I’m wondering if you’re like many people I speak with who don’t have the kind of life they really want? What does it take to create a meaningful life? How do you focus on doing things that are important and meaningful to you?
According to a recent survey, only 33% of Americans feel happy, content and satisfied. I’m sure results are similar in Canada, Europe and other parts of the world.
People feel trapped inside jobs they don’t like, too much time is spent on things they don’t care about, they aren’t living for what matters most, and they have almost lost hope that it will ever be any different. In short, they’ve thrown in the towel and have come to terms with being a ‘spoke in the wheel.’
Have you ever felt this way? First, I understand those thoughts can seem very real. But they are what I call, “victim speak.” Saying these kinds of words over and over is what gives negativity power in your life and makes you feel discouraged and hopeless. Victim speak occurs whenever you believe that someone or something is responsible for your unhappy state of affairs. For example, “I’m stuck in this awful job because I can’t get anyone else to hire me,” or, “I can never get ahead because I can barely bring in enough money to pay my bills,” “I can’t succeed because of the bad economy.”
There’s only 1 way to defeat this kind of negativity. Take your power back! Whenever you allow these thoughts into your mind, you give them power over your life and circumstances. Power to control what you think and who you are becoming. Taking your power back is acknowledging that although you may feel this way now, your have the power to reject those statements and do something IN THE PRESENT to create a more meaningful life. The kind of life that matters most to you.
Here are 5 things I’ve learned from the most successful people I know on how to create change NOW and have more meaning in your life:
(1) Cast a HUGE vision for your life and do 1 thing everyday that gets you closer to it.
Less than 3% of people live out of a personal vision. It might be somewhere in their heads but it’s not being lived out in their lives. Yet a clear vision is one of the most powerful resources at your disposal in helping create change. According to Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner, authors of, The Leadership Challenge (a fantastic book you must read), the traits that are most admired in a leader worldwide are, “Inspiring” and “Forward Looking,” both vision related.
So, what do you do? Cast a vision for your life you are proud of and write it down. It doesn’t matter how big, how bold, or how far fetched it sounds. This is your life we are talking about and it’s time you started leading it with courage. If you don’t lead your life, someone or something else will be happy to lead it for you.
After you’ve written your vision, do (1) thing everyday that gets you closer to accomplishing it. If you want to be an author, write 250 words a day. Want to be a speaker? Join a group like toastmasters and practice in the mirror every day. A better leader? Take an online leadership course and practice leadership skills every day. Create small wins in your life because they turn into big wins. Most of us vastly underestimate how the power of what 1 small win everyday can do in the course of a year. This is not about what you can’t do, it’s about what you can do.
(2) Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself isn’t about sitting around blurting out mantras for therapy. “I think I can, I think I can.” It’s about controlling the messages going into your mind. Make certain you are believing positive and empowering things regarding your ability to accomplish what matters.
Most of us don’t even realize that we look ourselves in the mirror every day and ask one primary question, “Do I matter?” Are the things I’m doing with my life making people better? Am I doing something that has lasting value? Am I committing my time to helping change the world in some small way?
For many people the answer to this question is, “No.” And they go on living a life a scarcity with shallow dreams and surface level relationships. This is one reason people are addicted to video games. A video game gives a false sense of accomplishment. I won a battle! I caught a Pokemon! This is a short lived shot of dopamine that will never bring meaning.
When you believe in yourself, your confidence grows. You will take more risks. You will say “no” to more of the wrong things and “yes” to the right things. But this is a process. Get around the right people who will help you, read the right books, listen to the right podcasts, consistently make decisions you are proud of, or find a good counsellor to help. Whatever it takes, learn to believe that you are enough and you have what it takes to live your dreams. Believe in yourself and BELIEVE YOU CAN!
(3) Serve People
In our world obsessed with comfort and entertainment this is one of the greatest needs in our world. We are becoming more and more self-obsessed. Great success in life doesn’t come from being selfish, it comes from sacrifice and serving others.
One of the greatest quotes I know is from Zig Ziglar, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Be a person who gives more than they take. Go above and beyond to serve people and help them become better. Your self-sacrifice in the lives of people will always yield a huge harvest one way or the other.
(4) Do Hard Things
Life is about risk. Our natural instinct is to run to safety. It feels good being in your happy place with your feet propped up by the fire reading a good book. It’s perfectly fine to do that on occasion, but it’s a terrible way to live your life.
When my family stepped out of the comfort zone of the United States and left our shiny cars and huge house, it was hard. The easy thing to do was to keep watching our favorite soccer games in front of our 65 inch HD TV by the crackling fire as the snow came down in Colorado. To be honest I miss it. But I wouldn’t trade it for the lessons we’ve learned living in a foreign country.
Our family is closer than we’ve ever been, we have all grown emotionally by leaps and bounds, we’re creating a lifestyle that is based on our values, and the opportunities on our doorstep are helping to fulfill many of our dreams. We are creating and living meaning. None of this would have happened if we didn’t step out of our own self-imposed boxes and believe that anything is possible.
So what would you do if anything was possible? Do that. And do it now.
(5) Live with an Incredible Sense of Gratitude
This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned this year and I’ve discovered that most successful people live this way. Be grateful, for everything. Life is a gift and if you treat it as such it will reward you in amazing ways.
Gratitude is more than giving thanks. It’s about living with the wonderful sense that you are blessed beyond measure because of who is in your life and what is in your life.
I had to teach myself how to do this. I’m not a “naturally grateful” person. But I’m learning to be. One of the most powerful things I’ve learned to do is stop at least once during the day and think about what I have to be grateful for that day. The long hug of my youngest child, the run I took in the park that was filled with beauty, the love and wisdom I see in my wife by how she cares and loves our family – when I really think about it, the list is endless.
You can, and you WILL have a meaningful life. But don’t just sit there and read words, ACT!!! Massive action creates massive results so stop everything and (1) Cast a huge vision and write it down (2) Do something every single day that helps fulfil that vision (3) Believe you can do it (4) Become a great leader by serving others (5) Do hard things and (6) Live with gratitude
I’m believing in you, I know you can do it, and I’m always here to cheer you on! Tom ~ Your Positivity Coach