This post is written by Jonathan Wright, our Leadership Quantified Expert in Social Media, Online Business Development and Micro-Business - and so much more. One of my great joys in working with him is our discussions on mindfulness and defining our lives as more than our jobs or by outside criteria. Instead, what we both agree is that it's how you live your life that matters. It's that simple - which means getting the complexity out. This post goes to the heart of that challenge. I think you'll enjoy it. I know it will resonate in everyone's life.
Life, much like time, is a series of choices. Every second we're making choices: Say this or that. Wear this or that. Eat this or that.
Yet the most important choices are usually made as a reaction as opposed to an action. We're so busy with the tasks that fill our days we forget about our goals.
- Where do I want to be in five years?
- If I retire in ten years, will I be financially stable?
- What and who do I want to be when I grow up? (Side note: I'm 47 and still haven’t answered that question.)
- Am I happy?
- If not, how do I change it?
My view of life is that we live in a HUGE world offering a smorgasbord of experiences and places to be or want to be. If you're not happy where you are, pack a duffle bag, relocate and start over….
Okay, I already hear it:
- "I have responsibilities!”
- “How would I live?”
- “Well that’s nice for you but I have kids and a spouse and while my job may not be my dream job it pays the bills and in this economy that’s golden.”
- “I'm too scared of….”
Ironically, we're more miserable feeling trapped by our bills, families, social structures, corporate structures and all the rest. So here's the one question you should ask:
How’s that working out for you?
Decades of studies have shown that humans spend most of our waking hours in stressful reactionary mode to try to control the onslaught of consequences from earlier poor choices made too quickly and with no focus. We wake up suddenly one day realizing we're getting older and have little to show for all our years of labor and strife. We keep playing catch up...yet never do. We begin to believe that we can never have the "Happy Life" we used to daydream about. We become afraid it’s already too late. We lie to ourselves and convince ourselves that we'll get started tomorrow...tomorrow there's always another tomorrow.
In a final act of desperation - and staying on the path of least effort - we reach out to books, coaches, motivational speakers to try to reignite our passions. Sometimes we need to rediscover them.
Ready for more irony? All the books and coaches and speakers tell us the same thing:
Be quiet, be still and listen for that little voice that is our soul to whisper our purpose.
So simple, right?!? Nope.
In a world of instant information and gratification we become impatient and want our enlightenment NOW. We think maybe another book or coach or speaker will make that "voice" a little louder and clearer.
OR, you think…
"Maybe I can pay someone to listen to my voice for me and tell me what it’s trying to tell me….channel my inner voice."
Ummm…okay….If that works for you fine. I'm all for whatever makes that light snap on.
But all it really takes is some quiet, some privacy and some reflection. Here's what you do:
- Turn off your phone, close the door, get out some paper and a pen and slowly begin to reflect on your current job.
- What parts of it do you love? List those….
- Now think about your last three positions and list what you loved about them…
- Now list 5 to 10 things you love to do….anything…
- Now write a paragraph describing your dream job...
- Now review. See the similarities….
- Take it one step further: Take out your computer and in the search bar enter all the words you listed, minus the dream job paragraph….
- Hit Search.
Okay, so now what? Now you formulate a plan on how to get from where you are to where you want to be. Too much trouble? Hmmmm…
Look around you. If you're happy in your current state then stop reading and move on. If you're not happy - and in fact if you find yourself irritated by this exercise or the results - you need to push past that irritation and get a plan in place so you're not looking back in ten years with a head full of regrets and a monotonous life.
It’s really so simple: Once you know your starting and ending points, you build the path, step-by-step, to get to your destination. Those steps become a checklist to get you where you want to be - with every step making you more brave, more confident and closer to your goal.
Maybe you need more education - enroll in one or two night classes. Maybe you need to practice your skill set - volunteer for some pro bono work to hone your skills. Maybe you want a whole new profession - so you start out part-time and build your success into a full-time passion.
You'll find you become so engrossed in the journey that all of a sudden you look up one day and you're there.
I know this sounds too easy and, yes, there are many challenges along the way - but that’s also part of the vetting process. There's something to be said for keeping your head down and following that path you set...because before you know it you’re there.
If you keep taking time to Be Quiet, Be Still and Listen, you'll stay on your path and time will seem to bend and move you even faster toward your goals. Start with 5 minutes a day, and then add more. You'll find you're reluctant to come out of the quiet.
I learned this using my trial and error life as a map and realized there's a much easier way. But since you don’t know me - and these days we need to see a step-by-step example by someone we recognize as successful - I highly suggest you get a copy of the book The Architecture of All Abundance written by Lenedra Carroll.
Sound familiar? Maybe her daughter will: Singer-Songwriter Jewel.
The book is a personal and professional diary of the journey Lenedra and Jewel took together to create the superstar that is Jewel - as well as multiple for-profit and non-profit companies with worldwide reach and millions and millions of dollars.
From the solitude of the wilds of Alaska to living in vans and on the wind to private jets and music moguls' offices, Lenedra weaves us through her journey in a practical, spiritual but not too airy-fairy, often humorous voice...peppered with one "Ah-hah" moment after another. There's plenty of vivid recounting of those moments of solitude that I'm talking about and the clarity of purpose they bring, with numerous examples of those moments, before and during high powered meetings or in a quiet secluded cabin.
Alongside the spiritual moments and real life examples are sound business and personal development advice:
- Silence brings clarity.
- Clarity brings focus.
- Focus helps eliminate the distractions that keep you from moving forward.
The Architecture of All Abundance (Lenedra Carroll)