Three Questions to the Life You've Always Wanted
Very few people I know are actually living the life they want. Most of them are simply living the life they were given. They have hopes and dreams. They have deep desires. But they continue to follow the path of least resistance, giving up long-term joy for the sake of short-term comfort.
I get it. I've done it, too. You need the money, a job opportunity presents itself. You take it without thinking too much about it. But when you do that over and over again you end up one day wondering how in the world you ended up here. This is not the life you wanted.
So, how do you redirect yourself? How do you get back on the path to the life you've always wanted -- the life of freedom, peace, productivity, and joy?
It's simple really. But it won't be easy.
To make sure you stay on the path to the life of your dreams, you must ask yourself three questions. You must ask these questions often, and you must hold yourself accountable to your answers. These answers can become your own personal GPS warning you when you've taken a wrong turn, helping you navigate roadblocks, and guiding you back to the path when you've lost your way.
Question #1: What do I want?
When is the last time you honestly asked yourself that question? I work with leaders from coast to coast, and I can tell you that very few of them know the answer to that question. They can tell me what they're supposed to want. But so many of them have buried their true desires under a heap of "supposed to" that they've forgotten what they honestly want.
Look, this is your life, and you only get one shot at it. What do you want your one and only life to look like? Who do you want to be with? Where do you want to live? What do you want to do every day? No one else can answer these questions for you. Figure it out. It's important.
A helpful hint: You're probably not going to figure it out in one day. It might take you a little while. I work with clients on this for weeks, months sometimes. That's okay. The truth is that the answer isn't the most important thing. Asking yourself the question and listen for your own heart to respond...that's the most important thing. Cultivating this habit sets you up for the next time some new thing comes knocking on your door. You'll be in a better position to ask yourself, "Is this what I really want? Is this an opportunity, or is this a distraction?"
Asking yourself what you want allows you to also ask yourself what you do not want. This gives you the most powerful ability of all: the ability to say no.
Question #2: Who can I help?
Zig Ziglar famously said, "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want." That's the secret to getting the life you've always wanted: find people who need help, and help them. You could call it "adding value" -- or you could call it being a decent human being. Regardless of what you call it, every successful person, business, or organization exists to help others in one way or another.
Don't know where to start? Look at the people you love being around. Look at the people who energize you. Ask them some questions. What keeps them up at night? Where does it hurt in their life? Routinely ask people you love, "What's the best, most helpful thing I could do right now?"
If they say, "Nothing," then go to your actual, physical, geographical neighbors -- the people who live on your left and your right, across the street, across the hall, on the diagonals. Go to them and ask the same questions.
You will find an endless stream of chances to add value to the lives of others. And if you begin to take action on even a small percentage of those chances, you'll end up with the leverage you need to live the life you want. I know this works, because I've seen it happen for dozens of my clients. I've also seen it work for me.
Question #3: Why not start right now?
When your brain sees a long "To Do" list, it immediately starts to wonder what it can put off until tomorrow. That's your brain asking the wrong question.
Go ahead. Give this one a shot. You've probably spent a few minutes now imagining the life you've always wanted. Then you probably spent some time thinking about some of the people you could help that might enable you to live that life you want.
So...why not start right now?
If your brain starts to spout a list of reasons why you can't start it right now, write them down. Put them on a note card or a post-it note and put that somewhere where you can see it tomorrow. My guess is that when you look at your list of excuses tomorrow you'll find some of them funny. It's amazing what one good night's sleep can do to reveal how shallow and pointless your excuses can be. Seeing them written down like that -- disconnected from the monkey in your brain, should prove to you how possible it is to start pursuing your dreams today.
This entire exercise can take as little as five minutes each day. Now, here's what I ask my clients to do: Do this every single day and see what happens.
At first, there may be a few small things. You might send a text to someone to ask them to rate their day on a scale of 1-10, and then send a follow-up text asking what you could do to move their 5 to a 6. Or maybe you'll find a book you've always wanted to read and crack it open. Maybe you'll muster up the gumption to ask that person out.
It'll probably start small, but over time this simple exercise will begin carving away the things blocking your path, revealing the way forward -- to that life you've always wanted. It's the most simple and straightforward way I know of strategically designing the life you want.
Now all that's left is for you to get out there and live it.