I’ve spent most of my life learning how to make my dreams come true. It’s my passion and my obsession. Today I want to share my Top 5 Lifestyle Strategies so you can do the same.
This stuff doesn’t require superhuman effort, and it isn’t restricted to a fortunate few. I came from a town of 4,500 people. My dad worked in a factory as a plumber and steamfitter. I had bad grades in high school and got kicked out more times than I can count. I went to a mediocre university, worked for minimum wage (and less), and was down to the last $15 in my wallet on more than one occasion.
Today I’ve got a very successful business and a hot wife. My writing is regularly published in Canada’s largest travel magazine. And I live in a 400 year old palazzo on an island in the Mediterranean. I spend every day doing the things I love, with people I respect, to create products and art I believe in.
I had no special talents or advantages. Anyone can do this stuff–including YOU.
Start by focusing on these 5 strategies.
1. Get Clear on Your Purpose
Want to make your dreams come true? Clarifying your purpose is the single most effective thing you can possibly do.
Having a clear understanding of your purpose allows you to make decisions quickly and easily. It keeps your goals on track. It helps you avoid mistakes and keeps you out of trouble. And it forms a simple quick-reference checklist for evaluating any commitment or action.
Everything in your life is oriented around the compass needle of your purpose. If you’re not sure what your purpose is, don’t worry. That’s normal. Get a notebook and pen and write down the vision for your life. Watch Craig’s video here for help.
And remember: your Purpose must be relevant to you. Why? Because its YOUR purpose. Why should you “do more to serve your community” or “build those six pack abs” or “enrich your vocabulary by reading the classics” if you don’t care about those things? Don’t buy the tripe that they sell ya. This short life is yours to live as you see fit. Get comfortable with yourself, and know that it’s okay to like the things you like and to pursue your own path.
2. Follow a Plan
You might reach a goal or two through guesswork and intuition, but that’s just luck at best. And without a map you’ll probably circumnavigate the globe to walk across the street.
Maximize your effectiveness–and keep your weaknesses in check–by following a plan.
It’s actually pretty simple to chart your way to any goal IF you use these two strategies: deadlines and accountability.
Deadlines force you to get serious, to meet your targets, and to own up when you’re not staying true to your plan. Without firm deadlines it’s too easy to make excuses, to get caught up in endless email checking loops, or to sidetrack yourself with busywork that has nothing to do with your goal.
And that’s where accountability comes in. You need some way to keep yourself on track. I’m not saying you’re going to lie to yourself and dream up all these great stories about things you’ve never really done–although I’ve known a few people who fall into that trap. I’m saying memory is fallible, and it’s easy to imagine you’re accomplishing more than you really are, just because you’re “working on it.” A system of accountability gives you a way to track your progress.
These are your tools. Use them and you can accomplish any task you set for yourself.
3. Houseclean Your Life
Recognize that you can’t possibly do everything, and you can’t be all things to all people.
Know that in choosing to do one thing, you’re also choosing not to do an awful lot of other things. Commit to people, actions, or things only when they’re in line with Item 1 on this list–your Purpose.
For most of us, that requires some housecleaning…
It’s important to “clean house” on a regular basis and to remove from your life those material things, practices, and relationships that are no longer aligned with your goals. That includes people who drag you down, who you spend time with out of sheer obligation, who prey on your good nature, or who pull you back into bad habits when you’re trying to change.
Remove the superfluous from your life and, like a sculptor, carve away absolutely everything that doesn’t match the ideal vision in your head. When you do, new opportunities you never imagined will rush in to fill that space. You’ll find it much easier to focus on those things that truly matter to you and those dreams you’re determined to make come true. If you’re clear on your Purpose, you’ll also find it much easier to keep fresh clutter out of your life.
Remember to pause every 4 to 6 months to reassess. Clutter has a way of creeping back in, just like dust in a room. Houseclean any new distractions and get back on track.
4. Embrace Responsibility for Your Life
I think it needs to be said flat out, because so much of society sends us the opposite message. YOU are responsible for yourself. Responsible for what you do. Responsible for who you are. Responsible for the way you face the world and deal with it. You aren’t a victim of your childhood or your past or your circumstances–unless you choose to be. There are no excuses.
That’s a tremendously empowering realization, or at least it was for me. When I realized I was responsible for myself, I stopped making excuses, and I stopped waiting for others to help me. Instead, I started changing my life.
No, it’s not easy. Nothing worthwhile is. But it DOES get easier if you’re clear about your purpose, and you embrace it with passion. When you’re driven by that purpose, when every action you take is aligned with it, it’s easy to stay on track and nail every goal you set for yourself.
5. Focus on Direct Alternatives
The actions you take to solve a particular problem or to make a change in your life break down into two categories: direct actions and indirect actions.
Indirect actions are things that require the cooperation of other people. In other words, they aren’t entirely in your control. If you think the only way for you to be happy is for your spouse to work out with you, then you’ve based your happiness on an indirect solution to your needs.
Direct actions, on the other hand, are actions that you can take right now. They don’t require asking permission. They don’t require changing the world. They don’t require attempting to force someone else to do something.
When it comes to setting goals, all or almost all the steps you take toward your goal should be based on direct actions. That puts YOU firmly in control of your own destiny. To do anything less is to hand someone else control of your life.
So that’s it. There’s no magic potion. Dreams aren’t bestowed from above. You have to reach out and take them. All it requires is hard work, strategy and the determination to see it through.
These 5 Lifestyle Strategies worked for me, and they’ll work for anyone. Embrace them and you’ll be well on your way to creating the life you’ve always dreamed of.[Ed. Note: Ryan Murdock is coauthor of the Shapeshifter Body Redesign program. When not helping people rediscover the body of their “glory years,“ Ryan travels the world’s marginal places as Editor-at-Large (Europe) for Outpost magazine. Ryan’s work has also appeared in Alo Magazine, the anthologies Traveler’s Tales Central America and Traveler’s Tales China, and Toronto’s Eye Weekly. His Outpost feature “Taklamakan: The Worst Desert in the World” was nominated for a National Magazine Award in Canada.]