Living the Life We Want and Achieving the Success We Define
Have you ever felt as though you should be getting more from life? Do you ever feel tired, stressed out, or overworked?
COVID fatigue and Zoom fatigue have all proven to be modern challenges for many of us. Has your health and vitality suffered during shutdowns and social distancing practices? Do you seem to be completely unable to get afloat or feel normal again? (whatever even is normal anyhow!?) Perhaps you feel like you’re just treading water. All this can eventually start to get you down. This is not what we were promised. Perhaps you always pictured that your life would be different. Many of us assumed we would be happier, more lively, and enjoying each day more than we are right now.
Many of us assume that we should have much more than we do. And we see people around us who seem to have the things that we want to achieve. We see the other guy who is making more money than us and experiencing “Instagram Envy” while seeing all the fun and happy lives others are living. We all know people who are polished, who are confident, who look attractive. We all know people who seem to have it all. So why can’t we have that? Why is life being so unfair to us?
Being an entrepreneur isn’t really about starting a business. It’s a way of looking at the world: seeing opportunity where others see obstacles, taking risks when others take refuge. Entrepreneurship has always driven innovation in the private sector, but increasingly it’s essential to progress in government and the nonprofit sector, too. — Michael Bloomberg, Founder, Bloomberg, L.P.
If you have read any other happy, positive lifestyle guides then you know that this is where you are going wrong from the start. You are blaming your circumstances and blaming other people for your problems. You have everything you need to live a truly incredible life right now. All that is missing is the right mindset to go about achieving it.
Do you love Friday? Are you always looking forward to the weekend?
Me, I dread Friday. I really do. I’m blown away by people celebrating the end of the week like the weekend is some kind of trophy. Is the weekend your escape from your reality?
Look, I’m not saying that the weekend is bad, but when you think about the concept, if you are genuinely celebrating Friday, you really need to reevaluate what you’re working for. You need to rethink your life. Are you working for yourself, or are you working for that Friday night bar tab or something else entirely?
If you genuinely dislike what you do so much that you beg for Friday.
This has to stop.
Maybe it’s time to break the pattern and do something different.
Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform your Career.
In my work in Digital Transformation and intelligent automation, we massively change the way large enterprises function and work by starting with processes and making improvements to be more effective and efficient. We can do that with ourselves too. I aim to challenge the status quo of remaining stagnant because “that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
I’ve learned, your happiness and your accomplishments stem from you. And more than that, they stem from your mindset and the way that you view yourself and your life. They stem from having the drive to go out and get the things you feel you deserve, and from knowing how you are going to go about doing that. I hope you can learn how to make some simple changes.
Isn’t it time to fortify yourself against challenges? You’re practicing to learn to start appreciating all the things you already have. And you’re learning to master your life so that you can decide precisely what kind of person you want to be. Precisely what you are going to achieve today, tomorrow, and in the future.
What Are Your Priorities?
You’re telling people you want to have six-pack abs. You’re telling people you want to be a successful author or a successful business owner, but you haven’t done one thing to make that a reality. You say you want a relationship, but you barely have a relationship with yourself. You tell people that your family means everything to you, but you haven’t spoken to your parents in weeks.
Okay then. So, if you say something to be true, those are the things you should be spending the majority of your time on right? We can lie to everyone else, but when we lay in silence, alone, we cannot lie to ourselves.
The first thing you need to do is to start reassessing some of your priorities. Many of us complain that we aren’t healthier, happier, or richer but we never do anything about it. That’s because despite what we’re saying we aren’t giving those aspects of our lives priority.
If you wanted to, you would.
Let’s break down your current routine shall we and see if we can assess the problem?
If you went and added up all the time in your life that you wasted, every minute when you thought to yourself “I should do something productive right now,” would you be surprised by the amount of time? Do you spend time watching TV, playing video games, or doing something else generally unproductive for your future and for your goals? What would change if you used that time working towards something that you had wanted. Maybe you wanted to write a book, start a business, a side hustle, or even maybe a fitness plan, solve a family matter, or some other goal. Where would you be today if you would make the decision to be productive instead of wasting your time and energy on things that do not matter?
For many of us, we owe an employer a significant portion of our time each week. The common notion is 30–60 hours a week. So let’s call this the 9–5 routine. When you look at your routine, you will probably find is that your lifestyle looks something more like this:
- Sleep: 5–8 Hours
- Work: 6–12 Hours
- Commuting: 1–2 Hours
- Lunch Break: 30 Minutes
- Dinner: 1 Hour
- Everything else: ~5 Hours
In those roughly five hours, you need to fit in waking up, getting ready for the day, washing dishes, doing the laundry, cooking, reading. Now ask me again why you don’t have the lifestyle you want? You claim that your goals and dreams are your top priority and yet you don’t live a life that reflects that in the slightest. This reminds me very much of the problem with modern politics. So often, we are told by our political leaders just how much money they have managed to save. They’ll tell us how they have increased the value of the dollar. They’ll boast that they’re paying off the deficit. But is this how we should really be judging their success? How about much more important metrics like a metric about our quality of life? Or happiness?
