We live in an age of constant comparison, assailed by a ceaseless bombardment of digital and real world noise that tells us how we should think, act, dress and feel.

An age where who and what we are never seems enough.

Where the answer to all of our problems is somewhere out there, tantalisingly out of our grasp; and if we do happen to find it, the bar against which we are measured moves, and we fall short again.

F*** that.

There’s a better way. YOU set the standard. You define your own ‘good enough’. You do YOU.

100%, uniquely, you.

F*** comparison. Be your best badass self.

Here’s how.

1. Grow through what you go through

At any given time, most of us are going through some kind of shit in our lives. And if you’re lucky enough not to be, then enjoy it while it lasts sunshine because you will be soon. Now this may seem distinctly ‘de-motivational’. Perhaps, but it happens to be true. And there is badass power in recognising this, because the shit in our lives is like fertiliser – it helps us to grow. All we need is the mindset to recognise it as such, out of which emerges the vision to see what life is giving us the opportunity to learn. Whatever happens, you can choose to grow through what you go through.

2. Be 10% better

Did the laws of mathematics change without anybody bothering to tell me? Every time I turn on my television somebody is giving it 150% to be 200% better. Bollocks. Be 10% better. Make the small changes that will make a big difference. And then be 10% better again. Growth and development is about what we do consistently, and improvements are most often measured in increments rather than quantum leaps. Be your best badass self, 10% at a time.

3. Take the next step

Do you know what you need to do to be your best badass self? Something. You need to do something. It’s not the most specific advice ever given, but it needs saying, because all too often we fail to reach our full badass potential because we don’t even take the first step. We plan. We strategize. We talk about what we will do tomorrow. But we don’t act.

Following the decision to act, the most important thing we can do is take the next step. And then the next. And then the next. We don’t need to know all of the steps. We don’t need to know the final destination. We just need a sense of where we are heading, and take the next step in that direction.

4. F*** fear

Why do so many people not take that next step? Even when they hate what they do, even when they know the type of badass life that they’d love, they stick with what they know. Why?

Because we know what to expect from the familiarity of our comfort zones. We don’t need to throw open the doors to uncertainty. We don’t have to confront the big, scary ‘what ifs’.

What if I fail? What if I’m not good enough? What if I regret it? What if other people judge me or laugh at me?

How many dreams have been snuffed out by fear before our heads are even lifted from the pillow? F*** fear.

5. Listen to your gut

Animals live on their instincts, but so many of us drown out the voice of our gut with the language of logic, reason and practicality. We strangle our inner knowing and allow it to be silenced by the safe option. Our fear disguised as practicality, we convince ourselves of all the reasons why ignoring our instincts is the sensible, pragmatic choice

But every now and again our guts will rumble once more, reminding us that life intends more for us, if only we answer the call. We don’t have to be reckless to be bold, but we do have to be bold to be our best, badass selves.

6. Trust that the dots will connect

In a famous speech given by Steve Jobs at Stanford University (36 million views on YouTube at time of writing), the Apple founder discusses the antidote to fear – faith.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

The older I get and the more dots I collect, the greater the truth of this quote shines for me. Trust that the dots will connect. Your best badass future self will thank you for it.

7. Find your why

Brothers and sisters, being your best badass self ain’t easy. You know that though, right? So how do we keep on going? How do we keep taking that next step, facing down our fears, and pushing ourselves when life just doesn’t seem to be playing ball?

We connect to our why. Our purpose.

Whether it be to set the best example for your kids, to secure your financial future, or to work wherever, whenever and however you like, it is your why that will keep you picking yourself up off the floor from life’s knockdowns. It drives you to make the necessary adjustments, bite down on your gumshield, and fight back hard. That’s how badasses do.

8. F*** ‘should’

How many times have you been really p*ssed by things not being how they ‘should’ be? He should have said this, she shouldn’t have said that; I should have been given that job, you should have read ‘F*** Comparison…’ You get the picture.

So much energy is wasted resisting how things are because we think things ‘should’ be different. But they’re not. We have to deal with the world how it is, on its terms.

If you don’t like how things are, change them. If you can’t change them, learn to accept them.

Direct your badass energy where it matters: to creating what could be.

9. Take responsibility

The world doesn’t owe you a damned thing, and life isn’t fair.

The biggest influence on the quality of your life, is you. Your power lies in your choices, your decisions, your actions.

In the story of your life, only one person is guaranteed to be on the final page – you. So take responsibility for what happens in your life. Even when people and events conspire against you – as they will – take responsibility for what you can do to turn things around.

It can be scary to realise that it’s up to you. That nobody else can be relied upon to save you, to help you achieve your goals, or to pick you up when you fall. But in accepting this we can unleash our full badass potential, taking life by the horns and making things happen, instead of letting them happen.

10, F*** comparison

What is your best badass self? It’s whatever you decide it is.

It could be loud and brash, it could be fiercely intelligent. You could be an intellectual badass, you could be a spiritual badass. You could be a career badass, you could be a family badass.

Your best badass self is whatever you want it to be.

Your value, your worth, your purpose – it’s defined by you, nobody else.

Of course, others will have their own opinions and judgements, their own set of standards. That’s their business. You can learn from others, be motivated by seeing them achieve, aspire to the values that they live by. But you never have to accept their model for how to live your life, nor their prescription for what’s good for you.

Your life belongs to you, and you owe it to yourself to be your best badass self.

Matthew Williams is an author, speaker and coach. He lives in the North East of England with his two young children. After overcoming a series of life-changing plot twists he is passionate about positive change, and turning life’s challenges into lessons for creating a better future. His book, Something Changed: Stumbling Through Divorce, Dating and Depression, is available now in eBook and paperback versions, from Amazon. He has also developed the unique online personal development programme, Change, which uses the power of your personal story to help you to create the life you love. For more information please visit change.afamiliarstranger.co.uk

Image courtesy of Vlada Karpovich.