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25 Business and Life Lessons I've Learned Since My Mother's Death Achieve a breakthrough after enduring a personal loss.

By Meiko Patton Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

One of the most trying times of my life happened six years ago when my mother lost her courageous battle with Stage IV colon and liver cancer six years ago in November.

I've had a lot of time since then to grieve and reflect on the beauty as well as the fragility of life. I believe people have the best breakthroughs in life when they are forced to break down, at least that's what happened to me. Below is a list of things that I've learned since her death and I hope it can help you, too.

Related: Running a Business While Dealing With a Personal Loss

1. Listen to mentors of the past.

Make it practice every day to use your commute time as learning time. When I moved to San Diego six years ago, I started doing this and my life drastically improved. Every day I listen to recordings of motivational speakers such as Zig Ziglar, Jim Rohn and others on my commute to work.

2. Stretch yourself.

Don't set goals just for the sake of having them. Set goals that will stretch who you are as a person. Consider the question "What type of person must I become to achieve all that I want?" Stretch goals are essential because what you become in life helps you achieve further.

When you work 10 times harder on yourself, you'll see phenomenal growth in your life. By taking the time to work on yourself now, you will reap benefits later. If you do what other people aren't willing to do now, you will enjoy what people cannot even fathom later.

Decide the future you want. Whatever it is that you want, see yourself already in possession of it. Humans are the only life form that can change the course of their life in an instant. If you want success, you can obtain it. You have to believe that what you want is possible for you and that it's already yours.

3. Be grateful.

Live a life full of gratitude. Every day I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with my mother. I am also grateful for the pain that followed her death because it taught me a lot about my resiliency and compassion. Be grateful not just for the good stuff but learn to grow from the lessons arising from the bad things that happen.

4. Value experience.

Treat experience like a rare jewel of exquisite value. Use what you learned in the past and invest it for your future. Experience, like money, can be very beneficial if you do not squander it but rather put it to good use. Let it serve you. Don't be a servant to it.

5. Invest in personal development.

Never begrudge the money you spend on yourself for self-development. Don't miss out on the class, the conference or the seminar. What price can be put on your personal growth? None. It's priceless.

When I moved to San Diego, I began learning Portuguese. I'm still not as fluent as I want to be, but paying for lessons and learning this new skill really helped my mindset. When you move out of your comfort zone, new avenues of opportunity start opening up for you.

6. Be a problem solver.

When you invest in life by helping another person, your problems seem to disappear. I learned that while I was in deep pain after my mom's death. It was through helping other people that I could get my mind off my grief and this slowly helped me heal. What problem can you solve for someone else that may inadvertently help you?

7. Become attractive.

To attain all that you want in life, you must become attractive. I'm not talking about physical beauty but about the beauty that you possess inside. For things to change in your life, you have to change. Success is something you attract by becoming an attractive person. It's not something that you pursue because what you pursue always eludes you like a butterfly.

8. Show kindness to others.

Be polite to everyone you meet. Just make up your mind to be kind even to strangers. When you walk out a door, hold it open for the person behind you. Display good manners. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

9. Be a friend.

The greatest wealth of all time is friends. They know all about you and still like you. Joys are doubled and sorrows cut in half when you share them with a friend.

Be the kind of friend you want. Spend time with your friends. Value them. Treasure them. Make time for them. Widen out your circle of friendships. I have great friends who are younger than me, my age and older than me. Don't go looking for a friend. Be one.

10. Stay in touch.

Sometimes months or even years may go by without your realizing that you haven't kept up with close friends and family. When you lose a loved one, you begin to know all too well the importance of relationships. Make a list of 10 people you haven't spoken to in a while. Call or write them. It really does make a difference.

11. Embrace the cycle of life.

After spring comes summer and after summer comes fall. It's been that way since the beginning of time. You can also use the seasons as metaphors for life.

After good times, there will be bad times, but then good times will come again and so forth. When someone dies, a new life will be born. Life will always be a mixture of opportunity and difficulty. Since you can't change this, you must learn to embrace it.

Related: The Benefits of Practicing Vulnerability in the Office

12. Be vulnerable.

Most people spend their entire lives hiding who they really are from others. The only way to really live authentically is to connect with others. Be open, honest and vulnerable. When you share your struggles, you give permission to others to do the same.

13. Embrace hardship.

Happiness or joy does not come from the things you possess. It comes from the substance of who you are. That substance is made up of your experiences in life. A pearl is created by the irritation of a grain of sand. When you experience conflict, adversity or irritations, they often create hidden pearls.

14. Forgive someone.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing because you release the hurt and pain that you carry within you. It's like a huge weight that's lifted from your life. Don't live your life in the past. Rather use it as a catalyst to make your life better. To truly forgive someone, you must release the person from his or her responsibility for the hurt caused you. Forgiveness is a choice.

15. Start a podcast.

The best way to move of your comfort zone is by trying something new. Starting a podcast was very scary for me; that's why I knew I had to do it. When you stretch yourself, you become a new person with new skills. Those new skills can only help you later in life.

16. Take action.

Too many people wait until everything is just right before venturing out. Stop waiting. Take action now. Send out what you have into the world and then constantly improve upon it. Everything you do is a work in progress. So don't procrastinate. Get started.

17. Start a 21-day challenge.

Experts say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. So make a list of some of the things you want to start implementing in life. Narrow it down and challenge yourself to stick with it for 21 days. You'll be amazed by how awesome you'll feel after you accomplish it.

Related: Even Warren Buffett Relied on a Mentor

18. Take to lunch people you admire.

A great way to acquire a mentor is to invite someone to have lunch -- on you. Make a list of 10 people you want to get to know better. Each time you'll be amazed at how much the other person will enjoy this. People love to talk about themselves and their accomplishments. This is a great way to get them to do it.

19. Banish toxicity.

When I stopped spending time with toxic people, my life improved beyond measure. Toxic people bring you down and you can't flourish with them in your life. Make a list of these people. Stop associating with them or at least limit the time spent with them if the former isn't possible.

20. Say I love you every day.

The word love is used for so many different things. People love their cars, homes, cities and even their clothes. But the kind of love I'm referring to is the unconditional love for your family and dear friends. Rarely do people say I love you every day to those they love. I learned that this is essential to say every day because you never know what tomorrow will hold.

21. Don't be in such a hurry.

Don't spend your life chasing after something. Slow down. Cherish what you have. Savor the goodness of life. Wherever you are, be there, fully.

22. Write it down.

Keep a list of your accomplishments. I like to keep things in a journal and I look at it whenever I need a pick-me-up. Writing can be therapeutic and when you review the major milestones you've reached, you'll know that if you did those things, you can do so much more.

23. Recover quickly.

Losing a loved one is devastating and each person grieves differently. There is no timetable for this pain. What I've learned is that with all adversity, it's best to recover as quickly as possible. Don't stay in a saddened state one minute longer than you have to. Don't let things affect you so long that you're not able to recover.

24. Take care of yourself.

When you go on an airplane, the flight attendant says to first secure your own mask before you help others. You can't help others if you neglect yourself. Take care of you first so you will be able care for others.

25. Smile frequently. Dance often.

A smile is the only circle that can make things straight. Be cautious of your face when you interact with people. A smile is a simple gift that you can give to others. Be generous with it.

My mother loved to dance and that's why I love dancing. Thank you, Mom. I really miss you.

Related: 7 Traits Elite Entrepreneurs Display at Work and in Their Zest for Living

Meiko Patton

Amazon #1 Best-Selling Author

Sacramento-based Meiko S. Patton is a writer for the federal government and author of How a Postage Stamp Saved My Life.

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