After years of early mornings, lots of late nights, your fair share of failures and plenty of disappointments, all of your hard work is finally paying off. You have hit the big time! Your ship has finally come in. That product you have developed, that service you have perfected, or that performance you’ve mastered has finally received the notoriety it deserves and you've been ushered into a whole new income bracket. You are now making the kind of money you’ve only ever dreamed.
For the first time in your life you are finally in a position to build the house of your dreams. I’m talking about every room and every convenience you’ve coveted on Pinterest or drooled over in Architectural Digest. With your newfound success, your dream house is just months from becoming a reality.
Now, you wouldn’t even think of trying to build your dream house without a set of blueprints, would you? That would be ridiculous! There isn’t a builder in his right mind that would take on the project of building your dream house without a comprehensive set of architectural drawings from which to work. Both of you know it would be impossible to turn your dream into bricks and mortar without a plan to follow.
And yet…and yet…that is exactly how many people go about living their one and only life.
We have high-definition dreams of the life we’d like to live but no blueprint to get there. You can think of things you’d like to do, to experience, to accomplish, or to contribute before you die. You have passions that percolate just below the surface; longing to find an opportunity to find expression. You have a message you’d like to share with others or a contribution you’d like to make to your world, even if it’s just a little corner of it. Whether we are talking your Bucket List or noble ambitions to leave your world a better place, without a plan to follow it’s just not going to happen quite like you’ve dreamed!
I believe everybody has a dream. Unfortunately, very few people give themselves the permission to possess that dream, to define it clearly, to build a plan to pursue it, or leverage their time and energy toward it as a priority.
Sadly, for most people, their dream lies dormant under a pile of expectations and obligations that others demand of them at the expense of their own happiness. Years and years of worthy pursuits like Marriage, Parenting, Career pass by while their dream sits longingly waiting for them to give it a chance.
Your parents told you your dream could never make a living. Your preacher told you your dream was selfish. Your friends told you it was impossible. Society told you it wouldn’t work. You told you that you didn’t have enough education, experience, talent, time, money, space, credentials, connections, or courage to do it successfully.
So you stopped dreaming your dream.
And yet, there it lies in the background of your life hoping for you to give it another try; the angst of noble ambitions stirring in your soul.
Unfortunately, most people have no clearly defined plan for building the life they’ve always imagined. I mean, other than perhaps, the script handed to them by parents or the template defined by their friends and neighbors. Sadly, the only plan most people have for their life is the one that’s helping their boss’ dream come true.
Without a blueprint, the likelihood of building the kind of life you’ve always dreamed is very unlikely. It doesn’t matter how much you want or wish for the life of your dreams. Without a plan, it just isn’t going to happen.
What a lousy way to live.
I don’t want to live like that!
I believe there is a better way.
Now, before there is any misunderstanding, let me clarify what I mean by “the life of your dreams.” I am not talking about a life of unlimited narcissistic pleasure and materialistic prosperity. (I hate to break it to you, but that’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask a long line of Hollywood celebrities and corporate millionaires.)
I am talking about something more noble; something more satisfying. What we really long for is a life of peace, contentment, joy, purpose, meaning, love and significance, and the fulfillment that comes with it.
If we know that money can’t buy happiness, why do we keep falling for the same ruse?
So Dang Predictable
As a Life Coach, I am intrigued with understanding all I can about the way life works. This is essential to my work of helping clients develop a strategy for living their life with greater purpose and passion.
After thirty years of research and observation, I have concluded human beings can be incredibly predictable in their behavior. That is actually good news for anybody who wishes to be happy in life. Here’s why. If our life is so dang predictable, it is possible to crack the code of our individual behaviors and then leverage them to work in our favor.
In other words, we can break bad habits that rob us of happiness and replace them with healthy habits that reward us with it.
It would be possible to create a life for ourselves that is both healthy and happy; satisfying and fulfilling. With the right thoughts, proper choices and correct habits we could build a life that looks like the one we’ve always dreamed. With the right blueprints, we could build the “life of our dreams.”
In general, all of us do same things in our lives. The faces and names are different. A few of the details are unique to each and every individual. However, in the end, all of us spend our lives thinking similar thoughts, feeling similar emotions, harboring similar attitudes, pursuing similar priorities, making similar mistakes, battling similar insecurities, managing similar dysfunctions, experiencing similar heartaches, and enjoying similar successes.
The predictability of human behavior is why there are so many books are written in the “self-help” genre. The entire self-improvement industry of books and products (i.e. diet, exercise, relationship, and money) is built around the fact that people generally think and do the same things over and over again. Bestsellers in the personal development niche become the rage of the reading public because so many people share similar challenges.
The predictability of human behavior is the playground of advertisers. Companies spend billions of dollars figuring out the common traits and triggers of how human beings think, choose and act. From selling luxury automobiles to laundry detergent, Madison Avenue makes a fortune figuring out the predictable behaviors of their target demographic. With focus groups and test markets, they can develop billion dollar products by creating sales pitches that appeal to the most common behaviors of the greatest number of people. And boy, are they good at it. They definitely have us figured out.
