So many of us have goals and dreams for a meaningful future… for a life well lived.
Visions of authenticity, growth, family, and influence.
But often we let those future constructs lie years ahead of us. We play a waiting game…
And we think that one day something big will happen and all that we’ve dream of and envisioned will come true.
We will never become anything more than what we habitually practice.
The person you want to be in future and the life you want to have exists inside you right now.
This is exactly how you can grow into the person you want to become
When entering into college I thought I had to have it all figured out. I allowed myself to feel pressured into believing that there was only one right choice. And that somehow I could miss my purpose.
I had this fear that if I picked the “wrong major” then I’d be a failure. A failure to myself and to other people.
I initially tried to think of majors that seemed perfectly lined up with were I was at right then. I loved music so I thought “why not major in music?”.
I started to choose a path based on my current emotions. And I almost missed out on a path that would shape my long-term vision…
Because I was good at music, I thought that it was something I was supposed to do.
I took the narrow understanding and limited experience I had and wrapped it up into major. Wrapped it up into a life-altering direction.
I took a present emotion and presumed that if this is who I am now, then this is who I will always be...
So often when people ask what their purpose is, people just respond “what are you good at?”.
I think the intention is right, but it’s missing so many components that make us who we dynamically are.
I had to realize how powerful finding and practicing my life purpose was. I also had to realize I could become more than my present thoughts, actions, and skills.
10/10/10: Make decisions like Buffet
To create a life well lived, saturated with purpose and fulfillment, we must elevate our thinking and shift our perspective.
After I realized purpose in my own life, I began to explore who I want to be 20 years from now instead of 2 years from now.
Then, my major didn’t become who I am, it was simply a tool used to become who I want to be. So, I chose a major that I thought we best equip me for my 20+ year vision.
My identity wasn’t being controlled by the present. Rather, my identity was constantly being shaped by my vision for the future.
Warren Buffet uses the strategy of 10/10/10 to help him make high-level thinking decisions. It simply goes like this:
When making a difficult decision, ask yourself:
How will I feel about it in 10 minutes:
How will I feel about it in 10 months:
How will I feel about it in 10 years:
This practice will broaden your perspective. Coupled with understanding your life purpose, you’ll allow yourself to make decisions that aren’t rooted in present circumstances that neglect your long-term vision.
What are you doing now to live out your vision?
I remember several times when I’d talk to people in college and they’d tell me about their major and their classes. I’d ask one simple question that usually went unanswered…
“What are you doing now to live out your vision?”
For example, I talked to a nursing student who loved his classes and was super excited about getting hired. I asked him “how are you currently helping people who are hurting?”.
After all, that’s what the job is about.
Although he was taking classes and working towards helping people in the future, he was missing out on a huge opportunity to practice living out his purpose right now.
I see so many people in college supplement their purpose with their major… They recognize their life mission, but instead of living it they assume the daily practice of purpose will be bestowed upon them when they get handed a diploma.
And this isn’t just in college, we do this with our careers and relationships too…
We believe that somehow a future event will eventually change us and mold us into the person we want to become if we just dream hard enough.
We believe that graduating, or a new job, or a promotion, or a new city will flip some switch that transforms us into the person we’ve always wanted to be.
We constantly cast the burden of transformation on our future self. But, eventually the weight becomes so grand that we crumple and never start.
If we continue to believe a life well lived can only exist in the future, then we will continue to feel sluggish and frustrated.
Dreaming is nothing without action
I love dreaming. I absolutely encourage it. But, I also love action.
Each morning I spend 25 minutes meditating on the dreams and goals I have for myself. (Sidenote: pick up the book Psycho-Cybernetics to understand why you should do this too).
But, that exercise is useless if I don’t do anything the rest of the day to do those goals.
If we don’t translate our ideal future into practical steps we can start tomorrow, we will never grow.
Think of who you want to become. Paint a vivid picture. How does your life look. What does it feel like. Each morning, what’s the first thing you see. How does the breeze smell.
Now, what’s in the way of you obtaining a life well lived?
Is it money? Is it genuineness? Is it vulnerability? Is it compassion?
It’s amazing how we cast off the growth of these skills until the future.
That’s exactly what I did. I would dream about what success and happiness should look like in my life. And then I’d go to bed and spend hours just imagining how great life could be one day.
There’s a big problem with that mindset…
You will never encounter a life switch so grand that you’ll be thrust into your ideal life. It will always be a process of persistent growth.
The true path to a life well lived is to discover what your ideal life looks like and then start practicing it every single day.
If your vision of a great life is to have deep, giving relationships, then start that tomorrow...
It’s going to be sloppy and awkward and uncomfortable, but you can rest in the fact that you’re one step closer to bringing your ideal self into the present.
Don’t supplement your major, or job, or promotion, or relationships, or any other distraction for purpose.
Explore what you want a life well lived to look like. Paint yourself an obtainable picture of the future.
Next, look for what’s in your way… what do you need to grow in?
And start practicing those traits right now…
If you want a life filled with wealth: start reading on how to invest, get a mentor, and start investing.
If you want a life filled with compassion: join your community’s local initiatives to help the homeless.
If you want a life filled with joy: start exercising joy and gratitude with your friends in tough situations.
You will always feel frustrated and trapped unless you capture your purpose and start living it now. Take is slow, each day you’ll draw closer and closer your ideal self.
In the process of growth you’ll find a life well lived.