“If you keep living like the way you are now, you will continue to produce the same life you already have.” -Jim Rohn
Most people are not living the life they want right now.
Instead, most people are living the life that is expected of them, the one they think they should live. Their primary motivations are to keep up or look cool. In most cases, their own dreams are forfeited in the process.
As a result, their health is constantly drained — all this pretending is exhausting. Most people end up overindulging on media and substances to try and make up the difference. Their relationships suffer. Their vision is foggy and unfocused. Their emotional health is dangerously imbalanced.
Even those who look like they have it all together are often just faking it. As Seth Godin once wrote:
“The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.”
Envy isn’t a positive trait. “Time you spent being jealous of others’ success is time they spent working,” entrepreneur Jon Westenberg once wrote.
But you can design a life that turn heads and makes people wish they had what you do. Because although everyone’s definition of success is different, there are five common denominators. They are:
- Strong, meaningful relationships with friends and family
2. Life-giving work that make a difference
3. High self-confidence and pride in oneself
4. Financial independence
5. A lasting legacy
You can achieve enormous results with few simple tweaks, too. Author Tim Ferriss conducted a series of “experiments” to see how fast he could master a complicated skill — learning a foreign language, playing a new instrument, winning at high-stakes poker, etc.
With a few simple tweaks, he was able to rapidly learn these new skills in just a few months. “To produce extraordinary results,” he says, “you don’t need an unlimited budget; you just need a better tool kit.” Intense short-term focus can create extraordinary results.
Here’s how you can design your ideal lifestyle that 99% of other people just can’t help but wish they had.
Upgrade Your Relationships 10x By Just SAYING It
“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.” -Harriet Beecher Stowe
When my wife and I were in premarital counseling, our counselor gave us a piece of advice that would end up changing our lives:
Always make the first move.
The meaning is simple: if you can help the relationship, then do it. Don’t wait for the other person to act (even if you don’t want to).
Most people have strained and superficial relationships with family and even with friends. This is because most people always wait for the other person to “make the first move;” say hello, organize a hangout, or apologize.
This is a pride thing. It’s one of the main killers of marriages, friendships, and even families.
If you want to have deep, meaningful relationships with your friends, family, and even just the people in your day-to-day life, make the first move — even if it should be them. Be the first to:
- Initiate the conversation
- Send the first text
- Say you miss them
- Say you love them
- Apologize and ask for forgiveness
- Organize a hangout
- Compliment them
- Thank them
- Tell them you appreciate what they did
For a long time, I felt awkward and uncomfortable telling my brothers and sister “I love you.” Three of the people whom I loved most in the entire world, and I couldn’t say it!
Now, I tell them I love them all the time. I say it over text, over casual phone calls, at crises, celebrations, and over the holidays. I tell my friends, too. Every single important person in my life — mentors, family, friends, even coworkers, know how special they are to me.
It feels silly to be afraid to say this to a loved one. Yet, so many people can’t say a few simple words that would galvanize the entire relationship and deeply touch their soul.
Once you can do this, you can begin enjoying a gem most people never will: close, loving, life-giving relationships with many people.
How to Make Your Work Matter
“The goal of life is not to relax on the beach, sipping mojitos all day. The purpose is to find something you love that adds value to the world.” -Benjamin Foley
I’m not here to tell you you need to love every minute of your job for your life to be “successful.” In his book The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster, author Darren Hardy proposed he doesn’t like his job up to 95% of the time!
I think that’s a bit high, frankly. But it demonstrates that even highly successful individuals often don’t enjoy their work. I certainly don’t.
But it’s no secret most people are not experiencing the joy and fulfillment one gets from doing what they were born to do.
You don’t have to quit your job. You don’t have to flip your life inside-out so you can finally “write” or make that online company or become a chef.
But if you want to experience deep fulfillment in your work, you need to make time to practice your gifts and talents. The best way to do this is by reinvesting your free time.
In the words of entrepreneur Nicolas Cole:
“Successful people don’t see it as ‘free time.’ They see it as the only time they have to do the things they really want to do in life — and they don’t take a minute for granted.”
