Seven Principles for a Better Life by Alissa Finerman



"Seek progress rather than perfection.” ~ Alissa Finerman

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alissa Finerman. Alissa is the author of Living in Your Top 1%: Nine Essential Rituals to Achieve Your Ultimate Life Goals.

It’s essentially a guide to help you find your inner drive, get clarity on what you want, and make your dreams happen through compelling goals, and inspired action.

What I like about Alissa is her focus on helping people bring out their best and hit their high notes in life.

I also like her focus on excellence, getting results, and pushing the envelope of what’s possible. She’s got great energy and it’s contagious. 

A Passion for Inspiring People

Alissa also has a wealth of experience, including her Wall Street career days, which she traded up to focus on her passion for inspiring people to be their best, and lead their best lives.  Alissa is also well-educated, with an MBA from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

I also like the fact that Alissa is an athlete and she continues to challenge herself.  In fact, she completed a half Ironman Triathlon.  She also was ranked #1 in the USTA National Women’s 40 Doubles in 2008 and 2009. 

She leads by example and shows you can use your mind and body together to produce outstanding results in all areas of your life.

Without further ado, here’s Alissa with seven principles to help you lead a better life …

How To Lead a Better Life

As a general practice, I always focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the past or what could have been. I’m more of a “what if” and “why not” kind of person.

I like to push the accepted boundaries and encourage people to re-think what’s possible. In our quest to lead a better life, it’s important to continuously reflect and assess our actions to see what works and what we need to shift so we can improve.

I’ve shared seven principles to lead a better life that are helpful to implement at any stage in your life to enjoy greater fulfillment, happiness, and engagement.

These themes continue to come up with my clients which is how I selected these ideas although there are many more. The most important thing is that you consistently practice a set of rituals in your life.

It’s about quality rather than quantity. I hope you will share your comments as well so we can all learn on the path to sharing our best self.


    The earlier you can define what success means to you, the more fulfilled and happier you will be. I’ve always had goals but I truly redefined what success meant to me during my career on Wall Street.

    I was sitting on the Corporate Bond Sales Desk when I realized that I no longer equated success purely with money, status, and title. I wanted to be engaged and fulfilled by my work and feel that I was making a difference in the world.

    My words may mean different things to each reader, but the important part is that your goals are aligned with your vision of success. In my work as a life coach, I find that many clients either have outdated goals or outdated ideas of what success means.

    Just because you wanted to start your own business five years ago does not necessarily mean you want to be your own boss today.

    You have to decide if being an entrepreneur is still a path that resonates with you. It’s important to note that success is dynamic and will change at different stages in your life.

    What does success mean to you and are your goals aligned with your vision?


      I noticed when I became clear on my values, the principles that guide me on a daily basis such as respect, feeling connected, authenticity, honesty, flexibility, creativity, and learning, I began to gain clarity with leaps and bounds.

      It was much easier to make difficult decisions (ex: leaving Wall Street and becoming a business coach, leaving my family in NYC and moving to California, or taking on certain projects).

      This is a critical step because clarity helps you make decisions and move forward with greater ease in the face of challenges.
      What are your top five values that guide you on a daily basis?

        3. BE THE CEO OF YOU INC.

        One of the best ways to lead an empowered life on a daily basis is to start with your most important asset – you. YOU INC. represents all the different areas of your life including Career, Relationships, Finances, Healthy Living, Fun & Creativity and Personal Growth.

        You need to invest in and be mindful of each of these areas to present your best self on a daily basis. The key theme is that you are in the driver’s seat (not someone else).

        YOU INC. is the most important business you will run because it’s your life and you need to take an active role in all the decisions.

        This includes making yourself a priority whether it’s for five minutes or the whole weekend by saying gratitude, getting sleep, giving yourself time to re-fuel, reading, connecting with friends, or exercising.

        This means taking responsibility for your actions and not being afraid to say “NO” or “YES” in different situations. Before we can truly be a leader for others, we need to be a leader for our own life.

        What would the impact be if you made yourself a priority on a consistent basis?


          We all fall prey to living with a bunch of shoulds. It’s easy to fall into this habit and you are not alone. The sooner you can forego the shoulds and fill your schedule and day with the things that truly inspire and energize you the happier you will be.

          I realize that we all have commitments, but I also believe that people make choices which commitments get added to their schedule.

          I know this is a dicey subject so before you mention the mortgage, kids, and responsibilities you have, take a moment and think about why you are in a specific situation.

          If your priority was to start a family then it only makes sense that you have certain commitments for your children. Make no mistake, these are not obligations or “shoulds” but rather privileges. It’s a dangerous habit to get into living a life of shoulds because these are not the things that are genuinely exciting and provide the greatest pleasure.

          I encourage my clients to make a conscious effort and decision to remove the shoulds from their life as much as possible and to fill their day with at least one thing that helps them lead a better life.

          Where could you lose the “shoulds” in your life and spend more time and energy focusing on what you want?

            5. BE CONSISTENT

            Consistency is one of the most powerful concepts we can practice on a regular basis to make an immediate impact in our life.

            You probably fell down many times when you first learned to walk as a baby. If you had decided that walking was too hard an activity to learn, you’d be crawling for the rest of your life. Walking only became possible with practice.

            The idea of practice translates into results and is dependent on the words, thoughts, beliefs, choices, commitments, and actions we make on a consistent basis.

            The formula is simple — the challenge is putting it into practice.

            Consistency + Choice + Commitment = Your Results.
            Where can you practice consistency in your life to align your actions with the results you want?


              This is one of my favorite principles and one that really separates the top 1%ers from those that settle for the status quo. There are many people who complain about their job and how they want to start their own company but never do anything to change their situation.

