Over the past few weeks, I’ve read a couple of articles about research by Gallup on whether Americans are satisfied or unsatisfied with life. They were asking about people’s personal lives—work, money, relationships, possibilities for the future, etcetera.
Lots of people wrote about the results with a big grin. Look at how satisfied we all are, they said. The numbers don’t lie: 87 percent of us are doing great.
Wrong. That’s not what the numbers said. The results showed that 57 percent of people said they were very satisfied. But 43 percent of Americans admitted that they were either dissatisfied or only somewhat satisfied with their lives. In whose mind is that a good thing? Have we all become so used to mediocrity that being even “somewhat satisfied” is a sign that everything is just fine and dandy?
This is my one-sentence manifesto:
Everything about our world gets better when people apply their maximum talents, when people do exciting things, when people build awesome relationships. Each of us doing big things, and doing them now, is what we should all be hoping for.
Don’t let time slip away because you can’t admit that deep down, something’s missing. Don’t let yourself be lulled into the mediocrity trap, convincing yourself it’s okay to be unsatisfied with life. It’s time you started breaking away from dissatisfaction and living your biggest, most exciting life. Here’s how.
Stop Apologizing for Wanting More!
Lots of people who live mediocre lives share a common mentality: They feel guilty for wanting nicer things. They feel bad about wanting to be rich. They feel like they aren’t a good person if they want to climb the ladder as high as they can go. Ambition for them is a negative, dirty word.
Why is it wrong to want to do something great with your life? It isn’t. You know what’s wrong? Wanting to settle for mediocrity. How is that making maximum use of everything you have to offer the world? How is being unsatisfied with life noble?
I’m taking a serious stand on this, laying down a law for living your biggest life: The only thing you should be ashamed of is wanting to “just get by.”
Feel great about wanting to do great things!
Own it! Don’t listen to the people encouraging you to make excuses or telling you to lower your standards or convincing you that what you really want isn’t going to happen for you. Try to be rich, if that’s what you want: you could become one of the billionaire philanthropists who will help contribute about $27 trillion to charities in the next five years, according to research from the University of Pennsylvania.
Remember this: Criticism and doubt always come from people who are unsatisfied with life. The grumblers are never going to want what you want or see the world the way you do. They don’t have the experience to tell you what is or isn’t possible in your life.
The most encouraging people? High achievers. They’ve been through the process, and they know you are perfectly capable of overcoming any obstacles in your way. Almost anybody is. They also know that you don’t have to sacrifice your integrity or ethics or morals to do big, exciting things. And the result is 100 percent worth the effort.
Do More, Starting Now!
A woman who works with me has always loved photography. A little over a year ago, she battled down the doubts that uninformed people had filled her with. It’s too hard make a living at it, they said. But she launched herself into the world of professional photography anyway. She still works with me during the day, but in the evenings and on the weekends (when most special event photography happens), she’s working away, building her business.
The other day, she said, “You know, before I started doing this, I never knew how much time I was wasting. I never knew how much I could get done … until I did it. Now, the busier I am, the happier I am.”
Busy people are happy people!
Despite what we’re often told, busy people are happy people. High achieving people are busy people. We know for a fact that we aren’t built for sitting. Wasting our time, watching our lives pass by, being lazy—that just leaves us feeling unsatisfied with life! The real cause of stress in our lives isn’t doing too much. Instead, stress is caused by doing too much of the stuff we don’t want to do, or stuff that isn’t satisfying or fulfilling.
The best way to live a great, exciting life? Pack it full of activity. Whatever you want to do, do more of it. You want to travel more? Start this weekend. Get in the car, drive somewhere you’ve never been, find a hotel, and explore. You want to write more? Start tonight. You want to have more fun time with your family? Make dinner tonight a picnic instead of another TV fest.
See all of those holes in your calendar? Fill them up, starting now!
Early on in building my business, I was hyper focused on growth. That’s the way it should be. Anything I could do to improve the results of my team, I would do. And it worked. Eventually, we were doing incredibly well.
At the same time, my boys were getting older, my team was getting bigger, and I was running all over the place trying to accomplish everything. Plus I had a bunch of hobbies—music and horseback riding and golf.
I reached the point where my life was just wild. One day, my wife said to me, “You’ve got to slow down and take care of yourself, or you’re going to give yourself a heart attack.” I thought, Maybe she’s right. So I said, “Starting today, I’m going to make a conscious effort to slow down, catch my breath, take time to get organized.”
After 18 months of that effort, guess where I was? My life was more chaotic, more disorganized, more stressful, less fun, less interesting, and less profitable. I had proved to myself that slowing down wasn’t the answer.
Look before you leap. Plan ahead. Get your facts. Haste makes waste. These aren’t necessarily bad lines of advice. However … when we hear them, we think, Go slow. We even have that great line in our collective consciousness: Slow and steady wins the race.
It’s a lie. It’s called a race for a reason. The reason the hare in the fable lost? It wasn’t because he ran too fast; it was because he was lazy, overconfident, and obnoxious.
The way you achieve more, which is an absolute must if you don’t want to be unsatisfied with life, is to go fast.
Going fast makes it hard for the problems to catch up to you.
You blow right past them. I found that just about everything in life is easier when I decided to do it fast. The slower you go, the more time you spend overthinking, overplanning, overanalyzing instead of overdoing. You clog your mind with doubt because you haven’t fully engaged your mind in the task at hand. When you’re going fast, your mind is fully engaged in making something happen.
So what did I do after I realized that slowing down wasn’t working for me? I went back to full speed ahead again, on all of the things that I really wanted to be doing anyway. I’ve never stopped that approach. I give it all the credit for the amazing things I’ve done in my life, and am still doing.
Be aggressive with your goals. Set milestones that challenge you to push yourself harder. Give yourself tight deadlines. You never know how fast you’re capable of going until you pull out all the stops. And the more momentum you build, the easier everything will be.