It boils down to family, friends, fun, purposeful work and money — in that order.
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By nearly any measure, Richard Branson is at the top of the success-o-meter of life. The multibillionaire launched his first business as a teenager. By 20, he had started a mail-order record business and by 22 he was running a chain of record stores. He has since founded a slew of companies and conglomerates, including Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Express, Virgin Mobile, Virgil Hotels, Virgin Cruises and Virgin Galactic.
But it’s not just his ability to create entrepreneurial success that sets him apart. Branson seems perpetually set to “happy” mode. When he’s not engaging in some outdoor sport or extreme hobby, he’s spending time with family and friends he truly seems to adore.
According to Branson, creating such a life is pretty simple: love others, be grateful for all you have, be kind and be mindful. Oh, and “Never say no, just keep going until you succeed.”
So take some tips from the master of success and happiness. Use these eight keys and build your own amazing life.
1. Don’t measure your success by the amount of money you make.
Too often, people measure their success by how much money they make, but Branson assures us that if we’re having fun and focusing on making the world a better place, the money will come.
In an article posted on his LinkedIn page, Branson wrote: “It’s a common misconception that money is every entrepreneur’s metric for success. It’s not, and nor should it be. I’ve never gone into business to make money.”
No matter what you have achieved in life, you should always feel there is more to be done. Success is a moving target — it’s about striving to continue growing, but also appreciating what you have in the moment.
Related: How to Find Your Purpose in Life
2. Unplug and focus on face-to-face conversation.
Like most of us, Branson loves technology, but he also sees its limits, especially when it comes between him and those he cares for. Nothing can replace a face-to-face conversation or being in the moment — and for that you have to be willing to put your devices aside, he says.
Branson tries hard to focus his attention on whoever he is with. He works at actively listening and taking notes during meetings, and he makes it a point to put aside his cell phone and keep his attention centered on family during dinner. He also encourages others to put their technology down when they’re in a social setting… at least for a little while.
“We can all be more present in our own lives. I really believe that being in the moment is the key to happiness and success — and being constantly glued to your phone can have a big impact on your relationships,” Branson writes.
3. Have fun in everything you do.
If you aren’t having fun, you’re doing it wrong. In everything you do, you should find ways to enjoy and appreciate your life, says Branson. In other words, instead of working to live, you should live to work — because work is fun and enjoyable.
“Fun is one of the most important — and underrated — ingredients in any successful venture,” Branson writes in The Virgin Way: Everything I Know About Leadership.
Branson has said that when he no longer enjoys a project, it’s time to move on. “If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else,” he says. So stop wasting time doing things you hate or dread, as that will only suck the joy and happiness out of your life.
4. Find a hobby that gets you outside.
A major key to happiness, Branson says, is finding hobbies that encourage you to spend more time outdoors. Being outside can help you deal with stress and anxiety, and has a way of recharging your batteries, he says, noting: “It’s a great way to boost your mood and feel more in control.”
Hiking, biking and windsurfing are some of the ways Branson reenergizes by connecting to nature, but you can also do something as simple as taking your dog for a walk, or even spending time gazing into the night sky.
As Branson recently wrote on his Facebook page: “Get outside and look up. You never know what the stars could inspire next.”
5. Dream big.
Branson once tweeted: “Dream big & you will be presented with the opportunity to lead the world on an incredible adventure.” Branson’s success started with an audacious dream that seemed out of his league. He was in his early 20s when he launched Virgin Records and took on the music industry.
Everyone told him it wouldn’t work, but he didn’t listen. There was no guarantee he would be successful, but his belief in his dream fueled his motivation to keep pushing through.
Our dreams are what make us who we are. If you never have the courage to see them through, you’ll never know what you’re capable of.
6. Learn as you go.
Life should be one big learning experience. We should always seek to broaden our minds and increase our wisdom and knowledge. Branson never went to university — in fact, he left high school early — but he never stopped learning. He looks at life as one long university course, and seeks to learn at least one new thing every day.
Branson has launched a wide variety of ventures over the decades, often in areas he’s unfamiliar with. The key is, when you dive into a new area, you need to learn quickly, but you also should be motivated to do so, he says.
According to Branson, if you see a great opportunity, go for it, even if it’s not in an area you are familiar with or specialize in. Focus on learning as you go and embrace the chance to make new connections. Push yourself to make the most of opportunities when they present themselves.
“It’s really important to realize that it doesn’t matter if you don’t know — because you can always find out. Seize opportunities and don’t give in to self-doubt,” Branson writes on his blog.
7. Be fearless in trying new things.
Branson has never been afraid to say yes to new concepts, ideas and pursuits. This is a big reason why the Virgin Group is now an empire of over 200 diverse companies. Branson hasn’t limited himself to one area; he’s branched out and is open to trying new things.
He encourages everyone to push themselves outside of their comfort zone. It’s the only way you’ll truly see how far you can go.
“I can honestly say that nothing good in my life has ever happened from the safety of my comfort zone. It’s all those moments where you feel challenged, where you think ‘Oh crap, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea’ and then ponder giving up — if you can get through this stage of doubt and make it out the other side — I promise you, this is where the good stuff happens,” Branson writes.
8. Make happiness a habit.
Take time to find a bit of happiness in each day, in each moment if you can. Happiness isn’t the result of success, but happiness from within can support you in becoming successful, according to Branson.
“I know I’m fortunate to live an extraordinary life, and that most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But they haven’t; in fact, it’s the reverse. I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy,” Branson writes on his blog.
Branson encourages us to stop chasing after happiness as if it’s a far-off and hard-to-obtain goal. Happiness is right in front of you; you just need to recognize it and seize it.
“Stop and breathe. Be healthy. Be around your friends and family. Be there for someone, and let someone be there for you. Be bold. Just be for a minute,” he says.