“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
– Mark Twain
Getting crushed by the daily grind?
You are not alone. A recent Gallup poll showed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs. The scale of dissatisfaction is similar, and sometimes even greater, in every corner of the world.
“If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.”
– Bruce Lee
Dislike, disinterest, and hatred, like limits, spread into all aspects of our lives. But what sort of way is this to spend our precious existence?
It is no surprise that the top regrets of the dying involve such things as doing what we really want to do (rather than what society expects of us), finding our true passions, taking risks, and touching and inspiring other people’s lives.
One way to break out of the rut of an unrealized life is to learn from those who have realized their dream jobs and actualized their heartfelt goals. How did they succeed? By remembering and reminding themselves of these ever important tips.
1. You are responsible for your life
“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself.”
– Jim Rohn
Not your boss, not your co-workers, not your parents, not your friends, not your partner. No one else thinks your thoughts. No one else has your emotions. No one else has your ideas. No one else has your dreams. No one else has lived your life.
If circumstances aren’t ideal, then you are going to have to be the one to make the first change.
Action: Take stock of your situation.
Get a pen and paper and ask yourself the following questions; How do you feel about all aspects of your life? Don’t try to sugar coat anything; face the reality of the pain and write it down.
How do you feel about your working life? Your family life? Your social life?
This exercise will help you get clear on where the problems are, and what you don’t want to continue into the future.
2. You can make a change
“Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.”
– Benjamin Disraeli, former British Prime Minister
If you are waiting for the right time, you may be waiting a long time! Making big changes can be intimidating, so why not start by making the best of the circumstances that you find yourself in? Start wiggling, and you will find that you have far more wiggle room where you are than you realize.
Action: Make a small change.
This could be anything from going to a different place for lunch, to joining that gym you were thinking about. Even the smallest change can remind you of your power to change conditions, as well as make life more enjoyable.
3. Face your fears
“Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with course and rough dress, saying to yourself the while, ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’”
– Seneca, Roman Statesman
Often we live on auto-pilot, unconsciously motivated by our latent background of primal fears like starvation, homelessness and abandonment. Fears that, in truth, are highly unlikely in our age of the world.
We are no longer living in small survivalist groups in the desert, but alongside millions of other people in the midst of industrial levels of production and social safety nets.
Action: Remember, what is the worst thing that could happen?
What are you afraid of? What is the nightmare scenario that you want to avoid? If you took a risk to follow your dreams and failed, what would happen?
Take the time to think about these worst possible outcomes and write them all down. Later, review them and work out what you would do in those hypothetical situations. You will be surprised how the energy of worry turns into the energy of resolution to overcome.
To first conquer fear, we must first define it.
4. Avoid distress, seek eustress
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
– Neale Donald Walsch
Lifestyle designer, angel investor and New York Times bestselling author Timothy Ferriss – of The 4-Hour Work Week fame – advises us to recognize the difference between distress and eustress.
Distress, is the kind of stress which brings us down, disempowers us, and makes us ill. Being abused, unappreciated, overworked; all that kind of stuff. Eustress, on the other hand, is to distress what euphoria is to dysphoria.
Eustress is constructive stress; the kind of stress an athlete encounters during training, a businessperson experiences during continuing education or a musician during performing. It is the stimulus necessary for vibrant growth.
Action: Discover where you are not getting enough eustress.
In what areas of your life are you not challenged? Or not growing through lack of action or experience?
5. Reconnect with your passion
“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
What would you do, if you could get paid to do anything? Our passions are often muted, buried beneath of a lifetime of being told “what we must do” and of telling ourselves “what we must do”.
Those who have their dream job are invariably coming from a different place. What do I like to do? What skills do I want to use? What am I good at?
Action: Write down your dreams.
If you were guaranteed not to fail, what would you do with your life? Don’t worry about practicality, just write down the fantasy. Time, money and circumstances are no object.
6. Set goals
“Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
– Tony Robbins
One of the primary causes of drifting aimlessly is lack of just that; aim!
While refusal to set goals can offer a psychological crutch against failure, it equally provides a barrier against success. Want to visit Timbuktu? Get a ticket to Timbuktu. Want to achieve something? Set it as a goal!
Actions: Create a set of goals.
Look at your written list of dreams. Convert them into a “Be”, “Do” and “Have” manifesto. What would I like to have? Who would I like to be? What would I like to do?
They key here is that “having” is not the first point. Instead, “being” and “doing” come first. When we are being who we really are, and doing what we really want to do, the having comes naturally.
7. Time waits for no one
“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”
– Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee’s death at the young age of 32 underlines this point, as does his life of exceptional achievement. Thankfully for the world, Bruce Lee didn’t waist his potential, and we are all enriched because of this. The opportunities you have today may not always be available – so begin!
Don’t put it off ’till tomorrow. Take at least one concrete step towards one of your goals today.
8. Avoid Adult Onset ADD
“It’s time to have fun and let the rest follow.”
– Tim Ferriss
What is ADD? Adventure Deficit Disorder. Like hating your job, a disease that affects far too many adults today. But thankfully, it is curable! The prescription is simply to do more interesting and exciting things. After all, what motivates us to find our dream jobs but the things that they allow us to do?
Action: Have more fun!
The best way to avoid the backwards mentality of “I’ll grit my teeth and bear my job until I can afford to do cool things” is to actually start doing the cool things now. In this way, we can break out of the limpet survival mentality and reconnect with the passions that really drive us.
Pick anyone who has realized their dream jobs and ask if their path of success measures up to these eight points. Tony Robbins? Bruce Lee? Tim Ferriss? Oprah Winfrey? Steve Jobs? Even Confucius? If it works for them, it will surely work for you. Good luck!