When my wife and I moved to South Korea to teach English, I was offered a dozen high-paying, interesting gigs outside of school: private english tutoring, youth basketball coach, drummer for a local church, podcast host, etc.
But I said no to all of them. I wanted to protect my free time so I could spend it creating a sustainable online business where I create content that changes people’s lives.
Here I am today, and I’ve done just that. I’ve created enough income streams — affiliate links, online courses, paid articles, etc. — that I can now survive on this work alone.
This isn’t exactly how your story will play out. Maybe you’ll need your job for a long time for financial security.
But in the meantime, you can choose to spend your free time differently. Invest in yourself. Create an outlet for your ideas and passion.
Every part of your life — your relationships, health, income, focus, even relaxation — will benefit.
Want to experience fulfillment with work? Choose to spend your time better.
“People who make moves, and who make a difference, invest in themselves.” -Nicolas Cole
This is How To Be Incredibly Proud of Who You Are
I’m not proud of who I am when I:
- When I make money my primary goal
- When I binge on social media and resent others’ success
- When I give in to my base desires — lust, fear, anger, selfishness, laziness
- When I chase titles and fame instead of a genuine impact
Most people can’t say they are incredibly proud of who they are.
Much of this is leftovers from unresolved baggage stemming from our youth. “Unresolved baggage from our childhood can have severe impacts on our adulthood,” wrote David Richo in How to Be an Adult.
Most people never resolve this stuff, and it continues to leech from their potential well into their adult years.
Years ago, I made a choice to get all this crap out in the open. I was heavily addicted to pornography since age 10, hiding porn in the toilet tank, on the roof, even burying it in the dirt lot behind my school. I hated myself for it. I was overflowing with shame, fear, and self-loathing.
My family life was difficult. My soon-to-be-divorced parents tried their best, and I love them for that. But the damage was done, over many years. School was rough; I was bullied constantly for a terrible stutter I had.
All this built up inside me like a steaming mountain of sh*t, disabling my ability to connect with people.
I could’ve have just swept it under the rug. Indeed, I did for about 13 years. But when I realized I wanted to marry my wife Kimi, I knew all my dammed-up emotional garbage would destroy what chance of happiness I had.
So I went to counseling. I started seeing a therapist. He eventually told me to go to a 12-step program for my porn addiction (yikes). Had me write down every single instance I could remember of being “ashamed” (I wrote 18 pages, single-space, front-to-back).
The result? I’m all better now, and my life is perfect.
Kidding. Over the weekend, I had a conversation over Skype with my therapist from a Korean coffee shop where I ended up sobbing in the corner because, whaddya know, I had some more emotional baggage to unpack.
But I’m sober from porn. Miraculously, I am incredibly proud of who I am (most of the time). I’m in constant disbelief how amazing marriage is with Kimi. I can connect deeply with people, and use my story to help them.
The point is this: you, me, and everyone else has emotional garbage that is holding us back. If left unresolved, we can never experience a full sense of pride and self-love.
Most people never deal with this stuff. This garbage always comes out, though; it ruins relationships and sabotages opportunities until you are broken. It’s your responsibility to resolve this. That’s what being an adult means — resolving the garbage people have done to you.
Otherwise, you’ll rarely feel proud of yourself. This emotional baggage won’t go away; you have to clean it out. Time does not heal all wounds, as a matter of fact; it buries them, sure. But healing rarely happens without effort on your part.
Successful self-care leads to healthy, growing pride in oneself.
“Your level of success will rarely exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.” -Hal Elrod
How to Achieve 100% Financial Independence
“If you allow the economy to determine your choice, you will never be in charge of your own economy.” -Grant Cardone
Tony Robbins put it bluntly:
“Let’s face it, we’re not about to earn our way to wealth. That’s a mistake millions of Americans make. We think that if we work harder, smarter, longer, we’ll achieve our financial dreams, but our paycheck alone — no matter how big — isn’t the answer.”
Entrepreneur Jon Westenberg put it this way: “You won’t make the kind of money that can set you up for life and let you design your own lifestyle of your sole source of income is the salary paid to you by your boss.”
