What is the difference between leading a rich and fulfilling life and simply existing…?
The answer to that is going to vary from person to person but will very rarely have anything to do with your earning potential.
For most people it’s about an inner quest to test yourself…to become the best person you can be, and to live the best life you can in the time you have available, whatever that looks like for you.
In years to come, would you rather look back on your life with pride and all the things you’ve accomplished, the places you’ve been, the experiences you’ve had and the memories you’ve created with the ones you love? Or regret all the opportunities you’ve missed along the way to be the real you or do the things you’ve always yearned to do but didn’t out of fear, or a sense of obligation?
We all start out full of hopes and dreams, but over time they gradually get eroded away. They become buried under the weight of others’ expectations and our growing responsibilities until the need for security outweighs our desire to see what we are really capable of.
It’s not unusual to drift off course and find yourself settling for the life that is unfolding before you. But you always have a choice, a choice whether to stay as you are and continue to go with the flow and see where it takes you, or a choice to start making some changes to your life to allow you to grow and evolve and start leading a richer, more fulfilling life…
Eight months ago, my Dad died. It was so unexpected it shocked me to the core and really highlighted the fragility of life and how everything can change at the drop of a hat.
It made me reflect on my own life and everything I’ve done, seen and achieved so far.
As with most people, my life has had its ups and downs, including some pretty low lows. But on the whole I’m pretty proud of what I’ve achieved.
As child, I could never have imagined I would go on to spend the best part of 20 years in the Diplomatic Service with all the opportunities and amazing experiences it opened up for me.
And even in my thirties when I was dreaming of owning my own business, I’d never have believed that one day that would be a reality.
But I also know there is so much more I want to achieve. Projects that are so big I was scared to even try until this reality check came along and reminded me to make the most of every moment.
And that got me wondering about how my life, with all its big dreams, could be so different from my Dad’s and whether he was really as content with his lot as he seemed.
You see unlike me, my Dad spent most of his life living and working within a couple of miles of where he was born. He worked in a series of small businesses in the town and was made redundant on a number of occasions, always finding a new job pretty quickly so he could keep supporting the family.
But that’s not to say he didn’t have dreams of his own. In his early twenties he was planning on emigrating to Canada, but then he met my Mum and spent six months in Holland until they married and returned to England to live.
Over the years exciting opportunities presented themselves…a big family house in need of renovation, an even bigger home that made an ideal development opportunity and the chance to buy-out a great business that had been badly managed by its owner. But sadly my Dad always erred on the side of caution.
It’s not that he didn’t have the skills. He was both intelligent and a skilled craftsman with a tonne of experience both on the shop floor and at management level. He had so much potential…
So why, when we were so alike in many ways, did we end up following such different paths…?
What I realised was that the answer is a complex mix of personality, conditioning and circumstances. But at the heart of it are 7 key ingredients that drive those who end up living the life they want to live, rather than just letting it happen.
1. Keep one eye on the here and now and the other on the future
Having a clear vision of where you are heading to is the key to your success. And the more of a stretch it is the better because it will encourage you to constantly grow and evolve as you move towards it.
I always go by the philosophy that if you can imagine it, you can create it, no matter how big and scary that might be.
But those big dreams are a long way in the future for a reason. It takes time to build up the skills, knowledge and experience you need, to build up the resources, and to evolve as a person and get yourself into the right mindset to achieve them.
And that is why it’s important to learn to focus on the here and now and on the future in tandem.
It’s important to keep your vision for the future in mind when planning your business and setting your goals. Your short and medium term goals shouldn’t just be aimed at the things you want to be, do and have in the short term. You also need to include some which will help you keep moving towards those long term goals…qualifications or experience you need to gain, resources you need to build up or an additional income stream which will help you build the nest egg you need to achieve those goals faster.
2. Need to have fire in your belly to keep driving you forward
Without passion and commitment for what you are trying to achieve, you will find it hard to maintain the focus and drive you need to keep going, especially when things aren’t going to plan.
When you do something because it’s the sensible option or you think it’s the ‘right’ thing to do, you don’t have the same desire to take the action needed, particularly the tasks you don’t enjoy doing so much or that scare you.
So instead of playing it safe, choose goals/dreams/projects, or whatever you want to call them, that really light you up.
3. Believe in yourself
I love the Henry Ford quote “Whether you believe that you can or you believe that you can’t…you’re right!”. It nicely captures the fact that where you place your focus is where you will see results.
If you don’t really believe you have the ability to achieve what you are aiming for, you are much less likely to achieve it.
Why…? Because you’ll be constantly looking for evidence to support that belief, making you doubt yourself more leading to indecisiveness and procrastination.
You will allow the fears that come to all of us to start taking over, reinforcing the messages going around in your head that you’re not ‘good enough’.
And the more you focus on your negative beliefs the less likely you are to remain focused and take the big scary action needed.
On the flip side, when you believe you can do anything you set your mind to you can achieve great things.
When you hit an obstacle, instead of seeing it as evidence of failure, you will look for ways around it. When something you try fails, you won’t see it as a sign that you should give up but will learn from it and try again.
You will be able to see all the little wins along the way and use them to motivate you and maintain focus.
4. Not letting others get into your head
Sadly, the truth is that when you’re trying to achieve something big not everyone in your world will be supportive.
They’ll think it’s ok to give you unsolicited advice on what they think you should or shouldn’t be doing. They’ll feel the need to voice their concerns or give you a ‘reality check’.
But the important thing to remember is that it’s not about you. The views they’re expressing are a reflection of their own fears and limitations, so don’t take them to heart.
Most of our lives we strive to fit in, and other people’s beliefs strongly influence our own belief system, especially those we’re exposed to at a young age. But there comes a time, if you want to stretch yourself, when you have to step out of the shadows and have the courage of your own conviction.
You need to stop relying so heavily on other people’s opinions or worry about what they might think and start trusting your own instincts.
You don’t have to let existing relationships go, but you do need to start surrounding yourself with people who are on a similar journey to you and have the same hopes and dreams, who can guide you and support you along the way.
5. Have a constant thirst for knowledge
Knowledge is power. And your thirst for knowledge should be never ending.
If you want to build something new there will always be new things to learn and skills to develop. And there will also be new levels to reach as you build higher.
But it’s not just your professional development you need to keep working on. You also need to keep working on yourself, reprogramming the limiting beliefs that have been holding you back and stretching the boundaries of your imagination.
Neither will come to an end. They’re part of an ongoing process.
And more than that…it’s what makes life interesting, that thirst for new knowledge.
6. Be prepared to take risks
If you keep doing the same thing, you will only ever achieve the same results.
If you want something more from life however, you need to be prepared to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. You need to be prepared to face your fears head on and keep pushing on regardless.
But you also need to be prepared for the fact that not everything you try will succeed…that there will be failures along the way.
The biggest thing that holds people back from achieving their dreams is the fear of failure. But the truth is that in failure come your best opportunities to learn and grow.
So take the risks because regardless of the outcome, you will keep moving forward in some way.
7. Never give up!
There will be times when you’re tempted to just give up. Times when things don’t go to plan, or the success you were hoping for doesn’t come as quickly as you hoped.
But it’s important to never give up because you never know what is around the next corner.
Whether it feels like it or not, everything that happens along your journey will shape you. It will provide you with the building blocks you need to get you closer to your ultimate goal.
So keep going…keep chasing those dreams!
Work With Melanie...
If you'd like to discuss how you can turn your ideas into a profitable business that allows you to wave goodbye to your corporate job and create the life you’ve been dreaming of then book a call with Melanie by clicking this link > > https://calendly.com/melaniecoleman/byb