"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers." Voltaire
How often do you just accept what life throws at you?
Live another day, another week, another year waiting for your ultimate life to present itself?
When was the last time you challenged a fundamental assumption about the way you work, play, or live?
It's pretty natural to just do what everyone else is doing, especially as young professionals when we're led to believe there is a standard path to success.
But doing what everyone else is doing never leads to creating our ultimate lives.
We end up competing in an endless chase for the next raise and promotion, with the hope that our ultimate life will eventually reveal itself like a bright yellow brick road that we can calmly take.
I know better. And so do you.
It wasn't until I asked myself these 5 questions that I was able to leave my corporate job, start the company of my dreams, and live life on my terms.
1. With no limitations and no possibility of failure, what would my ultimate life look like?
Not "success" as defined by society. Not the life constrained by the traditional script of "versatile" degree, lucrative career, retirement, and death.
The one where you do work you absolutely love. Where work and life feel synonymous. Where you live with excitement, flexibility, and fulfillment every day.
For me, my ultimate life was waking up every day with the thrill and freedom of a Saturday, whether I was working or not. Becoming an entrepreneur with my brother. Building a business that helps others live their ultimate lives.
I'm so grateful to now have all these things.
"You get in life what you have the courage to ask for." Oprah Winfrey
2. What’s holding me back? Why not me?
Lack of motivation? Then your ultimate life is not compelling enough.
Lack of time? Lack of priorities.
Lack of conviction? If you don't believe it's possible, no one else will either.
Fear? Fear will always be present, no matter how successful you are. What you should fear most is the cost of inaction, and leaving the unfulfilling or mediocre status quo unchanged.
I experienced just about all of these. The most helpful exercise I did was actually playing out the worst-case scenarios in detail for my greatest fears.
In every case, these fears were either preventable or I could do things to lessen their impact. This helped me gain the courage to take action.
"We have no limitations in life. The only limitations we have is ourselves." Tony Robbins
3. How close am I right now to my ultimate life, and what would I have to do to get there?
Step 1: You have to be brutally honest with yourself about where you are right now. In your career and in your personal life.
Anything that falls short of #1 above is not good enough.
For me, a career in finance was a lucrative and worthwhile experience. I could have done well building that career. But finance was not my ultimate.
Step 2: To build the bridge to your ultimate life, the intermediate steps also have to be ultimate.
Plan out how to leverage your free time, take massive action, and stick to deadlines.
"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." Francis of Assisi
4. What can I do today to move closer to my ultimate life?
Ask yourself this question today. Then do that one thing.
Then, ask yourself the same question tomorrow, and do that one thing.
Then do it the next day. Then every day after that.
Consistent small wins lead to powerful results. If we can build a 6-figure business in a year by taking daily action, so can you.
"Don't let perfectionism become an excuse for never getting started." Marilu Henner
5. At the end of my life, which will I regret more- going for this, or not going for it?
Perhaps the most valuable perspective for making decisions is imagining your thoughts at the end of your life.
Who better to help us with this than people who were at the end of their lives? As hospice social worker Grace Bluerock wrote in a Huffington Post article, the 5 most common missed opportunities identified by people in hospice care were:
- They wished they had loved more deeply
- They wished they had lived their own dream
- They wished they had spent less time working
- They wished they had let themselves enjoy life more
- They wished they had not been so afraid to take risks
Simply acknowledging that our time is limited can influence incredible change.
"Better three hours too soon than a minute too late." William Shakespeare
Disrupt the Cycle
Be careful about what you accept as "fact" or "just the way it is", and never be afraid to challenge any assumption with the right questions.
If work and life feel separate, if you get substantially more excited for life outside of work, it's time to make a change.
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