How to Achieve What You Want in Life
One of the many FAQs I receive is “How do I achieve what I want in life?”
I respond with a number of questions, a suggestion to do a very important activity and some tips, all of which are outlined below.
The biggest question — the million dollar question — is “What do you want?” The answers are usually quite vague, along the lines of “I want to be healthy”, “I want to be rich”, “I want to be happy”, “I want to be loved”, “I want to travel”, “I want to do meaningful work”, and so on. While these are all a good start, they aren’t clear enough to help formulate a plan to get from “Here” to “There” and that’s what I’ll share below.
- If you don’t know what you want, you’ll never get what you heart desires
- If you don’t know where you’re headed, you’ll think you’ve arrived when, in fact, you are lost
- The best way to begin to get clarity on values, vision, what you want, your Purpose and how to plan to get from where you are today to your idea of your best day living your best life is by doing the activity below
- Then use the tips to help you get there (if you need more than tips, click on them to get more help)
Sometimes, people don’t even know exactly what they want or where they are headed (they know what they don’t want — the things that are making them miserable). They’ve never really stopped to think about it. They are simply surviving. However, if they don’t know what their future looks like in terms of specific details and what they value, they could start down a path that is going to lead to new things that make them miserable.
Think of this activity as one that creates a picture on the lid of a great big jigsaw puzzle. All the pieces are comprised of what matters to you, your values, your vision, your strengths etc. You simply don’t know the image you are trying to make with all the pieces yet.
The point of this activity is to get you thinking about your future in a way that touches your heart rather than your head.
This activity is about imagining your best day in your ideal lifestyle.
Imagine your life in the future at least 10 years out. The likelihood of this day unfolding exactly as you imagine it is very slim. After all, the world will be a much different place and you will be much more experienced and wiser in 10 years.
- 10 years from now the work you imagine in this exercise may no longer be relevant or needed.
- In 10 years the people you imagine may no longer be in your life and you will have new friends and possibly new family members.
- In 10 years time you may have had some amazing success that makes what you imagine today a little under-achieving.
- You may have had some curveballs that have completely changed the course of your life.
And this is all perfectly fine.
This is not the point of this activity though. The point is to gain clarity about what you WANT, what your VALUES are, WHAT you consciously or subconciously think is “perfect” for you right now at this point in your life.
Imagine that you are living the BEST life you could possibly imagine. Pick one day in that BEST life — your Ideal Day — and describe it in such detail that your favourite actress and a director could reenact this day exactly as you imagine it.
Close your eyes, relax, put your feet up or meditate and ask yourself to picture yourself one day in the future. This is what you would consider to be a perfect day. It can be a day when you are retired or a day when you are still working. It doesn’t matter. Simply ensure its at least 10 years out so that it stretches your imagination beyond what your brain can envision to what your heart is telling you that matters to you — your lifestyle, your values, your purpose and what makes you feel happy and fulfilled.
Imagine the day from the moment you open your eyes in the morning until the time you go to bed.
- How old are you?
- Where are you living when you wake up?
- What time do you get up?
- Who is in bed beside you when you wake? (or what… e.g. your pet)
- What does your room look like?
- What does your house look like?
- What do you have for breakfast, lunch, dinner?
- Then what do you do in your day?
- Who do you talk to throughout the day?
- What are you planning?
- What are you working on?
- What kind of work are you doing?
- What do you do for fun?
- What are you planning?
- Who do you see?
- What activities do you do?
- What’s happening with your family and friends?
- How do you feel? Pay special attention to how you feel both as you imagine this day in the future and how you feel about your dream.
- How does this day compare with other days this week, this month, this year? (Is it very similar to other days or are your days quite different?)
Write out your imagined day with such detail that an actor and director could re-enact it perfectly.
If something you imagined doesn’t feel exactly right when you are writing, ask yourself what feels off and then adjust it. (Hint: consider if it is the dream itself that doesn’t feel right OR if you are doubting your ability to achieve it. There is a huge difference).
Keep tweaking until it feels right, if it’s the dream itself that doesn’t seem aligned with your values, your strengths, your purpose or what you like.
