Getting the life, you want!
How does our mindset about our life impact the paths we take and the effort we put into it?
In the early ’90s, I was in my 20’s, a bodybuilder, nightclub bouncer and high school grad with an impressive GPA of a ‘C’…oh ya, and I was living on the streets.
I don’t begin this story with such drama because I’m looking for some level of empathy or sympathy, I start it this way so you can understand the message and guidance here comes from someone who has been places many of you never have. Harsh situations both physically and mentally and the mindset change I undertook had led me to 20+ years of higher education, life lessons that only those looking for change could find and a deep desire to not see others settle for mediocrity in life. Not everyone needs to sink as low as I did to feel a need to make changes; we all have trigger points.
Life trigger points are the reflective times in our lives when we look at where we are and feel an overwhelming need to make a change. Changing our lives can be as easy as thinking of where we wish we were and make a conscious decision to take the needed action to move forward. I didn’t notice my first trigger point until I was calling a cardboard Westinghouse box my home. I hope you see your need for change and have your trigger point before you follow in my footsteps.
So how did my trigger point unfold?
My trigger came while I was sitting in my new 15 square foot cardboard studio apartment, recognizing, as the rain dropped around me, how my poor decisions led me to this very spot. I could almost see a map forming in my head that showed each bad decision and the negative impact it made on my life and those around me — too many negatives, not enough positives.
This trigger made me consider what options were available to change my situation, to change my life, to question the limits I had placed on myself. How far could I go without these limits?
Which brings me to my main point ‘getting the life you want!’
I’m not talking about winning the lottery or in being a professional basketball player at age 45. What I’m talking about is the need to define, for yourself, what your future will look like, what limits to set, and which limits to remove.
Take a mental image, get as much detail in that image as possible, make it stand-out like a high-definition, 3D vision; then add in the sense of feeling, of smell, taste. Got your future image in your head? Good.
Now, what would you need to do to get from where you are to where you are living that image? Better education, a better job, a better body or mind? Let’s call these your new goals. Break those goals down into components that require achievement before the completion of your goal. Get detailed here. Example: 4 years university is 16 semesters, four courses per semester, an average of four assignments per class and you are looking at 320 late nights to achieve this goal, and you haven’t even started day one! What study habits do you need to undertake to be successful, what help do you need to elicit to support your journey from friends and family? What are you willing to sacrifice to complete each element of the goal? Each successful course adds up towards the completion, so what does that look like for you?
Seems straightforward until you start down the path and ‘life’ happens to you, pushing you off course and or stopping you in your tracks. Changing your mindset is critical here as it’s the mindset that gets you past the difficult times and keeps you moving towards your goals. It’s not the challenge that stops you from progressing; it’s you.
Here are six concepts that will help:
- Regardless of the chaos in your life, always dress for the role you are moving toward; dress for the job you want. Research shows that dressing professionally makes us feel more powerful
- Make your bed every morning…This simple task, as retired admiral McRaven states, of making your bed every morning means you start your day with one small victory under your belt, makes you feel like you have accomplished your first task and primes your thinking for more success throughout the day.
- Don’t focus on your failures. Failures don’t stop you from succeeding; YOU STOP YOU. Using these failures as learning points, evaluate what went wrong, learn the lessons needed and move on.
- Knowledge accumulates through learning experiences but understanding accumulates by gaining insight into how this knowledge fits together in the bigger picture of life. Understanding comes from the context of knowledge use.
- Don’t expect luck to be on your side. Only you can put in the work needed to be successful, so don’t ever get outworked by someone else. Arnold Palmer famously said about luck ‘the more I practiced, the luckier I got.’
- Planning is essential to achieve your goals, but at some point, you need to stand up and act. When you act, you gain experiences and start to make progress towards your goals. Fast action allows you to refine your plans as you move forward instead of waiting for all the stars to align.
Success in life is based more on your hard work and understanding than on luck and broad exposure of academic knowledge. It takes your accumulation of knowledge and understanding of the world around us and how best to traverse through it before we see what success means from our actions.
While my journey on this third rock from the sun has been a unique one, we can all make the same statement. My path might have been different, and how I perceived my situations is unique to only me; the path to the life you want must be unique to you, but ultimately follows the same principles. Determine where you want to go, commit your self to get there and do it!
These insights are more can be found in my book, Not Your Average Cup of Joe.
The greatest danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark – Michelangelo
Read my book – Not Your Average Cup of Joe
Success in life is based more on your hard work and understanding than on luck and broad exposure of academic knowledge.