We all want a better life. We all want a little more control over how the day goes, over what we do with our hours, and what we are able to achieve.
Fortunately, gaining greater control of your life is possible, although it often requires an unconventional approach.
I’m a lucky man. Early in life I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. With that vision, I began a process in my high school years that can only be described as “lifestyle design.” It required hard work, but no harder than the work you do every day. Today, I am reaping the benefits of my early investment. I have freedom and control in my life while being able to make an impact on the world. You can have this too, if you start your own lifestyle design today.
It begins by realizing that when it comes to the life you live, you have two choices. You can be PRO-active or you can be RE-active. You can either decide how it’s going to go (pro-active), or you can leave it up to your surroundings to make that call for you (re-active).
Only proactive people develop the control in their life that leads to happiness. As Jim Rohn says, “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
I started on my path to lifestyle design early, beginning at the age of 13. In my childhood I developed a love for reading, writing, healthy living, and helping others. I wanted to turn this passion into not only a job, but also an amazing livelihood.
I knew what I wanted to do. I just didn’t know exactly how to do it. But I realized that I needed to eliminate everything that didn’t take me in that direction.
This led me to a decision. I would avoid spending time and energy on anything that was not purposeful. If it didn’t get me closer to my goals, I was going to find a way to avoid it.
I knew that activities like cutting the lawn and other household chores were not going to get me closer to my dreams. Instead, I needed to be out earning money for college, training at the gym, and reading everything I could on health and fitness.
Obviously, this was a path that didn’t impress my parents. They called me lazy. They wanted me to do more work around the farm. But once I finished my mandatory chores, I spent the rest of my time working towards my goals and dreams.
This has been my winning approach to life ever since.
Today, the life I live looks nothing like that of a stereotypical lazy person, I get up early to write for a few hours, spend more time with my wife and kids than most Dad’s, and always make time for a rigorous workout.
Perhaps a better way to describe my behavior is that I’m selectively lazy. It’s a trait that I recommend to you as well.
As long as the work is self-directed and supports my vision, I’m willing to do just about anything to succeed. But if I judge the activity to be a waste of my time, I avoid it. I don’t wash my car, do my laundry, or shovel the driveway.
The bottom line is that you too can design your life around you. Of course, to achieve greater control in your life you are going to upset a few people along the way.
First of all, not everyone even believes the simple proposition that they can take control of their life. Therefore, you must expect blowback when you start to take control of yours.
People might say to you, “Who are you to live this way? That’s not normal.”
But as the Stoic philosopher Epictetus writes, “Don’t be concerned with other people’s impressions of you. They are dazzled and deluded by appearances. Stick with your purpose. This alone will strengthen your will and give your life coherence.”
Second, you can only achieve greater control in life when you are in a position of strength to demand it. To attain a position of strength, you must have leverage. My leverage is the ability to create products that people will pay for.
I spent years working hard to build up my valuable skills in selling fitness and personal development products. These skills, something author Cal Newport describes as Career Capital in his book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, are what give you the leverage to call the shots in life.
But once you get to that point, you still need to manage other people’s expectations to minimize the frustration and resentment that they might have about the level of control you have over your schedule.
Finally, there are your own inner demons to deal with. I grew up relatively poor, wearing patches on the knees of my pants to grade school, and watching my parents save money by doing everything themselves. To them, money was not something that you could simply go out and get more of. These attitudes about money can both help and harm. It is good to be wise with your money, but not to let your relationship with money become an anchor opposing your progress.
You’ll likely have similar internal mental baggage as you start to design your life. This resistance could be more powerful than other people’s opinions. The fact is that you could be your greatest enemy in living the life of your dreams.
My advice to you on dealing with this is as politically incorrect as the rest of today’s topic. But here it is:
You need to develop an air of superiority. You need what Dan Kennedy calls, “controlled self-confidence, bordering on arrogance.” Basically, everything your mother told you was wrong.
But I encourage you to accept and embrace this mentality. You need to believe that you are capable of doing great things, of living an above-average life, and of making an extraordinary impact on the world. You won’t achieve this by thinking of yourself as a normal Joe-Schmoe.
I’m sorry, but that’s the politically incorrect truth.
Look at it this way. If I didn’t know that my work is more valuable than say, cutting the lawn, then I wouldn’t have made the time to help hundreds of thousands of people each day with our Early To Rise content.
Instead I’d be wasting my day saving $20 per hour rather than sourcing articles from great authors and thought leaders, like James Altucher, Jason Leister, Bob Burg, Matt Smith, and of course, our mentor, Mark Ford, who change the lives of tens of thousands of people.
This is not average thinking.
But we are not average people. Nor should we want to be. The average person, as you know, gets average results and lives an average life. The average life, according to statistics, is a life of stress, debt, and watching four hours of television per night. Average is not good.
You must live different. You must be proactive with your lifestyle design.
You’ve probably thought about doing things differently. You’ve developed a desire for more control. But for some reason, you’re waiting for permission to go ahead and finally take action on it. If so, then by all means, consider this “Permission Granted.”
Don’t wait any longer to design your life to maximize your contribution to the world.
You may feel unsure at first. You might even feel that you are not worthy. Years of having the scarcity mindset passed down to you from your parents can be a terrible set of chains to drag around for life. These chains can be tough to unshackle. But lose them, you must.
You might try and tell yourself that you are too shy, humble, or modest to take this approach to life, but you must let this go.
Just like the first time you talked to someone of the opposite sex when you were twelve years old, it might seem hard at first, but after you try it, and get a little feedback, you’ll try it again, and the process will get easier each time.
You must realize that in order to add value to the world you must allow yourself the time to do so. And that means cutting out the day-to-day activities that someone else can do for you.
I’m here to tell you, and even to give you permission, that if you want to live the life of your dreams, then you must stand up and take control over it right now.
We’re not getting any younger.
When it comes to taking control over how you live the rest of your life, this is no time to hold back. You must first decide what is right for you, and then go after it with all of your energy.
As Mark Ford advises, “Identify what you want to do, with whom, and where.”
Answer those questions, create your vision, and begin designing your life today.