“I just want to be successful” is a phrase many people passionately say, but most never define what success looks like. As a society, we spend so much time talking about our desires and dislikes instead of taking action on the things we really want. I’m going to reveal a powerful lesson that has shaped my thinking: “We are the masters of our fate and have the ability to design the life we want.”
Lifestyle design is not a new concept, but it’s one that has become more relevant in today’s world as the traditional view of the “American Dream” has been reimaged to include the reality of today’s work-life environments. Here are a few signs of the changing times: A recent Forbes article explains Why Millennials are Ending the 9 to 5 to create their own jobs. Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive suggests that we should redefine success to include well-being, wisdom and wonder. Finally, people near the end of their lives share the common regret of not having the courage to live true to themselves and living for other people’s expectations instead, according to Bonny Ware’s book Top 5 Regrets of the Dying.
You don’t want to be someone who looks back on life and thinks, “I never reached my full potential.” Instead, implement these five power habits to begin creating the life that you want.
Habit #1 – Develop a Daily Success Routine: You have to be conscious of your time and what you choose to focus on. No more waking up in the morning hitting the snooze button or feeling like you desperately need a cup of coffee to function. A daily success routine is a ritual you follow that creates a predictable outcome for your mood and what you’ll accomplish.
A few ideas: start with saying what you’re grateful for before you leave your bed. Do a few yoga poses and eat a healthy breakfast to get your body properly energized. You might include time for writing, mediation or planning out a to-do list; whatever you need automate the process of having a great day.
Habit #2 – Set up Achievement Sprints: When you devote your attention to a specific task, you can magnify its success. In his book The First 90 Days, Michael Watkins outlines a specific plan to ease transitions for leaders at all levels. In 90 days imagine what you could accomplish: write a book, launch a new product, or put up a new website.
To get started, decide on a project that you can achieve in 90 days and block out the hours on your calendar every week to work on the individual task that will lead to the project goal.
Habit #3 – Practice Personal Expansion: Your business can only grow as much as you do. Start stretching your thinking by reading books like Think and Grow Rich for Women and doing an audit of the people you’re around on a daily basis.
According to author Jim Rohn, “you are the average of the people that you spend the most time with.” Make a monthly date with a mentor you can learn from or join a mastermind group like Soul Circle so you can connect with like minds. If you’re always the smartest person in the room, you’re probably in the wrong room.
Habit #4 – Plan for Financial Liberation: Personally, I believe that the only way to create real freedom is through self-reliance – generating income by freelancing or consulting based on your skills and talents. Additionally, you could build a business or develop a side-hustle while maintaining a 9-to-5, giving you the income for personal and financial freedom.
To get started, read Dave Ramsay’s Total Money Make-Over for a step-by-step plan for getting out of debt. I recommend putting together a household budget and running your business from a weekly cash flow statement. Always pay yourself first and save for the “winters” in life and business. Finally, protect your assets with insurance and invest your profits for long term growth.
Habit #5 – Try Work-Life Experiments: Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result. If you want to move towards a more compelling future, start experimenting with new ideas that will help overcome the norm.
Recently, I tried an experiment of doing one fun thing a week. I used a local city guide to find things to do and put them on my calendar every Sunday evening as a date with myself. Being head down in work 24/7 is not what life is all about. Look for new activities that you can try like salsa dancing, joining a Toastmasters group or trying a new restaurant. Check out SPC’s happiness experiments for ideas to stretch your comfort zone.
Remember that establishing a regimen of simple repeatable habits will move you closer to your goals. If you still need some motivation to design the life you want. As the great artist Leonardo da Vinci said, “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
What’s been holding you back from creating the life you want and what can you do to overcome it?