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Associated Press
Three portraits of Albert Einstein taken in Princeton, USA, in March 1953. Einstein was born at Ulm, Germany on March 14, 1879. Encouraged by his father, who was an electrical engineer, Einstein studied at the Zurich Polytechnic Institute until the age of 21, shortly afterwards starting work at the Swiss Patent Office. Although famous for his papers on special and general relativity, he won the 1921 Nobel Prize for physics for his work on the photoelectric effect. Einstein died on April 18, 1955, without completing his Grand Unified Theory of the fundamental forces, still incomplete today.

Editor's note: A version of this article previously appeared on Medium.com.

SALT LAKE CITY — In 1900, Albert Einstein was a desperate job hunter.

It took Einstein nine years to become a professor despite his best efforts after college. He blamed his difficult situation on his physics professor Heinrich Weber who held a grudge against him and provided unfavorable references.

"I could have found a job long ago had it not been for Weber's underhandedness," Einstein said.

While Weber was an early fan of Einstein in college, he changed his mind because, according to his online biography, he believed Einstein "skived" his lectures.

"You are a clever boy, Einstein, a very clever boy indeed," Weber said. "But you have a great shortcoming: You don't listen to anyone!"

Associated Press
Dr. Albert Einstein writes out an equation for the density of the Milky Way on the blackboard at the Carnegie Institute, Mt. Wilson Observatory headquarters in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 14, 1931.

According to a 2017 Atlantic article, Einstein was a rebellious student who didn't respect traditional schooling and received bad grades (except in math and physics). Einstein, it seemed, was a nonconformist.

Unemployed and frustrated, Einstein gave up and decided to take a job he didn't want: clerk at the Swiss patent office.

Although Einstein was smart, his life to this point included a string of people in his path who didn't understand his genius. In fact, Einstein didn't speak until he was 4 and, according to Business Insider, the family maid nicknamed him “der Depperte” — the dopey one. The moniker seemed to follow him throughout his early career.

In between clerking at the patent office, pursuing his Ph.D. and supporting his family, Einstein began his work.

In 1905, Einstein wrote four history-changing papers in the "annus mirabilis," or wonderous year. The four now-famous articles published focused on 1) Brownian motion, 2) the photoelectric effect, 3) special relativity and 4) mass-energy equivalence. (The photoelectric effect won the Nobel Prize in 1921.) These papers put his name on the map and changed the way we understand the world — including E = mc².

In 1909, Einstein finally became an associate professor at the University of Zurich (and a full professor in Prague in 1911).

This brings us to the question:

How did an unknown nonconformist become so resolute?

This article shares 10 values Einstein espoused that can help you successfully meet your New Year's resolutions, despite shortcomings, failed mentors and haters.

1. Understanding > knowing.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”― Einstein

Often the difference between success and failure isn't knowing what, why or how to do something; it's understanding who to do it with and when.

2. Be satisfied with the present.

"A happy man is too satisfied with the present to dwell too much on the future." ― Einstein

You'll never get anywhere with your head in the clouds if you don't turn those dreams into present-day forward motion. Show gratitude for where you came from by not regretting what you could've and should've done today.

3. Think independently.

"Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth." ― Einstein

You're reaching for a goal you haven't met. Rethink how you might get there and if there are any untruths stopping you. You wouldn't be the first one to realize the authorities on the topic were wrong.

4. Learn how to learn.

"The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think." Einstein

The mind that is continuously learning is continuously earning.

5. Pursue creativity.

"Reading after a certain age diverts the mind too much from its creative pursuits. Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking, just as the man who spends too much time in the theater is tempted to be content with living vicariously instead of living his own life." ― Einstein

When it comes to achieving your goals, producing is more important than consuming.

6. Believe your intuitions.

"I believe in intuitions and inspirations. I sometimes feel that I am right. I do not know that I am." ― Einstein

Sometimes intuition is more than a hunch. Whether it's providence or a summation of your life experience, it's wise to trust yourself first.

7. Use your imagination more.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." ― Einstein

Nothing new or innovative is created without a stretch of the imagination. Reach your goals by reaching for the sky, and stretch your brain and imagination every day.

8. Keep moving.

"Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving." ― Einstein

Your body is about 60 percent water. Stagnant water brings disease and mosquitos. Keep moving even when it's hard. If you can't move your body, keep your mind fresh.

9. Make yourself a member of a conscious community.

"Although I am a typical loner in daily life, my consciousness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has preserved me from feeling isolated." ― Einstein

Despite advances in communications technology, many of us are lonely. It's like being lost in a crowd or alone in an apartment. If you're lonely, consider journaling. Write for a conscious community that understands you or you are trying to persuade. Imagine your life as a work or an art that can improve and inspire others — and it will.

10. Express your opinions and share your goals courageously and honestly.

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"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds. The mediocre mind is incapable of understanding the man who refuses to bow blindly to conventional prejudices and chooses instead to express his opinions courageously and honestly." ― Einstein

Take a stand. Stick a stake in the ground. Courageously and honestly be who you dream you will one day be. Do it now, before you're ready. Overpreparedness is the downfall of the well-intentioned. Watch the magic happen.


You may be out of a job, or have someone blocking or hating you. Keep moving forward anyway. Einstein would, but it doesn't take an Einstein to do it.