If You’re Serious…
It’s that time of year when we all start thinking about the directions of our lives. Are you ready to actually start doing your thing and come alive this new year? If you’re serious about making it happen, follow the five steps below and become to person you’re meant to be!
1. Make A Choice
If you’re going to do your thing this new year, the first thing you have to do is exercise personal initiative and choose to pursue it. You won’t accidentally “end up” at a place in life where you just “happen” to be doing your thing. That’s not how life works. You have to be intentional in your journey.
Do your daily actions advance you towards your thing? Get this: The answer to that question doesn’t matter until you choose to pursue your thing. Without the choice, all you do is daydream. Making the choice to pursue your thing moves you into action, empowers you to judge your daily actions, and demands that you adjust your life routines as necessary to pursue your thing.
2. Find Your Catalyst
You have your routines in life, and they’re stubborn as hell. Their bullheadedness is either fantastic or frustrating, depending on how well you’ve already incorporated your thing into your routine. If your routine includes a healthy dose of your thing, you’re living the high life. But if you struggle to make time for your thing on a regular basis, your routine is killing you. It’s time for a change. But here’s the big question: How? How will you shake up your stubborn routine? Why will you wake up one morning, throw off yesterday’s practices and do something different? What will be different about that day?
Your routine will change only when you find a good catalyst – “a person or thing that precipitates an event or change” (thanks Dictionary.com). The choice you make in point #1 above will start you in the right direction, but you need something to force the issue. A good catalyst blows up your daily routine and provides you with the opportunity to intentionally create a new one which incorporates your thing.
Becoming a father in 2013 was the catalyst that shook up my routine. Before then, I knew that “someday” I wanted to inspire people to do their thing and advance ideas which empower them to do exactly that, but my daily routine didn’t make any time for it. Everything changed with the birth of my first son. I realized that my time on this earth is finite. If I wanted to do my thing in life, I needed to embrace the idea that “someday” is today. I scrapped my old routine, and – with the help of books like Start – I intentionally pieced together a new one. I didn’t instantly launch LTP, but I started travelling (see point #5 below). LTP is the eventual result of my catalyst.If you want to do your thing in life, you need to embrace the idea that 'someday' is today. Click To Tweet
What will serve as your catalyst? I encourage you to find one – or create one – ASAP. They can be intimidating, but that’s the point. Only major moments in life have the power to shake your routines to their core. Examples of good catalysts include:
- Graduating from or going back to school
- Quitting a job or landing a new one
- Ending an unhealthy relationship
- Starting a new, healthy relationship
- Moving to a new location
- Getting out of debt
- Health scares*
- Buying a house*
- Getting married*
- Becoming a parent*
*I’m not saying that you should do any of these things just for sake of finding a catalyst, but I am saying that you should intentionally leverage these moments in life if you’re experiencing them anyway.
3. Embrace Boundaries
You are a unique person with unique gifts and perspectives. I believe you have a moral responsibility to yourself and the rest of us to live out your calling. I love the way author Steven Pressfield puts it: “If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself; you hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet. Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.”
Unfortunately, not everybody is supportive of you being you. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When you do your thing, you stand out from the crowd. Your choices will differ from those who lack the courage to live out their purpose. You’ll alienate some people’s expectations of you. Some people might even come to resent you. Conflict is unavoidable, but you must find a way to push through it – because as Ralph Waldo Emerson explained, “to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” But how do you accomplish such a great feat?To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment. -RWE Click To Tweet
If you’re going to “give us what you’ve got,” you need to embrace boundaries in life. I implore you to grab a copy of Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I read this book a few years ago, and it literally changed my life. It’s easily the third most influential book I’ve ever read (behind only the Bible and The Total Money Makeover). By helping me to understand where I begin, where I end, what I am responsible for, and what I am not responsible for, Boundaries empowered me with mental permission to do my thing – not out of selfishness, but rather out of a sense of responsibility for and ownership of my own life. As described in the book,
Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.
Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. However, if I do not “own” my life, my choices and options become very limited. (page 31)
Don’t skip this step. If you’re serious about doing your thing in the new year, read Boundaries and embrace the principles described therein.
(FYI, Boundaries is a Christian book. I’m a Christian, so the book’s biblical foundation only enhanced my reading experience. That said, a very good atheist friend of mine read the book and also got a huge amount out of it, so you don’t have to be a Christian to benefit from Boundaries.)
4. Focus on One Thing at a Time
My wife and I followed Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover plan over the course of five years to get our personal finances in order. There was a lot to be done: We needed to build an emergency fund, eliminate debt, save for retirement and kids’ college, give, and have some fun – so it would have been easy for our money to be pulled in a thousand directions at once. But Dave’s book taught us the importance of focusing on one thing at a time. When you do that, you see real improvements being made and gain a sense of traction. Traction helps you stick with your plan, and – over time – allows you to accomplish your goals. Today, my wife and I are completely debt free (house and everything!) and love our newfound financial freedom. We are living proof that concentrated focus works.
When you try to do everything at once, nothing ever actually gets done. Don’t try to go back to school, land a job you love, launch a business, get in the best shape of your life, and find your soulmate all at the same time. You can choose to do any one of those things and succeed, but if you try to do all five at once, you won’t accomplish any of them. Focus on one thing, nail it, and then move on to the next thing. Don’t stress out about what life will look like a month from now. Instead, think about what you want your life to look like five years from now. Focus on – and actually achieve! – one thing at a time. Your life will be rocking before you know it!
5. Start Travelling
It’s easy to get caught up in the trap of thinking you need to have a perfect plan in place before you start travelling. We’ve all been there at one point or another. Yes, you should be thinking about what you want life to look like five years from now, but that doesn’t mean that you need a perfect plan from the outset before starting your journey. Life isn’t mappable like that. Ultimately what’s most important is that you just start travelling towards your thing!
Your life journey is like a car you’re driving on a road trip. When you leave home, you should have a general idea of where you want to go, but you’ll need to rely on road signs along the way to keep you on course. As you travel, you’ll see signs in the distance. They’ll be fuzzy at first because they’re far away, but don’t stop the car. If you slam on the brakes, you’ll never be able to read the signs clearly. Instead, keep travelling towards those signs until you can read them. At that point, consider the information, slow down if you need to for a bit, contemplate your desired destination, and steer your car accordingly. Repeat this process until you arrive at your desired destination. Simple enough, right? It works for road trips and life journeys alike.
I launched LTP in July of 2015 because I wanted to advance ideas about personal initiative, economics, and civics in American culture. After three months of rolling down the LTP highway, I was able to read new signs which were previously out of sight. I adjusted course accordingly. But recognize that I was only able to read those new signs because I started travelling despite my lack of a perfect plan.
My point is this: Embrace life for the adventure that it is and just start travelling towards your thing!
We’re In This Together
Good news. You’re not journeying alone. The rest of us are here to support you as you become the person you’re meant to be in this new year. If you want to network with people who share your passion for living life, sign up for LTP’s mailing list using the form below! We’ll keep you up to date with happenings at LTP, but we won’t flood your inbox. I promise.
Are you ready to do your thing in the new year? Why will this new year be different from others? What will serve as your catalyst? What other steps do you suggest your fellow readers take if they want to do their thing in life?