The fact that stereotypes are so prevalent in our social vernacular is another proof of the predictability of human behavior. For example, just choose an experience of life and immediately familiar words and images come to mind about this particular chapter of our experience.
- First-time parents.
- Middle aged males.
- Retired seniors.
- Used car salesmen.
- Soccer Moms.
A stereotype is an overgeneralization drawn about people based on common attitudes and behaviors. Reoccurring behavior becomes “stereotypical.” Stereotypes exist because certain behaviors are true of these groups and have become generalized by their frequent occurrence. The reason we can talk in familiar terms about these common seasons of life is because people share so many similar experiences in them.
If our behavior is that predictable, it is possible to figure out the patterns to the way we live our life and, if necessary, change them.
- Why not create new patterns of behavior and leverage them for more noble purposes and greater fulfillment?
- Why not shape the activities of our life to accomplish our dreams and desires?
- Why not spend the time of our life having the time of our life?
Your Life in Two Words
At the risk of sounding like some Eastern mystic, the pursuit of life essentially boils down to just two things: Energy and Time. Everything you do in a day, a week and a month exacts an expenditure of energy from you. Mental energy, emotional energy, physical energy, and relational energy are the most common. In turn, every outlay of energy is distributed over the seconds, minutes and hours of your life. There is not a single activity (Energy) of your life that happens without the passing of seconds (Time).
All those activities add up to become the days, weeks, months and years of your life. Together they tell the story of your life.
Here’s what I’ve discovered. If you look at your story close enough and long enough, you will find patterns. Your story is a reflection of patterns in your thinking, patterns in your choices, and patterns in your behavior. Curiously, as unique as you believe you are, your patterns will not look all that different from most of your peers. You get up in the morning. Shower and shave. Grab some breakfast. Head off to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Take your kids to their things. Bring them home and get them off to bed. And then you finish some reports, watch some television, do some reading, or surf the internet before falling into bed exhausted. And you’ll do it all over again…for the next fifty years of your one and only life.
Now imagine what you could make of your life if you harnessed your energy and time in a passionate and purposeful pursuit of what you most want out of life. Imagine if you had a plan – a set of blueprints – for living your life on purpose rather than autopilot.
The Life Diet
We all know what a diet is. A diet is simply an eating strategy. It is plan to follow for losing weight. It is the discipline of eating some foods and avoiding others toward the goal of shedding fat. Couple that with an exercise plan – also a strategy – and you can literally shape both how you feel and how you look.
As long as you diligently stick to the plan, right?
Why couldn’t the same principles of an effective strategy work for our life? With the right strategy – a blueprint to follow – it is possible to “go on a diet” that would result in greater amounts of happiness while building the life of our dreams.
Think about it.
If you step back and take a look at the journey of life, it is all pretty simple. Everything that occurs between our birth and our death is what we call “our life.” If you have a good set of blueprints for your life and follow them carefully, you could build a beautiful life.
As much as we’d like to do everything our little heart desires, we just don’t have the time or the energy to do it all. So what if we chose a few of the most important things we’d love to do while we have the time and energy? What if we turned that list into a plan; a singular strategy for how to prioritize our time and our talents? If we would choose to focus on a well-thought out plan built around our life’s greatest ambitions, we could – with a lot of determination, discipline and diligence – accomplish a lot in our lifetime. A life well lived begins with a focus on a well-defined plan.
I assure you, without your own set of blueprints, you’ll just end up building your life according to somebody else’s design.
As anybody who has every tried to “lose a little weight” has discovered, there is both healthy food and unhealthy food in the diet equation. Healthy and unhealthy is not just about food. There are also healthy and unhealthy habits created by healthy and unhealthy thoughts, choices, goals, beliefs, values, and priorities that influence every pursuit of our life. It is possible to “lose the unwanted weight” of unhappiness that burdens our spirit and robs us of the satisfaction that comes with living a truly fulfilling life.
- Imagine living with purpose, passion and peace.
- Imagine living in harmony with the people in your life.
- Imagine feeling and looking great physically.
- Imagine loving what you do for a living each day.
That’s not intended to sound like some late-night infomercial. (“And if you act right now, we’ll send you this fifteen piece Ginsu knife set completely free. Operators are standing by. This offer is not available in stores. Call now.”) It really is possible to live our lives with greater intentionality for more noble purposes.
A strategy is simply a plan for achieving a particular result. So why not a strategy for your life?
I have created a coaching curriculum I call “The Life Diet.” While you will lose weight using principles from The Life Diet, it is more about living a healthier, more fulfilling life. I’d be happy to share it with you through a guided experience if you are interested. Visit my Life Coaching website at www.paulwilsonTX.com to learn more.