16 Tips for Establishing the Right Mindset for Living a Life of Personal Excellence

Underachievement …

Frustration …

Below-average money …

Three things you want to avoid in life.

The best way to do that as a freelance writer?

Don't offer below-average work to your clients.

Success expert Brian Tracy reminds us in his book Goals: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible that the amount of money you make is directly tied to how well you do your job.

  • If the work you do is below average, you'll receive below-average pay.
  • If it's just average, you can expect average pay.
  • But if you offer excellent work, you will receive excellent pay.

According to Tracy, if you make a commitment to become excellent and always deliver excellence, you can expect to make three, four, five, or even 10 times as much as your peers who have not made that commitment.

That means to be a successful writer with the life and kind of money you've always imagined, you must make personal excellence part of your overall mission in life.

To help you get in the right mindset, I've compiled 16 tips and things to remember in your pursuit of excellence:

  1. Do what most others refuse to do – Someone once said, "Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do." How true that is. The people who find true success in life are the ones who, instead of spending all night in front of the television, are busy working or improving their skills in some way. Don't be complacent and just get by. Take those extra steps. Get up half an hour earlier each morning and promote yourself on LinkedIn. Set aside one night a week to take a course that will broaden your writing skill set. Always be reading a new book whose goal is to make you more successful …

  2. Let your music play In Zig Ziglar's audio program "Goals: How to Set Them, How to Reach Them," he quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes …

    "The great tragedy is not the waste of our natural resources, although that is a great tragedy, the real tragedy is the waste of human resources. And that the average individual will go to their grave with their music still in them."

    You were born with natural talents. Your job is to develop those abilities as you make your way through your life. Make a vow not to go to your grave with your song still in your heart. If you've always wanted to write a novel, non-fiction book, or screenplay, put a plan together and get started on it immediately.

  3. Avoid the trap of the poor performer – In Goals, Tracy writes that if you're weak in a particular area, it's very common to fall in the trap of "learned helplessness."

    You start to say to yourself: "I'm not really very good in that area" or "I don't have natural talent or ability in that area."

    Every excuse or justification you make is one step backwards in pursuit of your goals. If you tend to make a lot of typos in your copy, hook up with another copywriter and make an agreement to check each other's work. If your copy still doesn't have a nice, easy, conversational tone to it, up the number of sales letters you read a day, write them out longhand, or reread AWAI's Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting.

  4. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly at first – It's not practice that makes perfect – it's imperfect practice that eventually makes perfect, according to Tracy.

    It's only natural when you start something new that you do it poorly at first. You may feel inadequate and inferior. Don't be embarrassed, though. There's always a price to be paid for success. The trick is to stick with it until you succeed.

    If writing good copy were easy, everyone would be doing it and the amount people willing to pay for your services would plummet. Remember, you're developing a skill that gives you the ability to provide for yourself and your family, no matter what the economy is doing, how old you are, or what you've done in the past.

  5. No job is always 100% enjoyable – There are not a lot of perfect jobs in this world. Most careers involve learning and developing skills that you may not always enjoy. For instance, you might love writing, but you don't like speaking on the phone with customers.

    But if you're going to excel as a freelance writer, knowing how to communicate with them verbally is a skill you must develop. Don't view it as a negative. View it as a small price you have to pay for success in your chosen field.

  6. Accept that it will take hard work – As Michael Jordan said, "Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work." Hard works opens the door to success, and with it comes the freedom to do what you want when you want.

  7. Keep in mind that no one is better or smarter than you – There are people who are better than you at certain things, but we all have that area in which we excel.

    All skills are learnable. You may not be the best, but you can improve. If you want something bad enough and are prepared to work for it, you can make it happen.

  8. Turn mistakes into opportunities – If you make a mistake, the first thing you should do is take ownership. Next, look for the golden opportunity, sometimes hidden, that comes with every mistake.

    For example, let's say you're working on an email promotion with a client. The offer includes a 25% discount until a certain date. But after you start the campaign, you discover that the day the discount ends is actually a Sunday. Not good. It's bound to hinder sales because less people are at their computers on weekends.

