What do you want?
This is a question most people have a hard time answering because we have been spoon-fed our decisions and desires since childhood. We were repeatedly told things like “Don’t argue with your mother, father, teacher, etc.”, “Only good little children get to have dessert,” “Because I say so,” or “You have to work hard to get ahead” I could go on and on, and you probably have your own unique playlist.
Unfortunately, many people get stuck in the habit of never thinking for themselves and thus never reach their full potential. They end up just going through the motions and living life without personal influence or fulfillment because they feel lost, alone, stressed, and overwhelmed. It’s not their fault. They are stuck in the Doom Loop, the vicious cycle of wanting more, but not knowing how to get it, and then rather than seek help just do what they have always been doing, hoping it may, by some miracle, deliver a different result. They keep waiting for something external to change so they can finally be free and feel happy on the inside.
Many people call this the roller coaster of life, but in reality, it’s more like a Merry-go-round, we are just going around and around with no end in sight.
How do I know? That was me for many years. On the surface, everything looked like the perfect upper-middle-class life; a successful career, a beautiful family, a nice home, friends, and every comfort I could want, however, I knew I wanted more out of life and that I had far more potential than I was fulfilling. I believed that if I kept working hard, someday it would all change. But I was so trapped in my old ways and didn’t realize that I had the power to change it all – I didn’t know that true personal growth and transformation happen from the inside out.
Buddha is credited with the quote “When the student is ready, the teacher appears” and that’s certainly what happened to me.
At just the right time in my life, I was gifted a book by Brendon Burchard “The Motivation Manifesto” 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power. This book opened my eyes to the personal responsibility that I have in changing my life and letting go of the illusion that a Knight in Shining armor would swoop in and save me. It was the catalyst I needed to seek new pathways forward and upward. I now understand that I was stuck in my Doom Loop or as Einstein puts it “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
With this newfound insight, I began exploring what else I didn’t know about personal leadership and the ability to influence my trajectory in life. It eventually steered me to the works of Earl Nightingale, the father of personal development. Mr. Nightingale’s main message is “You become what you think about.” For years I had been thinking about what was wrong with my life rather than what was right and didn’t appreciate the opportunities available to me or as the cornerstone of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy philosophy points out – my unproductive, or unhelpful, thought patterns caused unproductive behavior and undesired negative emotions. Every time I was faced with a fork in the road or my bridge point to the next level, I chose the U-turn and stayed stuck in the doom loop. I was creating my own misery.
So what’s the point and how is it relevant to you?
All of us come into this world as a blank canvas and as we grow and mature the canvas gets completed with the images and events we encounter along the way. Unfortunately, many people feel trapped in the picture and feel it’s a masterpiece that needs to be preserved for eternity. We don’t realize that it’s actually just the first frame in an unending movie, where we are the playwright, producer, director, and lead actor. Everything else is just the supporting cast. Don’t get me wrong, this is not about bulldozing everybody and anybody you encounter along the way, but rather a strategic effort to only let the events and relationships, that support your narrative, play a significant part in your movie.
How do you get started?
Here are five easy steps to get you from where you are now and to where you want to grow:
1: Forgive and let go:
Fully and completely accept where you are now! It doesn’t matter where you have been, how long you’ve been stuck there, or what missteps you feel you have taken along the way. Let it all go and forgive yourself and everybody that you feel has had a role in your current situation. This is a very important step because you do not want to start your acceleration in life with restraints that will limit your reach.
2: Define your vision:
Matt Keller’s in his talk “Trains, Track, and Future Cities,” defines this stage as laying the tracks leading to our future city. When we are stuck in thoughts of what we really don’t want it’s impossible to have a clear picture of what our deepest desires are. So, allow yourself the time and space to clearly define your future city. It’s important to include all aspects of your life; personal, professional, relational, spiritual, impact, legacy, etc. because you can’t lay the tracks until you know the direction of your future city.
3: Find your teachers.
As they say, “We don’t know, what we don’t know” so it’s vital to find people who do know. Seek out mentors, teachers, coaches, and people who have gone before you and successfully reached the next level.
The right guide will help get you off the Merry-Go-Round and onto the Roller Coaster or rather your S-Curve of Growth (The mathematical term that plots out a growth cycle.) so you stop wasting time and energy stuck in the doom loop. They can help you define your bridge points, the point on your growth journey where you historically revert to your old ways rather than look ahead for the next mountain top. They will help you bridge the gap so you effortlessly jump to the next level of growth without plunging back to your starting point.
4: Focus your thoughts and action on the future
Now you know where you are, you know where you want to go, and you have the tools to get there, it’s time to act.
This is the stage where rapid growth happens but only if you are dedicated to building the habits that will keep your actions in alignment with your future goals. You must learn to consistently show up and do the inner work that strengthens your will and determination.
You need to learn how to think. Yes, you heard me right. As Mr. Nightingale said, “You become what you think about” So you need to see yourself in a new light and a coach can help you examine your old unproductive thoughts, and actions and re-write your script so it creates the reality you desire.
You are in reality becoming a different version of yourself, the person you were always meant to be.
5: Rinse and Repeat
The only certainty in life is change. No two days are the same and you must adjust to the constant change. Believe me, that’s a good thing because now you know exactly what to expect once you hit the next plateau on your growth curve, you have the formula down: Assess, Adjust, and Act. The challenges may look different but how you address them does not. You will continue to soar when you learn how to avoid your doom loop, anticipate the bridge points in your growth trajectory, and confidently leap faster and faster ahead.
Let me leave you with this thought:
The timing is always right!
No matter where you are on your life’s journey, young, old, poor, wealthy, sick, or healthy when you have reached the breaking point and had enough, that’s the time to start – you deserve better.