“May you live every day of your life.”
A few years ago one of our close friends unexpectedly passed away at age 27. Angel and I spent several weeks mourning, reflecting, and re-evaluating our purpose and path forward. The aftermath of this tragedy reframed our thinking on many levels, and completely overhauled how we approach our lives, our dreams, and our relationships.
We suddenly realized how the fragility of life makes every moment so meaningful, and that most of us waste far too many moments immersing ourselves in needless distractions that steal our attention away from the things that actually matter.
If you feel like you’re on the wrong track with what matters most to you, here are nine warning signs to look for, and tips to get you back on track:
1. All the decisions you’ve made someone else made for you.
There are people who live their entire lives on the default settings, never realizing they can customize everything. Don’t be one of them.
You have to live your own life your own way. That’s all there is to it. Each of us has a unique fire in our heart for something that makes us feel alive. It’s your duty to find it and keep it lit. You’ve got to stop caring so much about what everyone else wants for you, and start actually living for yourself.
Find your love, your talents, your passions and embrace them. Don’t hide behind other people’s decisions. Don’t let others tell you what you want. Design and experience YOUR life! The life you create from doing something that moves you is far better than the life you get from sitting around wishing you were doing it. (Angel and I discuss this in more detail in the “Passion and Growth” chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. You’re only doing what you’re doing because it’s safe.
Never let your fear decide your future. To play it too safe is one of the riskiest choices you can make. You cannot grow unless you are willing to change and adapt. You will never improve yourself if you cling to what used to be simply because it’s familiar and comfortable.
Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be. The bold steps you take into the unknown won’t be easy, but every step is worth it. There’s no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream, but this chase is what gives meaning to life. And even if you have to fail several times before you succeed, your worst attempt will always be 100% better than the person who settles and never tries at all.
3. You have chosen the easiest possible path.
Nothing in life is easy. Don’t expect things to be given to you. Go out and achieve them. Good things come to those who work for them. Some have natural talent, while others make up for it with tremendous heart and determination, and it’s almost always the latter group that succeeds in the long run.
There is too much emphasis on finding a ‘quick fix’ in today’s society. For example taking diet pills to lose weight instead of exercising and eating well. No amount of magic fairy dust replaces diligent, focused, hard work.
Working and training for something is the opposite of hoping for it. If you believe in it with all your heart, then work for it with all your might. Great achievements must be earned. There is no elevator to success; you must take the stairs. So forget how you feel and remember what you deserve. NOW is always the best time to break out of your shell and show the world who you really are and what you’re really made of. Start right where you are, use what you have, do what you can, and give it your best shot.
4. Obstacles are all you see.
The big difference between an obstacle and an opportunity is how you look at it. Look at the positives and don’t dwell on the negatives. If you keep your head down, you’ll miss life’s goodness.
There’s no shortage of problems waiting to be addressed. When you see problems piled on top of problems, and when there seems to be no end to the work that must be done in order to resolve them, what are you really seeing? You’re looking at a mountain of opportunity. You’re looking at a situation in which you can truly make a difference. You’re looking at an environment where you can reach great heights by raising the stakes and pulling the reality of what’s possible along with you.
When you look at an obstacle, but see opportunity instead, you become a powerful source that transforms grief into greatness. (Read Flourish.)
5. You are working hard, but making zero progress.
To achieve success and sustain happiness in life, you must focus your attention on the right things, in the right ways. Every growing human being (that means all of us) has resource constraints: limited time and energy. It is critical that you spend your resources effectively. You have to stay laser-focused on doing the RIGHT work, instead of doing a bunch of inconsequential work, right.
Not all work is created equal. Don’t get caught up in odd jobs, even those that seem urgent, unless they are also important. Don’t confuse being busy with being productive.
6. You have a started a dozen projects and completed none of them.
We are judged by what we finish, not what we start. Period.
Think about it, you rarely fail for the things you do. You fail for the things you don’t do, the business you leave unfinished, and the things you make excuses about for the rest of your life.
In all walks of life, passion is what starts it and dedication is what finishes it.
7. You are too busy to connect with others in a meaningful way.
Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life for yourself. Never get so busy that you don’t have time to be kind and connect with others. The happiest lives are connected to quality relationships. If you are too busy to share an occasional laugh with someone, you are too busy.
Truth be told, sometimes we’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are and who we’re with. So lift your head up today and appreciate those standing beside you. The people you take for granted today may turn out to be the only ones you need tomorrow.
Oh, and if you’re currently on the fast track to success, be sure to be nice to people on your way up, because you might meet them again on your way back down. Remember life is a circle. Everything comes back around.
8. The people you make time for don’t make time for you.
Wrong things happen when you trust and worry about the wrong people. Don’t make too much time for people who rarely make time for you, or who only make time for you when it’s convenient for them. Know your worth. Know the difference between what you’re getting from people and what you deserve.
Surround yourself with those who will support you when it rains, not just when it shines. And above all, remember that people come and people go. That’s life. You have to stop holding on to those who have let go of you long ago. (Read Emotional Blackmail.)
9. You are playing a role in life’s drama circle.
Needless drama doesn’t just walk into your life out of nowhere; you either create it, invite it or associate with those who bring it. Do not let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama or negativity stop you from being the best person you can be.
Be an example of a pure existence. Don’t spew hostile words at someone who spews them at you. Ignore their foolish antics and focus on kindness. Communicate and express yourself from a place of peace, from a place of love, with the best intentions. Use your voice for good – to inspire, to encourage, to educate, and to spread the notions of compassion and understanding.
If someone insists on foisting their hostility and drama on you, simply ignore them and walk away. Sometimes people will talk about you when they envy the life you lead. Let them be. You affected their life; don’t let them affect yours. Those who create their own drama deserve their own karma. Don’t get sidetracked by people who are not on track.
If you are reading this, smile. Although nothing in life is ever guaranteed, you can always choose to make the present a positive, productive experience.
What you do with this moment is what’s most important, because the present is the steering wheel of your life. The only difference between where you are and where you want to be, at any point in time, is what you are presently doing. Your present actions can instantly steer you onto the right track. From this moment forward everything changes if you want it to. You simply have to decide what to do right now.
In what way have you traveled down the wrong track in life? What have you learned and what changes have you made? Leave us a comment below and share your thoughts.
Photo by: Dustin McClure