Exam time is over, and families are now preparing to take leave and go on holiday. The recent craze of cramming in as much knowledge as possible is a distant memory but even so, this 12-year cycle continuously repeats itself.

Beyond school formulas and routine, Lisa Illingworth, CEO of FutureProofSA, delivers her 10 tips on “How to do life”.

Tip 1: Chase two rabbits and catch none

School is a time for trying out things at very low risk. You are given many options of sports, subjects and even types of social settings, but once you find the things that stick, focus your time, energy and efforts solely on those things.

Malcolm Gladwell is renowned for the principle of 10 000 hours that need to be applied to anything to become an expert but the concept has been diluted. In fact, the book speaks of 10 000 hours of deliberate practice in honing a craft. The value of focus will enable you to unlock success in a few areas whilst others are merely dabbling.

Tip 2: Passion is great, habits are better

Passion is a feeling and needed to initiate any large task, but to complete a task requires habits.

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Passion is inconsistent and will fuel you in sporadic bursts but, to sustain performance, wrap those passions in habits and the results and efforts will be long lasting.

This is similar to an individual starting a new diet or exercise routine. They are very enthusiastic at the start, but soon the passion fades and, unless they have developed habits, the efforts will wane.

Tip 3: Be interested, not interesting

Taken from Brendon Buchard’s book on High Performance Habits, this speaks to contravening what the world of social media breeds, which is an obsession with self and the ego.

Instagram likes and comments on Snapchat will lead you to believe that the world is interested in you. The hard truth is that it isn’t.

So learn to be interested in others. Understand the human condition. Find ways of establishing real human connections and become a master at developing relationships. You do this by being interested in others.

Instagram likes and comments on Snapchat will lead you to believe that the world is interested in you. The hard truth is that it isn’t

Tip 4: Make your value higher than your drama

Value adds to relationship bank accounts, it feeds into others and into organisations but when it comes with a high amount of drama, it eats into the same bank account.

Setting and meeting both personal and professional expectations, being able to support others in a team, managing your own emotions – whether it be in success or failure – creates value to others: drama does the opposite.

Tip 5: Practise balance over performance at all costs

The increasing and startling amount of mental health issues that children and teenagers are suffering from is frightening. Anxiety is stifling creativity and the number of children and teens on medication is increasing exponentially.

As parents, rewarding and prioritising academic performance only adds to this pressure. Pressure that results in a multitude of early-onset stress-related conditions and depression.

Instead of rewarding performance, reward balance. Reward time and energy management. Reward self-awareness and self-management. These lead to healthy living habits and not self-destruction at the hand of chasing performance.

Tip 6: Own your mistakes

Taking accountability seems to be a rare skill in our society. Everyone looks to others to place blame instead of taking accountability for what is squarely their responsibility.

In life, the ability to own the actions you took – and the consequences thereof – will allow others to trust you, even when you make mistakes and are fallible.

Tip 7: Be thankful

The brain is wired to adopt negative perspectives quicker than positive ones, as fear is the built-in, frontline mechanism for protection for the body.

Thus, it is easier to be negative than to be positive. The brain has to be retrained and coded to look at the world as a set of opportunities and not problems, and one of the most effective ways is using the channel of thankfulness and gratitude.

Being grateful for failures as lessons, and mistakes as opportunities to learn, reframes your perspective on your world and yourself. Make this a daily habit and it will transform your relationship with yourself and those around you.

Tip 8: Find the intersection of passion, purpose, talent, people and income

The Japanese have a philosophy that they practise called Ikigai, and directly translated means “A Reason for Being”.

This is the intersection of passion (which is about you), purpose (which is about others), talent (what you are gifted at doing), people (the strong relationships you have) and income (where you can generate financial stability).

If you can find that sweet spot, the Japanese believe is the key to unlocking happiness and you will find yourself tapping into discretionary effort to do what you love and it won’t feel like work.

Tip 9: “If it’s not a good match, knock them out in the first round”

The above quote is taken from the movie Million Dollar Baby featuring Hillary Swank as an amateur boxer turned professional under the coaching of Clint Eastwood.

In one scene, Eastwood is lecturing Swank about her habit of knocking her opponents out too quickly and not giving the crowd a good fight. And her response is this “if it is not a good match, rather knock them out in the first round”.

This is a wonderfully sound principle to apply to all manner of pairings, be it in personal relationships, business deals and even in romantic engagements. If it isn’t going to work from the outset, rather end it.

The simplest form of being able to create a place in the world is to find a problem and solve it

Tip 10: Don’t try and find your place in the world, create one

The world of our parents faded years ago where young adults went to university, got a job and stayed in that profession for the majority of their lives until they had accrued enough wealth to retire.

With the average professional position lasting two years and less, it is necessary for those entering the world of work to be able to take control of how their income is generated and what they do to generate this income.

The simplest form of being able to create a place in the world is to find a problem and solve it. The more significant the problem, the greater the opportunity – which in turn means that the place you have created will last longer. This is how entrepreneurs establish themselves and create sustainable means of generating financial security and job creation around the world.

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