Often, the setbacks that stop us or slow us down in life can actually help us to ultimately succeed. I recently interviewed Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey about his memoir. “Greenlights.” Matthew explained how, through all of the successes, failures, joys and sorrows he has experienced, he has found happiness and meaning in his life. He also described how, by learning to effectively deal with life’s challenges, you can always keep moving forward and enjoy a state of success he calls “catching greenlights.” Here are some of the top takeaways:

We Need Yellow and Red Lights

Yellow and red lights are the things that slow us down and get in our way. Whether it’s a tragedy, a crisis, a hardship or even a death, no-one wants to encounter these setbacks. The truth is, however, that when we look back, we can often see that we actually needed these challenges for some reason, or that they contained a greenlight lesson. Somewhere down the line in life, as we look in the rearview mirror, all yellows and reds eventually turn green, or at least reveal a greenlight asset.

More Is Not Necessarily Better

It’s ingrained in our culture that more is better, which is why so many of us pile our plates sky-high with commitments. This is exactly why people find themselves in a place where they’re spread too thin, they’re over-leveraged and they’re at risk of getting overwhelmed. To succeed in life, it’s true that we need to do good, hard work. However, we also have to question whether we’re doing the right kind of work. Sometimes, reducing your commitments so you can apply laser focus to your foundational priorities is best.

The Story Must Evolve

The way to find the greenlights in life is by persisting, by pivoting or sometimes by knowing when to wave the white flag. Of course, you shouldn’t give up or give in too early – you must have persistence and endurance. However, you also have to remember that we are each the author of our own book and our story must evolve. If you keep encountering the same problems, if the decisions you’re making are not giving you residuals or if you repeat the same choices hoping for a different outcome, you need to back up and tackle things in a different way – or even change things completely. The thought of moving on can be scary. No-one knows what’s going to happen next in life, but we have to summon the courage to turn the page and continue writing the story.

To learn more, listen to the latest episode of “The Brian Buffini Show.”

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