You and I are busy people. Our lives have many facets, with work, home, family, friends, colleagues, partners and perhaps children as well. And over the years, no doubt, commitments have crept in, almost unnoticed, to the point where, whether you know it or not, there are probably already multiple versions of you. Which begs the question…are you living the life you were meant to lead?
Think for a moment about how many versions of you there are.
There’s the personal you with family and friends, the professional you with colleagues and bosses, the you in a relationship, the you as a parent, as well as just you being you. Each version of you has to meet differing demands and expectations, each version of you dialled up or down as you and your life evolves.
When I first started my business, I was young and single and habitually put in 14-hour days, going hell for leather as I set about building my company. On a weekend I would wake up, go for a long cycle ride, or read the newspapers until mid-morning, and then head into the of office to work for the rest of the day. The ‘me’ that existed in that period of my life was almost entirely weighted towards the professional me.
When I met my wife, Jane, she didn’t live in the same country, much less the same city, so I had to make changes to my routine and my schedule in order to get the most out of both my career and my relationship. I had to learn to manage the tension between the professional me and the relationship me. Since I wanted to win at both, I had to learn how to play well at both.
A few years later, along came our children…
…and I had to reset again, so I was able to give energy to all the dynamics that defined me:
- The personal me: I still wanted time to focus on my fitness and meet up with family and friends, but usually this ‘me’ was the one pushed aside due to the demands of the other ‘me’s.
- The professional me: I was still ambitious to build a world-class business and I was the driving force to make it happen.
- The relationship me: Our relationship was evolving to handle our new dynamic – children – but we both recognised that we needed to create time for us to be a couple. Easier said than done!
- The parent me: This one I had to learn on the job, and if you’re a parent you’ll know what this journey is like – rewarding, exhilarating and terrifying, all at once.
Managing the tensions between these various versions of ‘me’ is something I’ve had to learn and, if I’m being totally honest, am still learning, as new demands and challenges arise.
The answer isn’t to become universally excellent at all of them, but to understand clearly which one requires the most attention at any given point. Remember, there are many versions of you but only one physical you.
3 Guiding Principles
I’d like to introduce you to three guiding principles that are critical as you embark on your journey of living the life you were meant to lead.
Guiding principle 1:Your past does not equal your future
To put it another way, you can be the way you are because of your past, or … you can be the way you are because of your past. There is significant importance of learning lessons from the past but not living in the past. But the meaning we attach to those lessons is what really shapes us. Life is constantly testing us, and the quality of our life is determined by the quality of the choices we choose to make.
Guiding principle 2: Understand the power of your choices
One of the most interesting things about life is that first you make your choices but, ultimately, your choices make you.
The difference between those who achieve and those who fail to realise their potential lies in the quality of the choices they make. Why do some people make better choices than others and realise their potential? It’s because they make their choices with conscious, deliberate intent. They are not sleep- walking through life. They do not live on autopilot, just going through the daily, mundane routine. They know that how they show up at their choice points is critical to their success.
Think about it for a moment.
Every decision you’ve made, whether at a conscious or unconscious level, has got you to this moment in time.
The reality is that the quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of the choices you make every day. And it’s not just the big life decisions that truly shape your destiny. It’s the small incremental choices that really make the difference. The compound effect of those small choices every day will have an exponential impact on the quality of your life: Do you…
- hit the snooze button on the alarm clock or get up and create some quality time to think and plan the day ahead?
- drink the smoothie or the can of cola?
- eat the chocolate or the piece of fruit?
- make the extra couple of sales calls or call it a day?
- drive to the gym or stay at home to watch TV?
- decelerate or accelerate as you approach the finish line?
How good are the choices you’ve made in your life to date?
Guiding principle 3: Put some skin in the game!
You can’t achieve success in life if you’re on autopilot. Too many people live in ‘the safe harbour of the known’. They do the same things over and over again, following the same routine and thought process, thinking that, since it worked in the past, they can keep replicating it and it will work in the future. Some things will work, but a lot will not.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.
Real joy comes when you put ‘skin in the game’ and take some chances. Believe me, I’ve had some fantastic failures both personally and professionally but, boy, have I learned from them.
The most important thing is to put yourself in the arena of life, out there on the playing field, taking action and shaping your future. You can’t win without leaving your safety zone and taking some calculated risks.
No risk = no reward.
The reality is that the more risks you take in pursuit of your goals, the greater your risk of failure, but also the greater your chances of brilliant success.
The real risk in life lies in living risk-free.
Mark Twain made the point perfectly when he said: ‘Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour, and catch the trade winds in your sails.’
Remember: you make your choices and then your choices make you.
How serious are you about living the life you were meant to lead?