“I have achieved more than my classmates and friends at the age of 26. I am already a lecturer in physics. Why don't I feel satisfied with what I have and want to do more?”
Figuring out what you really want in life is likely the most important adventure you will ever face.
I've had an Interesting Life...
At age 23, my first business had taken off. I had 25 employees, with major clients worldwide. My products were winning prestigious awards, industry recognition, and were on magazine covers. I had a gorgeous house, 4 cars, a wife and 2 beautiful children.
My friends and my parents thought I had “made it” - that I had achieved the perfect life.
By age 26, I was in the process of selling that business, which did $8M in revenue. Small potatoes by today’s Internet fortune standards, but at the time, for me, it was a level of success well beyond anything I’d ever imagined.
I had everything I thought I ever wanted.
And yet... despite the fact that every part of my life seemed successful, I felt dissatisfied, unhappy, stressed, and empty.
I had material success, sure. But, it felt empty. But why didn’t it satisfy me? What exactly did I need? What was I craving? What was missing? Where does happiness and fulfillment come from, anyway?
I had no idea.
And so began my search for meaning, purpose, and happiness.
That was 20 years ago.
I've learned a lot since.
Since that first business, I’ve started 35 more businesses, coached entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executive teams, dined with billionaires, and I’ve learned a lot from some great people in those years.
In everyone I’ve worked with I see the same lessons again and again.
These are probably my top 4.
#1 - Know what Success means to YOU
Success is a very personal thing, and it almost never matches the idea that your parents, teachers, and society handed you.
What you’ve been told to believe will make you "happy" and "fulfilled" will depend on where you’re from. I grew up in America so in my case the pursuit of fame, fortune, babes, "the good life" with nice houses and cars… these were thought to be the holy grail of success.
And these are great icing, but they are not the cake.
You need to like yourself.
Instead of chasing what society tells you to, become someone that impresses yourself, and not others. That means being authentic, discovering who you are, living by your own core values.
Without that, your life is based on things that don’t really matter to you, and you are just chasing other peoples' dreams.
It's easy to spend your whole life climbing a mountain, only to reach the top... and then realize you've climbed the wrong one.
As disappointing as this realization was, I was very lucky to learn this lesson early.
#2 - Find, and Maintain Balance
Balance is essential.
It’s great to be killing it in your career, but how about your relationships? Your friendships? Your health & fitness? Your personal development, and sense-of-self? Your mission or purpose in life?
I divide my life into 5 areas, and make certain I’m looking after every one of them.
- Mindset, including knowledge, skills, inner peace, emotional soundness, and sense-of-self
- Health & fitness, including nutrition
- Relationships, including romance, family, friends, children and more
- Career & wealth, including entrepreneurship, investing, and financial management
- Mission & purpose- what I want to leave behind when I'm gone, and what experiences I want to have had
If you are missing an important category, you’ll feel it, as a constant, grating emotional stress. That stress will consume a huge amount of your emotional energy, and will ultimately burn you out.
Life feels wrong, and full of stress when something important is missing.
#3 - People first
No matter how rich or successful you become, your success is the result of other people... your mentors, your employees, your business partners, your clients, your society.
Never forget that.
Your success, and the success of everyone around you, are intertwined.
Treat them well.
#4 - Know who you are
Who are you, really?
You are not your business. You are not your success. You are not your money, or your fame, or even your family. So who are you underneath all of that? Developing your identity separately from those things is essential.
I still love running businesses, I’m currently running 4. But my life is also full of hobbies that deeply enrich me and balance out my world.
I’m exploring nutrition & bodybuilding, writing, coaching, video production, performing arts, forming social groups and networks.
My life feels rich and purposeful. I’m far less stressed, now that I’ve found balance and purpose that fit me well, and I wake up each day with excitement.
As a huge bonus, I seem to have more time and energy than ever before, because...
Finding purpose creates passion.
The Ikigai Concept
There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but there is a powerful pattern you can use known as “Ikigai.” In Japanese it translates as reason for being, and it’s a model that I use often in coaching, and when balancing my own life.
Ikigai is a 4-part Venn Diagram. Your objective is to identify where you’re at on the diagram, and from there, to chart a course towards the center.
In an ideal situation, you could find one thing that combines all of these objectives perfectly and places you at the centre. In practice, however, I find that the easiest way to achieve Ikigai is through a combination of work, hobbies and passions that balance each other to create your idea life.
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