A lot has changed, and a lot has stayed the same. 2020 forced a shift that impacted how everyone thinks about how we work, how and where we live, and essentially, what we want from the time we have on this planet.
If you are like me, you haven’t missed a beat: work hasn’t slowed down, and life now has two modes: fast and faster. And while muscling through it each day, I couldn’t ignore a nagging voice inside saying, “this doesn’t feel satisfying anymore.” I know I'm not alone. I coach people daily and hear from both men and women that they know something must change but find it hard to stop the rollercoaster long enough to think intentionally about the future. Or, like you, they might contemplate a lot at night when exhausted or for 10 min while walking the dog. And that is not acceptable. [Hello! This is your life!]
Let's face reality.
Re-defining success can be difficult. If you’ve spent your life building a career, success is most likely defined by your title, pay, company, and accomplishments. Thinking about success and fulfillment in new or different ways will feel unnatural and potentially uncomfortable. Same if you have been working for yourself, running a home and family, or creating art or other non-corporate endeavors. Any new thinking will potentially trigger your ego (the part of your identity attached to these external measures of success) into fear or uncertainty. Anything that throws us off or makes us uncomfortable won’t fit into your daily grind. Who has time to feel even more discomfort when we have back-to-back Zoom meetings or kids that need to be shuttled from school and to volleyball practice?
Your life is limited. We only have so much time to work with. If you have a nagging inside and desire a more fulfilling life, let’s get to the new good life as soon as possible without unnecessary upheavals or ruminating self-doubt.
Let me offer a new approach. Below are five high-impact, short sprint activities you can do alone. All you need is a pen and paper.
1. Be honest about what and whom you LOVE.
In less than 15 minutes, you can jot down a list of the things you LOVE. Not like.
Not lukewarm. Not what someone else has told you to care about.
I’m talking about LOOOOVVVEEEEE. A full fuck yes!
To help, I have posed eight questions below to get you started. Don’t “settle” or limit yourself as you consider each question or you can think of things yourself without a prompt. Don’t allow your brain to force you into listing things you are lukewarm about or that are imposed by others.
Do this NOW! Just write it down or type it in your device's Notes App. Let your heart respond to the items below with a complete “fuck yes, I LOVE that” :)
Who makes you smile?
What brings joy?
What topics, places, and people are magnetic to you?
What makes you laugh out loud?
What places or scenarios make you breathe a sigh of relief when you are there?
What accomplishments make you feel proud?
What topics are interesting to you?
What makes you curious?
2. What do you VALUE at this point in your life?
After you make your “what I LOVE” list above, consider what each item tells you about what you value. For this exercise, assume that what you “value” is the “worth” you place on things and people in your experience.
Your “internal values system” functions at an unconscious level. This system is a collection of integrated mental models and beliefs are woven together like a tapestry that guides how we go about our day-to-day life. What we believe to be of “value” is demonstrated through our actions and decisions. This system is refined over our lifetime as we experience relationships and situations and then “learn” from the consequences of our choices.
The older you are, the more ingrained your mental models are. This can be good if you are happy and satisfied with your life. When we are unhappy and want to change something in our life, we can tap into this values system to start making decisions to create the life that our heart truly desires.
I want you to dig deep. Be honest with yourself. And don’t worry about choosing words that might sound good or resonate with anyone else. This is about you being aligned with yourself.
You will notice that some of the things you write are life-long beliefs confirmed by your choices in physical reality. (You do it consistently!) Some of the things you write might be aspirational, which means there is an opportunity for you to activate this value with new choices in your physical reality. (You start taking further actions or making different choices consistently.)
Here is what that might look like:
I like being good at my job and being recognized for it.
I always want to have extra spending money that I can decide how to spend without other people telling me yes or no.
I want my body to be healthy and attractive.
I think supporting people “in need” is my responsibility.
3. What LEGACY do you want to leave when you exit this life?
Yes, I know, this is yucky. But now is the time since our life isn’t meant to be forever if you have not started to think about your legacy. This is a critical part of redefining success because context matters. Success in the first half of our life is often about building. When we are young and ambitious, we build a career, build our reputation and credibility, expand relationships and a network, learn a craft, start a family, accumulate wealth, etc.
In the second half of our life, we can still be building, but for whom? And for what? This is the context shift that can help you feel deeply committed to a redefined vision for success.
Here are some examples:
I want to leave a legacy of experiences with my children and grandchildren. I will establish a tradition of annual family vacations in unique places. I will live in a fun, inviting location where we can all be together for the holidays.
I want to travel to the world's sacred sites, with or without others.
I want to continue to generate passive and active income by serving my mission to help others evolve in their mission.
4. If I redefine success as my LEGACY, what does this require of me?
Don't get all caught up in SMART goals right now.
Don’t stress. Do not limit yourself to concerns about what other people think, or worry about money. It is common for many of us to anchor our worth directly correlated with our paycheck or the amount of cash we have in the bank.
Stay in a flow of brainstorming and allow your heart to guide you.
My legacy requires that I...
Actively establish realistic annual traditions more intentionally with my kids.
Create boundaries about what kinds of work I will do daily to ensure I am serving my mission and not wasting time serving empty agendas. This means saying NO more.
Shift my business to serve individuals, leaders, teams, and businesses.
Travel to the sacred sites before I am too old to access the remote places and require resources, planning, and physical prep/endurance.
5. What can you do immediately to SHIFT into the new without negatively disrupting your current life and work?
Redefining success takes time, effort, and dedication. It’s okay to move slowly at first so that you can move faster once you are fully committed to a new path and plan.
Consider three small shifts you could make in the next 60 days that would help move you forward while feeling more happy, satisfied, and fulfilled. You could start, stop or continue doing something as long as it enables you to move closer to more time with people, places, and things you LOVE, which activates your values in your daily life.
This is you permitting yourself to move in the direction of your heart and toward the future you want. That sounds warm and fuzzy, but in reality, your ego needs you to take tangible, demonstrated action so that it (you!) can build confidence in the new. That is how we work. You have to prove to your ego that it will be okay, and in the next phase, it can feel successful in the same or better ways than in the old.
When it comes to success, there is no one-size-fits-all definition or redefinition, and the life of your dreams has to be birthed by you, allowing it to come into reality and out of your fantasies. You got this.
BTW, I live in real life, too, so I know I’m pushing you to do things that might feel hard or even impossible from where you sit today. In my next blog, I’ll address the reality of soul-sucking situations (yep, I said it!) that you do not LOVE but feel committed to or stuck in. We can easily stay in a job, relationship, or old commitments out of obligation even though we know they are holding us back from the future we desire.
Think about your future