You’re doing the same thing in your own life. You’re pouring 90% of your effort into your work and coming away completely exhausted. Of course, everything else suffers.
As I wrote about in Top Trends Impacting the Workplace in 2021, the work from home and hybrid work model is rising in popularity. For many, this time is now spent in a remote home office. But what happens after 5 pm? Sure time for dinner, relaxation, and more, but if you’re not working on yourself and your goals from 7 p.m. to midnight, you're failing yourself today and your future self.
Forging a fulfilling career is one of the most important — and often, most difficult — challenges in building a happy life. — Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project
Be Real With Yourself
Have you ever asked how things got this way? The answer, while it might not be very pleasant, ultimately comes down to fear and indoctrination. We are driven so often by fear. Fear of our partners leaving us, or friends going away. Fear of debt. Fear of not being able to put a deposit on a house. Of being single in our 40s and missing the boat to have children. This means that you are motivated by the stick rather than the carrot. You are focused on running away from all the things you don’t want, rather than toward all the things you do want. And this really isn’t helped by the media and by the way we’re brought up. This is where the whole ‘indoctrination’ part comes in.
“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.” — Will Smith
I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I’m not here to tell you that this is a deliberate move on the part of the government or any such thing, BUT it is nevertheless the way most of us are brought up. We are raised to believe that we are born into some kind of debt. That we owe this debt to society. That hard graft and work is something to be proud of. Meanwhile, we are taught to want all kinds of things that are just out of our grasp. These include widescreen TVs, lavish properties, expensive cars, and more. We work toward these things, we work because we’re afraid of debt, and we work because it is what society expects of us.
But let me ask you this: is there really any inherent value in work itself?
Working toward a good cause is of course a good thing. Working to support your family is likewise to be applauded. But those people who proudly state that they’ve ‘never missed a day of work!’ or who retire in their 80s, or who talk in a generally proud fashion about the work they did stacking palettes or crunching numbers. It’s nice they’re proud. Really it is. But here’s the sad part: if they didn’t come in, the world would keep on ticking without them. And, the worst-case scenario is that someone would get a shipment or a report late. Meanwhile, wouldn’t it have been much better if they had looked after their health? If they had spent more time with their family? If they had pursued a passion? Work in itself should be a means to an end and certainly not a means in itself. Work only has value as long as the end product has value. And even then, it’s not worth sacrificing every other aspect of your life for.
If you do not put forward the effort, nothing is going to change.
Your Cognitive Shift
The simple cognitive shift I want you to make here then is that you are not living to work but working to live. It’s a cliché I know, but if you actually follow that advice through to its logical conclusion, then you find yourself with something akin to lifestyle design. Lifestyle design is a way of life that simply flips traditional notions of work on their head and instead focuses on building a lifestyle you can be happy with. It's this future of work I hope we all find. You decide what it is you want to accomplish, who you want to be, and then you change your career and other factors in order to fit around that lifestyle. For many people, this will mean becoming a digital nomad. Thanks to modern technology, there is no need for us to work from a stuffy office or make a long journey into work. Instead, we can simply load up the computer and work from home.
This affords an amazing amount of freedom, allowing you to work from wherever you like and whenever you like. Many people will take advantage of this by traveling the world with just a laptop and working from coffee shops.
That’s a lifestyle change that could be significant, but it can also mean something much smaller.
Something incredibly important you have to consider is changing the way you think. It means looking at the promotion that comes with so much extra responsibility and it means asking yourself if it’s worth it.
Wouldn’t it be much better to spend more time with your family and keep the job you’ve got? Alternatively, maybe you take on that job but you negotiate to have more time off so that you can regroup when necessary. Or perhaps you take on a part-time job and a side-income instead. Maybe you conclude that in order to follow your passions, the best option is to become an Uber, Lyft, or another rideshare driver so that you can be free when you want to be and earn from work when you want.
It can even mean that you choose to move home somewhere that you’ll be nearer to work so that you have a shorter commute. A shorter commute means 30 minutes extra to yourself per day. Maybe you decide to pay for a cleaner so that you can have a cleaner, more beautiful home! There are so many variables here that you can play around with that you don’t need to take the most obvious route through your life. You don’t have to follow the predetermined path that has been set out for you by society and you don’t need to keep making life harder and harder.
Other Changes to Consider
Choosing to design your own lifestyle and take back control is one way to start getting what you want from life. But there are a few others too that will help you with this. One cognitive shift is to know your worth, to stand your ground, and lose the fear. Another shift is to recognize that time and money are both interchangeable. This latter point means that if you are getting paid more but you are also working longer hours then you aren’t really getting a pay raise at all.
