Creating Your Own Optimal Life
This week I was reminded of the haunting truth that we are totally responsible for our direction in life.
Too often we get so busy with our daily work that we forget how much freedom we actually have. As Michael Angier says, “We get caught up in the thick of thin things.” We focus on the tasks of daily living and rarely take time to chart our course, choose our values, and design the life we truly want.
Life can be a source of love and wonder, of joy and fulfillment, but sometimes in our hurry to run errands, take care of the family and do our work, we forget to slow down, look around, live well and enjoy the ride. This is your life! Don’t let it pass you by.
As Henry Thoreau observed 150 years ago, too many of us live “lives of quiet desperation” not because we are poor, but because of our desire to have, to do, or to be something or someone other than who we are.
The good news is that we are already wealthy! Most of us have access to more books and education, entertainment, travel, and business opportunities than we could explore in a life time. Technology has put the entire world at our feet. We watch concerts and sporting events with a better view than the best seat in the house! The Internet makes the greatest books ever written available with the click of a mouse. And, the wonder is that even the poorest among us can fully participate in this “rising tide” of rich experiences.
The rub is that too often we are too busy to notice.
Success, it seems to me, is about choosing the lifestyle you prefer and accepting responsibility for it. Most Americans choose to work about 40 hours a week, earning what we call a “middle class” income. This supplies our need for food, clothing and shelter, and allows us to enjoy a nice car, some travel, a few luxuries and time for television, friends, and relaxation.
A few, however, make other choices. Some choose to work more, while others play more, travel more, or make other choices that diverge from the average. While no example will apply to everyone, typically those who choose to have more children will have less free time, and perhaps less discretionary money. Those who spend more time on recreation may be promoted less rapidly, while those who pursue an entrepreneurial or business path may have less “free” time.
The key, of course, is that there no mythical right choice. There is only the requirement that we make our choices and take responsibility for our results. You can have almost any life you desire, but you cannot avoid the necessity to choose.
One of the great tragedies is that many of our choices are made without adequate thought or consideration. Someone offers us a job, and we grab it. We buy a house, settle down, make friends and believe these things define “the way things are.”
The reality is that we have the power to choose the life we want. At any time, we can change our minds, and our lives. We all know people who have transformed their lives through the power of choice, and so can you! It’s not easy, but it is possible. We all know people who went back to school, who started a business, who made a decision to transform their lives. That potential is inside each of us.
True success is living your own life in your own way. This week, take time to dream. Clarify the life you truly want, jot some notes, make some plans, and take action. From this day forward, move in the direction you truly want to go!
Be specific. Start small if you must. Take baby-steps, make small but persistent changes. Get coaching, ask for advice, read the instructions, be willing to make mistakes or false-starts, copy what others have done–great ideas are free for the taking!–but move in the direction you want to go. This is your live! There is, really, no alternative.
Paths to Wealth
I’ve concluded there are at least four ways to make money and accumulate significant wealth in this world.
1. Make an unusually valuable contribution. This is the easiest and most successful path wealth, but since it
usually comes disguised as hard work, it’s also the path most resisted. The world pays for our expertise, our
effort, our ideas and our inventions, and it pays extremely well if make unusually valuable contributions.
2. Save and invest. This, too, is a reliable and nearly fool-proof road to wealth, but since it takes time,
personal discipline and has absolutely no sex appeal, it is largely ignored. Spend less than you make, save the
difference, let time and compound interest make you rich.
3. Inherit money. I’ve read that in the next few years twenty trillion dollars of accumulated wealth will be
transferred from the passing generation to the younger one. Nothing like that has ever happened before! It pays to select the right parents!
4. Be lucky. Be in the right place at the right time. Know the right people or win the lottery. While this one
unpredictable and fickle (and gives rise to a sense that life isn’t “fair”), it happens often enough to give us
hope. Unfortunately, the statistics are against you. But who knows? Luck happens.
Unfortunately, I didn’t know these rules before I was born and so chose wonderful but poor parents, and the statistics have proven entirely reliable–I’ve won no lotteries. So, from personal experience I can only recommend paths one and two.
Get good at what you do. Love it enough to get VERY good at it, and the world will pay accordingly. Then, save and invest, and let time be your friend.
To make big changes quickly and safely, coaching is often helpful. Big changes (even small ones!) can seem
dangerous and too often, we back out. Don’t let that happen to you! If you have big goals, passionate dream sand determination, consider working with a coach. I have a couple openings coming up this month with a special investment reduction for couples and teams of two.
Let’s talk about it!