maintain our peak performance, whether it’s at home, work, or places in between. The key, Sharon shares, is to be clear about the goal and use our talents and the resources within our reach to optimize performance:


1. Laser-focus your goal. Clearly defining your goal is key to staying on top of your game. Start by developing a goal and interim goals that are easily understood. You can do this by defining specific behaviors you’ll achieve, by when you’ll achieve them, and how you’ll measure and keep track of your success. If you’re working with others to reach a goal, have a shared agreement about the definition of success and how you’ll maintain accountability. Be sure your goal is aligned with your values–qualities of life that are important and will help you make choices that are fulfilling.

2. Play to your natural talents and passions. Each of us has a greater potential to succeed in specific areas. The key to human development is building on who you already are. Studies show that people who have the opportunity to focus on their strengths every day are more likely to be engaged in their jobs and have an excellent quality of life in general. If you know your talents, use them. If you’re not sure what they are, take an assessment survey, such as StrengthsFinder, which identifies your five dominant talents. Then invest time practicing and developing your skills, and building your knowledge base. You’ll eventually have the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.

3. Surround yourself with a variety of positive relationships. Personal relationships with different types of people provide different perspectives on a situation and different insights about yourself. Seek and maintain relationships where there’s zest and good energy, and where you feel respected, respectful, empowered, and can learn from others who know more than you do and speak the hard truth. A good rule of thumb is to have a 3 to 1 ratio of positive relations to negative relations. What’s your ratio in the scan of your personal relationships?

4. Check out your physical environment. Your surroundings can have an impact on your ability to perform at your best. Ideally you want a space that’s conducive to the task at hand and devoid of toxicity. Take a look at your space and identify ways you can sculpt your environment so it supports you on your path to success.

5. Unleash your effective thinking. Knowing your standard way of thinking will help you understand how you process information and approach challenges. Do you tend to use inductive or deductive reasoning? Are you an auditory or visual learner? Answers to these questions will enhance your ability to think strategically.

6. Acknowledge your sabotaging beliefs. Your negative inner dialogue about yourself and how you interpret the world can trigger feelings of confusion, isolation, hopelessness, and resentment. We all experience moments like this. When the negative self-talk occurs, do not avoid it. Instead, face it. Spend time to try to understand it. Then manage it as a tool to leap to a position of courage and power. Ask yourself: Can I have a different relationship with this feeling? Can I access the excitement from work done well in the past and flip it forward? What lessons have I learned that I can use now to power forward and move on?

7. Engage daily in your self-care. Your top performance also calls for your brain activity and nervous system to be in optimal shape. Enhance your thinking power and function of your vital organs by maintaining a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and attending consistently to your medical needs.

8. Call on your transcendent resources. Last, but certainly not least, utilize your power of spirituality. This practice helps you rise above your ego and worldly limits and to stay calm under stress so you can see the bigger picture. It can also increase your capacity for compassion, resilience, and productivity. Engage in prayer, meditation, mindfulness, or use of your intuition in order to fortify your understanding of what you’ve been called to do and how to step fully into your best self.

My hope is that as I hone in and become more aware of my inefficiencies, I will regain and sustain the passion to move closer toward living my dreams.

I’m tired of starting projects only for them to end up buried in my computer files or in a storage bin wedged between a pile of books authored by names that are not mine. It’s time to get focused and bring out the writer in me.

So whether you rely on a virtual tool, a coach, or a combination of methods to help travel the sometimes windy roads of life, I personally believe a healthy relationship with Jesus is the best motivator for getting in the game and moving in the right direction.

As the Bible states, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NLT).

Photo, Angie Torres


What tools or tips have you used to get more out of life and reach your goals?



Shonda Smith

Shonda Smith is a freelance writer, editor, and event planner based in Brooklyn, New York, where she was born and raised. As a teenager, she was awarded the grand prize in the Barnard College Essay Contest for Young Women, and was published in The New York Times. For more than 15 years, Shonda honed her journalistic and event-planning skills at various organizations, including the Harlem Children’s Zone, Prince-Hall Publishing, and Girl Scouts of the USA. Her work has been featured in Honey Magazine, The Legislative Gazette,,, and more. You can also find her on her blog at and her online-based business, at Married to one of the smartest guys she knows, Shonda is also the doting mom of two beautiful children.


  1. Wow great tips thanks Shonda- and I can confirm that investing time in finding one’s strength through Strengths Finder is worth it. It also helps one understand their passion and hence propels one into their purpose.

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