You want a grand life.
Or, at the very least, you want to be able to pay the bills doing what you love and not have to worry about picking up enough shifts to cover rent.
Everybody has the opportunity to create something worthwhile, but not everybody takes advantage of it. Some people go with the flow of life; if any opportunity comes their way and it seems okay, they’ll snag it. If not, no stress.
Not everybody has a burning desire to color outside the lines.
When I first started getting serious about my writing, I turned to all the writers who were already in the game and killing it. One, in particular, was Ryan Holiday; in this article, he shares three important decisions that every person needs to make before they can have their ideal life.
In his words,
“Three important decisions, made early, can eliminate so much of that anguish. They can set you up to not only be successful but put you in a position to enjoy that success. These three choices have changed my business life. But they have fulfilled what I think are the two main criteria for anyone making choices about how to run their life and work: 1) They made me money. 2) They made me happier.”
When I finally answered these questions, I gained a lot of clarity on not just the type of person I want to become, but the legacy I want to leave behind.
I hope these questions will also benefit you and provide you with the vision that you need to keep going both personally and professionally.
What’s your why behind everything you’re doing?
For a long time, my why was money.
Needless to say, it didn’t go very well.
There’s nothing wrong with money being a goal of yours. Money is a means to an end. Money is valuable because of the things you can do with it.
You like it for the opportunities it gives you the time it allows you to take back. The freedom it provides you with. The stress it alleviates.
But, your why has to have more depth than making bank. Your why has to serve a purpose and make you feel like the effort you put into your work daily is all worth something.
Founder Jeff Bezos, raised by his teen mom and later his Cuban immigrant stepfather, always dreamed of creating something different. He had a vision for his company’s explosive growth and e-commerce domination.
He knew from the very beginning that he wanted Amazon to be “an everything store.” And, the primary reason that its as successful as it is now is due to the massive innovation that Bezos has created. He had a vision — and he honed in on it.
Make your why personal and inspiring. Make it something that will get you out of bed every morning and encourage you to work on your worst of days.
Things that helped me:
- Lots of reassessments and evaluating life
- Asking questions like, “what makes me happy?” or “where do I want to see myself in 2–5 years?” or “what do I want to be known for?”
Write it all out. Look at it daily, refer to it when you’re struggling and allow it to hold you accountable.
Everytime you have a bad day, pull that sheet of paper out and read your why. Anytime you have a small win and you think you’re done (you’re not) pull that sheet of paper out and remind yourself where you’re going.
My why is helping others reach their fullest potential. I spent so many years not realizing I even had any, and I can’t imagine anyone going through their life feeling the same way. I want to build a community of people that know and understand that you can be better. You can do better. You can make something of yourself even when others doubted you.
How do you want to live?
This will look different for everyone; for me, I want a life of ultimate freedom. The ability to travel wherever — and whenever with no budget. The ability to go to a Michelin star restaurant on a random Tuesday night.
The freedom to live my life as I please. To not be told what to do or when to do it.
As Ryan suggests:
“Take inventory of the most enjoyable and satisfying days of your life. Now be sure that you’re working towards these, not away from them.”
If you know that you hate working a 9–5, then find something else.
If you hated school, don’t put yourself through college just to be miserable for the next 4+ years.
If you’ve spent your entire life doing things one way when in reality, the complete opposite makes you happy, start doing those things.
I grew up without much money; I put myself through school despite hating school, I got a 9–5 despite knowing I didn’t like to be bossed around and I hated being told where to be and what time to be there. I did everything I knew I secretly hated because I never asked myself what kind of life I truly wanted, and I suffered for it.
Self-awareness is key here; you need to stop and break the cycle that’s been ruining your happiness.
Things that helped me:
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What would you like your life to look like?
- What will make you happy?
- Where do you want to live?
- Where do you want to shop?
- How would you want to spend your mornings? Afternoons? Nights?
- How often do you want to travel?
- What kind of restaurants do you want to go to?
Get creative here. Write it down. Create the ideal future.
Then, make another list, this time a list of things you hate doing:
- I don’t like being told when to go to work
- I hate having to go to an office when I could do my job from home
- I hate being away from my pets
- I hate having to budget my vacations
- I hate feeling suppressed
Spend some good time on both of these lists. Make yourself a cup of tea and really consider all of your options, think about what makes you happy, what you wish you were doing, and also think about what you absolutely hate doing.
Then, start doing more of what makes you happy.
Are you okay with not caring about what others are doing?
The key to finding your why and designing your ideal life will mean making an incredibly hard decision, and that’s to stop caring what others are doing.
Do you know how to stay in your own lane?
Who cares if Karen just traveled through Europe and recorded her entire experience resulting in her going viral?
Who cares if Harry just signed a book deal on his first try?
Outside people do not affect your life. Everybody is a work in progress, and everybody is in different stages of their lives.
Unless you’re willing to trade your entire life with that person, you can’t be frustrated and upset about all of the things that they have and you don’t. Don’t blindly assume their life is so great just because the pictures they post are perfect.
You have your own calling, and your own path to pave.
When you decide to pursue a goal or certain career, and you see others doing something similar, you can’t dwell on how you’re not as successful as them.
You can’t compare your journey to theirs. They’re somewhere else, they grew up differently, they were raised differently, they might have had different opportunities, they had different doors open for them, they had different ones shut on them, they had to take different routes.
There is no one clear-cut way to success; everyone paves their own path, which is why comparing yourself to others will never benefit you.
Things that helped me:
A lot of digital detoxing.
Comparison is hard; it’ll creep up on you without you even realizing it, which is why eliminating your triggers can be extremely helpful.
Practice getting off social media. Unfollow people you find yourself constantly comparing your work with.
Don’t mindlessly scroll through Facebook or IG and complain about how other peoples lives seem so much better than your own.
Stay focused in your own lane, detach yourself from the media, and what other people are doing.
Kudos to them for doing it. Guess what? You’re doing something too, something different. You’re on a different level. And, you’re just as good.
So keep hustling, keep working, stay focused, and most importantly stay in your own lane.