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SOC Professor Offers 7 Tips for a Successful Life

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Chris Palmer
Professor Chris Palmer

When Chris Palmer was in his 20s, he realized something was very wrong.

On the surface, he was living a great life. A member of the British Navy who also excelled in the classroom, Palmer was a picture of perfection. But underneath, something was missing.

"I was very restless," the School of Communication professor says. "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. My parents were encouraging me in one direction, but I wasn't comfortable with that. I wasn't a lot different from most young people today. I was frustrated, irritable and rancorous. The world was baffling."

Palmer began to reshape his life by writing out what became a personal mission statement. Forty years later, he' still writing and revising his goals, and he's bringing the lessons learned into the classroom.

On the evening of October 19, Palmer will begin the first of three "Design Your Life for Success" courses. The 90-minute weekly series, sponsored by the School of Professional and Extended Studies, will be held in MGC 203-205. Registration is free.

For those unable to make the class, Palmer offered up seven tips for designing a successful life:

  1. Choose to accept your mission. Create your own "personal mission statement." Your personal mission statement helps you decide at what to do with your time and energy. In creating it, you are beginning to write the story of your life. What gives your life meaning? Who do you want to become? What matters deeply to you?
  2. Spend your time wisely. You want congruence between how you spend your day and what matters most to you. Are you spending time on projects and relationships that won't matter to you in the long run?
  3. Be fearless and free. What can you imagine doing if time, money, and fear were not obstacles? What would you do if you knew you could not fail? If you had all the money in the world, what would you do for free?
  4. Take care of home. Keep your life in balance. Be aware of all your important roles and responsibilities in life, not just at work. Having a happy home life should be among your highest goals.
  5. If you can see it, you can achieve it. Set goals. Put them in writing. This is a powerful process. Without goals, our lives are essentially drifting without focus. Putting your plans on paper makes goals more concrete, meaningful, and real.
  6. Know when to walk away. Improving your success involves more than ridding your life of time-wasters like poorly run meetings, interruptions, and gossip. Major gains in success and productivity come from ceasing to pursue a course of action-a job, a contract, a career, or a relationship-that is wrong for you.
  7. The power of "no." Sometimes the best time-saver of all is the word "no." Declining a request from another person without causing ill-will is a learnable skill. Identifying activities in your life that are not important to you is key to improving your productivity and happiness. What can you stop doing to free up time for the things that are important to you?