The only way this would count as a pay raise is if you got paid more for working the same hours. So, if you’re being offered a promotion up the ladder but it involves staying later at work, there is an obvious answer! This is where knowing your worth comes in. You see, many of us are afraid to ask for more money, or are afraid to increase our rates. We think if we do that, we’ll lose work and we’ll end up homeless. Again: lose the fear.
This Doesn’t happen: If you are providing a good service to someone, or if you’re a good employee, then you can afford to charge more. Think about how much they’re earning thanks to you and how much they’d lose if you stopped working for them. You have the right to charge more. And not only that, but it is common for wages to go up regardless of responsibilities. So, if you feel you need more money then don’t be afraid to ask for it. And if they refuse? Then you look elsewhere for a new employer or new clients.
Ask for forgiveness, not permission. — Tim Ferriss
Ultimately, you are worth what you think you are worth. If you put a price on your head that is too low, then you can work incredibly hard for no reward. Keep looking. And keep learning. And here’s one more thing: don’t wait. Don’t wait for life to get better. Don’t wait until you’re old and retired. Because life always throws you curveballs and the stars never align. The only way you can live a better life is to start right NOW. And don’t tell me you’re too old: you’re never too old to be the person you always wanted to be.
As Steve Jobs put it, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking.”
So if you’ve been putting off something because of fear, because of opportunity, or because you worry that life won’t be there for you when you get back it is time to buckle up. Take charge and go now. This is the only way you’ll ever go. Work will be there when you get back. And if it isn’t? At least you’ve done something truly memorable and worthwhile. What could be more valuable?
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. — Steve Jobs
It Starts Now With Everything
Hopefully, some of these tips will help you to start getting more from your life simply by changing your priorities and going after the things you want.
So where do you start? The answer is with everything.
What I mean by this, is that if you want to be healthier and happier and to live a better life, then you need to change everything all at once. We’ve discussed that your ability to change your life starts in the mind. But have you considered what affects your mind? The mind has a limited amount of energy. Throughout this article, I’ve asked a lot from you: to take more responsibility, to lose your fear, to practice discipline, to stay motivated. All those things take energy. And if you’ve only got 5 hours outside of work to be productive, then you’re going to struggle. You’ll struggle even more if you’re highly stressed and if you’re burned out.
Everyone, women and men alike, needs to think big to succeed. — Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook, and Author, Lean In
So as you start to put the emphasis a bit more back onto you. As you start to focus on your goals and on the things that make you happy, you can also look at how you can ensure you are charged and able to get the very most out of life. It starts with simple things: things like getting enough sleep, going out in the sun, and maybe things like taking vitamin supplements.
Later it goes on to more profound matters: learning to meditate. Finding a passion. Surrounding yourself with the right people. Every aspect of your health and your lifestyle will impact the way you feel and what you can accomplish. You need to start small and build up the energy you want. Right now you might feel trapped by your circumstances, so find just that small crack of light. That might mean doing something a little extra, making changes, or maybe implementing systems to keep your home tidier to give you the mental space to start challenging your work-life balance… then it will all be worth it.
Learn to appreciate what you have right now. Because this is the ultimate key to happiness. The truth is that if you keep dreaming of that widescreen TV then you won’t be able to escape the hedonistic treadmill. You’ll stay in the fight or flight mode, you’ll keep pushing and fighting. And looking forward to a holiday or upcoming event isn’t much better. Looking forward to quitting your job isn’t that much better either.
Do it now. And meanwhile, learn to focus on what’s already just right in your life. If you stop and sit still a moment, if you practice a ‘gratitude mindset’ you’ll realize you’ve probably already accomplished a whole lot. You will probably realize you have so much to be happy about, but that your biggest downfall is comparing yourself to some imaginative creation from your brain of what you thought was suppose to be, or maybe you’ve just been trying to compare yourself to someone you’re not, and that is the other people in your life.
Think and consider are you really “Glad to Be Here?” And you’ll find that you already have many happy moments in your daily life. Live in those moments and start expanding on that to build the life you want.
Welcome To Permanent Beta
The career escalator is jammed at every level. Unemployment rates are sky-high. Creative disruption is shaking every industry. Global competition for jobs is fierce. The employer-employee pact is over and traditional job security is a thing of the past.
We are all works in progress. It doesn’t matter whether you are a recent graduate, a seasoned professional, or a reinventing yourself mid-career. Great people, like great companies, are always evolving. They’re never finished and never fully developed. Each day presents an opportunity to learn more, do more, grow more. Permanent beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous personal growth. It is the mindset of every entrepreneur of life.
It’s the start-up of you! Here, LinkedIn cofounder and chairman Reid Hoffman and author Ben Casnocha show how to accelerate your career in today’s competitive world. The key is to manage your career as if it were a start-up business: a living, breathing, growing start-up of you.
Why? Start-ups — and the entrepreneurs who run them — are nimble. They invest in themselves. They build their professional networks. They take intelligent risks. They make uncertainty and volatility work to their advantage.
These are the very same skills professionals need to get ahead today.