              Then there are other people who have a great idea such as starting a non-profit organization, opening a surf shop, or doing their first triathlon and the next time you see them they have taken steps forward.

              You have to choose if you will sit on the sideline or participate in life. You can start turning your ideas into action by believing in yourself, spending time to set meaningful goals, being resilient when faced with a setback, and taking small steps forward.

              How would your life be different if you turned at least one idea into action?

                7. BUILD YOUR TOP 1% TEAM

                What do successful business owners, elite athletes, doctors, musicians, actors, and CEOs have in common? They have a team!

                While your team may not be as elaborate as that of a CEO of a large corporation or professional athlete, it’s interesting to learn from those who excel in their sport of choice.

                The common theme is they set themselves up to succeed.

                Take a moment and consider who are the people in your inner circle? Do they inspire you, challenge you to move outside your comfort zone, and expand your thinking? Are they passionate about their life and excited to start their day? Do they free you up to add the most value as the CEO of your business? Do they have a positive attitude that says, “I can.”

                These are the people you want on your team.

                What changes need to be made to your top 1% team to put yourself in a position to succeed?

                  TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE

                  Leading our best life is a process and involves continually assessing where you are and where you want to be. As our priorities and goals shift over time, they need to be updated to make sure your path still resonates. 

                  It is not a single journey from point A to B. Learn from those around you and decide who are the key players you want on your team to help you make progress each day.

                  The poet Mary Oliver asks, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Now is the time to answer this question.

                  Alissa is a Professional Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of “Living in Your Top 1%: Nine Essential Rituals to Achieve Your Ultimate Life Goals” available on She works with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results.  Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. To learn more and to take the Living in Your Top 1% quiz, please visit or


                  1. Thank you J.D and Alissa! I actually needed to hear most of this, especially filling my day with things that inspire and energize me…

                  2. I appreciated reading this post and learning of Alissa Finerman…

                    I was hoping that this post and coming to JD’s up zone would lift my spirits today…My lastest proposal/ project was refused, I have 3 wonderful friends who signed up for my new blog/ work and I tore the ligament in my heel at the wedding last Saturday – got a speeding ticket on the drive home, got a lecture for being a west side of the state liberal from the traffic cop, can not figure out how to pay for my puppy’s emergency surgery or even to go to the doctor for my foot…being an e-patient DIY healthcare is all I have….but the very worst part of being in my space right now…is after three years ( really a lifetime) of practicing health with my best vibrations and plans I still have 98 pounds to lose to achieve this…

                    I will have to come back to read this fine post, because I think I just need to fall into despair, discouragement, sadness, and dysfunction…What am I not doing correctly? I just do not feel like picking up the pieces and starting again…

                  3. Lot of true in this post J.D. and Alissa.You are right success can mean many different things and we all have to decide what it meant to us.

                    Let the past go is a must if you what to move forward. I never look at the should haves, just learn by them and let them go.

                    Sometimes in getting where we want to be it can seem like we are walking in mud and that is when we have to use more muscle to keep moving forward.

                    Isn’t life great when we know where we are going and can make the changes we need when the curves come along.
                    Thanks for the very informative post.
                    Bless to you both,

                  4. I like your Quote Alissa, In the beginning. In the beginning of my PD journey I thought the goal was perfection, now I see that improving through progress is much more realistic.

                    I noticed how the most successful people in business excel because they are always pushing the boundaries.

                    #’s 3 and 5 I have really been focusing on lately because I believe that they will give me the best long-term benefits.

                    Thanks JD and Alissa.

                  5. Hi all and thanks for reading the post and sharing your thoughts. I love all of these principles, #5 practicing consistency is one of my favorites. Everything starts with small steps and little wins along your journey. And thank you Justin for realizing that the game is about progress. So let’s all start wherever we are and move forward one step at a time!

                  6. Alissa,
                    I agree with your last statement quite heartily; it is when the healing takes so incredible long – years – that part of the healing must take on the discouraging and sad….I do not consider these events negative or positive – just part of the journey.

                    I have had cancer removed from my physical body 7 times.. and now my endocrine/lymphatic system is a mess – everyone tells me to just lose weight, that is the next step…I know I would look and feel better and so many symptoms would disappear (like my painful foot right now) I have to dig into the blockages of change in order to move forth…I attempt to be positive in my energy, but it is very difficult…and I think discouraging.

                    I think your list is better for folks who have gotten over a “hump” and are moving forward. I understand marketing, but I am just getting overwhelmed by all the ignored or minimized “painful” parts of change…that can truly reinforce self- doubt and discouragement. I think these parts are significant steps in individuals journeys and stories.
                    I certainly live by my values and persist and always have an action plan, and I think diving deep and knowing/understanding it all is life giving.

                  7. @patricia, thanks for being courageous and sharing your story. The amazing thing I’ve learned from working with clients is that everyone treats their obstacles differently so it’s not about the obstacles/challenges even though they are very real but about our mindset and how we choose to view them. Some people treat the weather like the hugest obstacle ever – it’s very interesting.

                    I wish you all the best on your journey and know that I believe in you! Also, if this list doesn’t work for you then feel free to put together your personal set of rituals that help you be your best.


                  8. Opportunity comes most often as dragons which we perceive as a need to conquer on our own to be whole. my words.

           Lisa’s Words

                    Marianne Williamson’s words:
                    ” Perhaps you feel cornered now, as though you’ve tried everything and all efforts are spent. having depended on your own strength to heal yourself, you have ended up smack-dab back in the center of the wound. You feel checkmated by yourself and beaten by your own ego.”

                    Alissa…it is a fine list and will attract lots of positive comments..I am just disappointed that none of the lists I keep reading digs in…
                    Yes we all, everyone of us, has our own path and journey…but the “hero journey” always has to overcome and understand.
                    Thank you for all your replies – I will not keep pestering you

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