As long as you’re relying entirely on your J-O-B for financial security, you’ll never achieve financial independence.
This is something I’m still learning. I’m not 100% financially independent and secure yet.
But I’m getting there. In the past few months, I’ve had bigger success with passive income and multiple income streams than I ever have. I’m making money from affiliate links, my online course, paid articles, coaching, and several other ways.
My old corporate job was paying me thousands of dollars a month, but I wasn’t secure. I was relying entirely on them for my security. Today, companies can fire you or lay you off at the drop of a hat. There’s no such thing as “job security” anymore.
I live a life that is radically different that most people my age, too. One of the best pieces of financial advice I ever heard was in an online class by financial guru Dave Ramsey’s:
“Live like no one else now, so later you can live like no one else.”
Most people are wasting their money on things they don’t need. They’re wasting it showing off, buying gadgets, and racing each other to see who can buy the biggest home/car/yard the fastest.
“It’s absurd that we would prioritize the hottest new device, the cool car, or trendy toy over owning that which makes us feel the most engaged and most alive” wrote Neil Patel in his book, Hustle. Yet this is exactly what most people do.
I don’t buy things. My wife jokes she has to force me to buy a new pair of socks. But it took us 4 years of intense saving to become 100% debt-free, and old habits die hard. I live like this now, so later I can have and extraordinary life everyone else isn’t able to have.
Look, if you want 100% financial independence, you can’t rely on your boss or job to provide that. You need to start creating income. Probably from several areas.
There are dozens of resources on how to do this; an easy start is Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income blog. Pat’s awesome.
(Bonus: Yahoo! Finance featured my compilation of the top 7 lessons I learned from the top 7 finance books)
Cement Your Legacy and Rest Easy
“You can accomplish tremendous things in your remaining years if you will design them before you live them.” -Jim Rohn
I’ll be frank: I don’t know much about legacy yet.
I’m in my late twenties. I still have a lot of work to do. I feel a bit how Edmond Dantès might’ve felt in The Count of Monte Cristo when his older cellmate remarked, “Your life, my young friend, has not been of sufficient length to admit of your having passed through any very important events.”
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that anyone can begin deliberately working on their legacy, at any time.
In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, an alien sums up the entire history of mankind in a single tongue-in-cheek phrase:
Most people aren’t working on leaving their legacy right now. They are living small, mostly-harmless little lives, on a trajectory to leave this world with little or no impact — maybe even a bad impact.
But you can choose to focus on how people will remember you. What accomplishments did you have? What goals did you achieve? How did you positively impact people’s lives?
A lot of people mistakenly think they don’t have anything to give. But as founder of CD Baby Derek Sivers once said, “What is obvious to you is amazing to others.”
You have learned many important lessons that many people don’t know yet. You can help them. Warn them. Teach them how to avoid the mistakes you made.
One of the best examples of “legacy” I’ve seen was this.
Years ago, I was completely broke and depressed. I was unable to pay my rent, and I was hopeless; I was preparing to move back home to my parents.
But the men in my Bible study surprised me by pulling together money to pay for rent that month. One guy filled up my car with a full tank of gas that night.
I just teared up writing that. I’ll never forget what they did for me. The only asked me to do one thing: pay it forward.
I’m on the lookout. I’ve been watching for that opportunity ever since. How can I pay it forward? When I tell someone to keep the miracle going to the next person?
That’s a legacy.
“If you want to live an exceptional and extraordinary life, you have to give up many of the things that are part of a normal one.” -Srinivas Rao
Creating a life so ideal that others will envy it takes time. It takes a conscious choice to live a radically different life than most people are unwilling to live.
Author Darren Hardy once wrote, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.” If you want to live a life nobody has, you must do what nobody does.
If you want that life, you probably need to start doing things you’ve never done before.
Tell people you love them. Reinvest your free time. Resolve the baggage that’s been holding you back for years. Learn how to master finances. And choose to leave a legacy.
This is the life most people desperately want, and will envy if they see it.