Stop Waiting for Retirement – Start Chasing Your Dreams
What if I told you that your success in life comes down to some basic fundamentals? What if I could tell you the exact principles that we used to create positive change in our lives? By analyzing our successes and failures, I have identified the top 10 principles to accelerate your success.
In the first post of this series, I introduced the framework my husband, Jer, and I used to stop waiting until we retire to chase our dreams. The first step to creating midlife change is to get your personal finances in order. The second step is to embrace your spiritual side. To stay on schedule for Make a Fortune Friday, we covered Career and Contribution next. The third pillar, Health and Wellness, was followed by the power of positive relationships. How to create a social life that’s connected to hobbies and recreation was the focus of the sixth pillar. The final pillar, Personal Development, tied them all together.
In each post, I shared how we made progress in each specific area. As we journeyed through change, I began to notice that some of our values were accelerating our success. After creating a list of more than 20 principles, I identified these as the most essential.
How the Right Values Lead to Success
What is success? It’s becoming increasingly evident that success for many people has nothing to do with a big house, fancy car, or grandiose title. I like Earl Nightingale’s definition from The Strangest Secret. “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal or ideal.” If you have a goal, and you’re making progress toward that goal, congratulations – you are a success!
Building your success on the foundation of principles changes you. These principles change your relationships. Your attitude and expectations are transformed. You”ll pursue opportunities for change with a new level of excitement. As you begin to change, so will your results.
When was the last time you shouted “Thank You!” for a simple gift like sunshine or your favorite song? The great news about gratitude is that it’s a fairly simple habit to learn. On Valentine’s Day 2012 I decided it was time to be more grateful. That morning I started a gratitude journal in Evernote. Each day, I tried to add at least one thing I was grateful for to the list.
Much of that list is the same today, but the habit has changed. Today, the first thing I did before jumping out of bed was list all of the things I am thankful for: good health, a loving spouse, community, opportunity, sunshine … Eventually, this habit began to weave itself into my day. I remember one particularly dreary day, the sun broke through the clouds and I shouted, “Thank you for the sunshine!”
Living life with a grateful heart is a life without expectations. A life without expectations is a life of satisfaction. A life of satisfaction attracts more great things. A grateful life is a full life.
Think about a time when someone was generous to you when you needed it most. Whether with their time or resources, think about how that moment affected where you are today. Now ask yourself, are you doing everything you can to be generous to others?
Some of us are naturally more generous. I am grateful that Jer has taught me the power of generosity. We have been generously blessed for giving away our time, talent and resources. I’m not just talking about financial gains. We are continuously rewarded with the joy of watching people create positive change in their lives.
While volunteering last summer, a boy I was working with burst out in joy and yelled, “Holly, you are SO nice!” and gave me with the most genuine hug ever. There is no other way I could have spent that evening that would have created more value. Choosing to be generous has helped so many people, especially me.
One of Jer’s favorite quotes is from Jocko Willink, “Discipline equals freedom.” The million dollar question is where does discipline come from?
I would dare to say that discipline is one of my super powers. I’ve always just been able to get stuff done. While having dinner with my parents recently, I realized that I have many of the same routines as my father. For me, it’s 50 percent nature, 20 percent nurture, and 30 percent practice and repetition. I’m still human and need to be intentional with the choices I make.
Jer, on the other hand, is not wired this way. This is why I can tell you with confidence that discipline can be learned. Through habits and structure, the most free-spirited individual can create systems to help them achieve their goals. And it is these systems create the freedom we all crave.
Why do all the things that are good for you seem so hard? Webster’s dictionary defines humility as the state of not thinking you are better than other people. For me this means – stop judging!
I truly believe that everyone has unlimited potential and that you are on this earth of a reason. That doesn’t stop me from judging the people who take the front pews, reserved for the blind and deaf, at Easter mass.
Nothing good comes from judging others. We all have strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. If we can accept these things without categorizing them as good or bad, we’re on the path to victory. It’s not always easy, but taking small steps to be more humble will create big changes.
Optimism and Confidence
We become what we think about. Our thoughts become our reality. Therefore, the only way to live is with optimism. Consistent optimism helps build the confidence we need to live our best lives.
What do you lose when you lose your integrity? Trust! I imagine we’ve all made mistakes that have caused us to lose the trust of someone important to us. How easy is it to rebuild that trust? The only way to ensure that you never lose that trust is to live a life of honesty and integrity.
Life isn’t fair. We’ve all been burden with our fair share of crap. At the end of the day, we can’t control the crap, but we can control how we respond to it. That’s what accountability is all about. Accept complete responsibility for where your life is today. No more crappy excuses.
Resilience and Persistence
Persistence is the ability to keep going in spite of opposition. Yesterday while cycling we faced 40 MPH wind gusts. I reminded myself that the resistance was making me stronger.
Resistance can be physical and emotionally exhausting. That’s why finding the strength to keep moving forward is so rewarding. Think of a time you accomplished something even though the odds were against you. I bet it felt awesome! Maybe you felt like you could do anything.
The next time you face opposition take your focus off of the finish line. Focus on your cadence. Keep moving forward and you’ll accomplish great things.
I’m wired to be a perfectionist which makes decisiveness a struggle. When I began writing, I was forced to be more decisive. I remember wanting reassurance that I was heading in the right direction. Instead, I had to learn to trust my vision and intuition.
It’s okay to take time and think about things to get clarity. Just make sure you set a deadline. I also find it helpful to work through each possible scenario. I did this recently for an opportunity I was considering. When I broke down the time commitment, it was clearly something I could not take on.
Don’t forget about the value of honest feedback from others. Or you could use Derek Sivers’s HELL YEAH! Strategy. However you approach it, remember that the worst thing you can do is not make a decision.
Last but not least, you need a little shot of courage. Our best experiences and opportunities came from stepping out of our comfort zone. I may not have mentioned it, but going to Nicaragua before it became a tourist destination, scared the crap out of me. But I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Think of a time when you tried something that scared the crap out of you. How did it feel after you accomplished it? I imagine you cherish these experiences and wouldn’t change them for the world. It’s your duty is to keep pursuing these things.
Connecting the Dots
Are you beginning to see how each post in this series is interconnected? These 10 principles are tied to your progress in each of the seven pillars. Your success in each pillar directly affects the other six pillars. It’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out. Just start with one thing and you’ll begin to see it all come together. It’s a life long journey.
Your assignment is to think about which of the 10 principles you could work on. Pick one to focus on with a small habit change.
If you want to be more grateful, commit to writing down 3 things that you are grateful for every night before you go to sleep. If your goal is to be more decisive, start making simple decisions, like where to go for lunch, instantly. No matter what you choose, be persistent and keep moving forward.
Which of these principles are your super powers?
What tips do you have to help others in this community implement those principles?
Share in the comments below.
Stop Waiting for Retirement – Start Chasing Your Dreams
Part I – The Framework
Part II – Personal Finance
Part III – Spirituality
Part IV – Career and Contribution
Part V – Health and Wellness
Part VI – Relationship and Family
Part VII – Social and Recreation
Part VIII – Personal Development
Part IX – 10 Principles of Prosperity
Part X – Life Change Strategy
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