    So you send the subscribers another email on Monday explaining your mistake. You tell them you want to make sure readers have every opportunity to take advantage of the discount, so you're extending the offer another two days. You've turned a potential disastrous mistake into a sales opportunity.

  9. Don't compare yourself to others who are doing better than you – No matter how successful you become, there will be others "above" you. Don't waste your time and effort focusing on this sort of thing. It creates jealousy and feelings of inadequacy within you. Focus on yourself.

    If you read or hear about the success one of your fellow copywriters is having (who started about the same time you did), don't view it as you falling behind. Use it as inspiration that you too can succeed.

  10. You can’t give away what you don’t have – In life, it's important you take care of yourself first. Do this before you offer your time or effort to others. You're not being selfish – you're being practical. The happier you are and the more peace of mind you have, the better equipped you are to help others. So don't ignore the most important person in your life.

  11. Use your "enemy" as motivation – Now, this might seem a little negative, but it sure worked for me.

    Recently, I had to give a little speech in front of a crowd of about 140 people. I usually try to get out of anything that resembles public speaking, but this was a family event and it was very important to me, so it was unavoidable.

    I didn't want to come off as nervous or awkward in my delivery. So I thought about a particular politician whom I have almost no respect for. A relative lightweight intellectually, this politician (like most) is totally comfortable talking in front of a crowd. I thought to myself, "If this guy can speak in front of a large group of people without being nervous, so can I."

    I also made sure I had my material down pat so I didn't have to refer to notes.

    I received lots of compliments afterwards. Not once did I hear the dreaded words, "You seemed a bit nervous up there," because … I wasn't.

    You can also use someone you're not fond of to motivate you to greater heights. For instance, if you have an ex-boss who never believed in you, think of how good you'll feel when they find out how successful you've become.

  12. Focus on what you can change, and don't worry about the rest – Wasting time worrying yourself silly over the state of the world or political issues only frustrates and hinders your progress. I'm not saying those issues aren't important, but focus on your own success first.

    This serenity prayer can help: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  13. Save time by recognizing there are some minds that are unchangeable – In his song "To Beat The Devil," Kris Kristofferson sings:

    "If you waste your time a-talking to the people who don't listen to the things that you are saying, who do you think's going to hear? And if you should die explaining how the things that they complain about are things they could be changing, who do you think's going to care?"

    Don't waste your time and effort trying to open up a closed mind. Some minds are locked shut. It's just the way it is.

  14. Adopt Scarlett O'Hara's attitude – In the climactic final scene of Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara reacts to Rhett Butler's departure by collapsing on the plush red stairs. But then she says, "Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all … tomorrow is another day."

    It's a great lesson. Whether you're a freelance writer or king of the world, you're bound to have a bad day now and then. So when your turn comes, remember, it's not the end of the world. Take a breather, wipe the slate clean, and put your best efforts into tomorrow.

  15. Evaluate your performance – At the end of each week, ask yourself the following questions: What did you learn this week? What could you have done better? What did you do that brought you closer to your short-term and long-term goals? How could you have increased your productivity?

  16. Have patience – Don't be discouraged if you're not currently where you want to be in your career. Focus on taking one step, learning one skill, and making one small improvement at a time.

Keep these 16 tips in mind and you can't help but be more productive every day and have a better attitude about your career and life in general.

Make a lifelong commitment to personal excellence.

You'll make more money and experience less stress and worry along your journey. And you'll find you have more peace of mind at the end of each and every day.

The AWAI Method™

The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter

The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »

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Published: April 2, 2012

3 Responses to “16 Tips for Establishing the Right Mindset for Living a Life of Personal Excellence”

  1. Great article. Very Inspirational. Perfect timing.

    Thank you.

    Guest (Allan)

  2. Oh, I just really needed to read this one tonight. I was stuck on a sales letter, but this helps, just to go back to the basics, why I started copywriting in the first place.
    Thank you very much!

    Barbara Carson

  3. I am just starting this maze of information. I couldn't be more excited about learning it all and getting my feet wet. This is my chance to do what I love and never look back. Thank you for the tips. It is stuff we should know but forget.


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