Your life is not only a lifelong project—it’s a lifelong learning project. Approach it that way and you’ll always be developing better, smarter habits. The problem is most people work harder o their jobs than they do on themselves. What do I mean by that?

My junior year of college I quit the University of Southern Mississippi to move to Dallas and start my career. After a year or so, I was on my way to making a good income. I was doing well for a college dropout! Yet, I was confused about my future. I knew I wanted to go back to college and finish, but wasn’t quite sure when or how I should. I was told by my manager that I would never move up in the company without a degree.

Soon after that, I was talking to a close friend who said, “Ryan, you need to go back and finish your degree.” This was coming from a guy who was very successful, had a degree, and was well-respected in his field. It was a hard decision for me to make. In the end, I realized it was the best thing to do and took his advice. I moved to Baton Rouge. It wasn’t easy to go from a guaranteed base salary plus commission to waiting tables. However, I knew finishing my education was what I needed to do. And, that’s what I did. I earned my bachelor’s degree in marketing at Southeastern Louisiana University.

I thought my education was over the day I graduated. I discovered I was dead wrong. That was the day it began.

‘Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.’ —Jim Rohn

Although I returned to Dallas after graduation, I didn’t truly enjoy my career until I began to invest in my self-education. That is when I learned you don’t chase money—you attract it by becoming better in your personal and professional life. I attended seminars, listened to CDs, and read business and self development books. I was doing it so I could be better in my career; so I could be better in life, and become a better person overall.

Maybe you’re like I was—totally unfamiliar with self-development. I didn’t realize there was that much great information out there to help you improve yourself.

If you don’t like reading books, I can empathize. When I got out of college, I was so sick of reading that I never wanted to see another book. I told one of my mentors about my negative attitude toward reading and he immediately asked me, “Do you know how to eat an elephant?” I had no idea what he meant. He then told me “One bite at a time.” Then he explained that’s the same way you read a book…just a chapter a day.

Books are one way to go, but you can invest in yourself in a lot of other ways. I enjoy watching shows such as, Biography, VH1’s Behind the Music, and ESPN’s Beyond the Glory. These series take you behind the scenes to show you the hardships that celebrities, entrepreneurs, athletes and other professionals had to face in pursuing their dreams. I’m energized at the end of each episode—feeling that I could take on anything, and thinking, if they can do it, so can I!

Other great resources I love are CD sets, audio books, and podcasts. You can listen to these while you drive, exercise, or during many other activities. Attending seminars are another incredible way to pick up new ideas. You can find many excellent seminars through an internet search or by calling a professional organization.

You have the same opportunities. If you have basic internet access, you can read, watch, or listen to inspiring stories and find personal development resources. The number one excuse I hear is, “I don’t have the time.” If you listen to the radio, you can listen to a CD. If you read a forwarded chain email, you can read an uplifting story. If you’re watching television, watch something positive, such as Biography.

You have the time and opportunity. What it takes is committing to making yourself better. Stay away from all the negativity, because it will creep into your subconscious and become part of your everyday life! Remember—positive in, positive out.

That’s what it means to work on your self. You have to be constantly investing in your own development and exposing yourself to new ideas and experiences. You need to be inspired by other people and stories. Learning, reading, and growing are part of your positive attitude strategy.

Some say knowledge is power, but I believe applied knowledge is power. There’s no advantage in knowing something and never using it. Go learn it— then go do it!

“Remember that it is up to you to choose everyday to Get off Your Attitude and to create a positive lifestyle for yourself and others.” Ryan C. Lowe

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