For example, I thought that my ideal lifestyle would include living on a Caribbean Island — open the door in the morning, get fresh juice and fruit, sit outside and read, go to the gym or a bike ride or a boat trip, come in when it’s too hot to create, make a great dinner, relax and enjoy the sunset.
And then I realized that I’d be bored stiff in about 2 weeks and I’d be claustrophobic within a month or so. My hubby was even going to apply for a job he’d been previously offered a job on a Caribbean Island but we knew we’d go stir crazy.
So I changed the location and leisure activities and the perfect location became Italy and I wasn’t retired. A few years later I changed the location again, this time to Portugal — still in wine country — but Portugal makes better sense for me now.
I’ll spare you the details of my ideal day in my ideal lifestyle but I will tell you that what I’m building with my brands, what I’m sharing with my message, how I’ve structured my life and the decisions that hubby and I are making will get us living in Portugal one day.
If your ideal day doesn’t feel right because it doesn’t align with your values, revisit your values worksheet.
If your ideal day doesn’t feel right because it doesn’t align with your purpose, (or if you aren’t sure WHAT your purpose is, check out this post.)
If your ideal day doesn’t feel right because you don’t believe it’s possible check out this post about the Quadruplets of Discontent and try to identify which one is messing with you.
Once you have revised your day and it feels right, read it out loud.
The reason why you are doing this is to check in with yourself to see how you react when you speak your dream.
Watch for places your body twitches or otherwise indicates to you that it’s not right. Watch for places where you may be saying to yourself “I don’t deserve this” or other negative thoughts. Your brain is really, really good at keeping you safe — so much so that it will play tricks on you to keep you from realizing your goals and achieving what you want. It will tell you stories that aren’t true, so pay close attention to the stories that pop up while you are doing this.
Explore the negative thoughts — what do you need to do so that you tell yourself you do deserve this and can achieve it?
Keep tweaking with the day until you can read it outloud and you believe what you have written.
Take this activity up to the highest level by reciting your day on camera.
Turn on your webcam or your phone camera or some other video recording device, look into the camera and, without looking at what you’ve written, explain your ideal day. This exercise is for your eyes only so don’t worry about how you look or sound. Remember to share the details so that if a director and actor saw the video they’d know how to re-enact your day perfectly.
When you are playing back the video look for a few things: What did you change in your story? Where did you stumble? Did you look like you believed yourself that this ideal day is possible? How do you feel while sharing this day?
The power of this activity is that it helps you understand your dreams and what is important to you. It’s also what you should be working towards, so that when you are making your day-to-day decisions now you can move towards this day.
When you finish this image of your ideal day in your ideal lifestyle exercise, you should understand what you are doing, how you are feeling and what your heart wants you to pursue at this point in your life.
The next step is to make sure it aligns with your “Wants” and your “Values” that you have already listed and then you start figuring out what you’ll need to get from where you are today to that place.
Of course, it’s not always going to work out and it may take way longer than you expect but it gives you a picture of your destination. You’ll know the picture of what your heart wants you to create. Then you’ll need to set some specific goals to start making this day come true.
10 Tips to Achieving What You Want
If you’ve done the activities to know what you want, what your values are, what your purpose is and what your ideal day in your ideal lifestyle is you are well on your way to figuring out how to get from “Here” (where you are today) to “There” (your ideal day in your ideal lifestyle).
Here are 10 tips to achieve what you want.
- Be aware of your own Quadruplets of Discontent — Which Quadruplet is the boss of your success?
- Create a vision board with the final version of your Ideal Day in Your Ideal Lifestyle story — choose images that cause an emotional response, rather than, say, an image of a car (for example, why not put a photo of you in that car!?)
- Set SMART Goals
- Use the “T”-Form to get you from Here to There. It will help you to identify what you need to Start, Stop, Increase, Decrease (and what you shouldn’t touch because it’s working for you right now)
- Make a commitment to yourself that you will do what you said you’d do — even if one of the Quadruplets tries to stop you
- Celebrate success — and not only huge successes — celebrate taking each baby step that gets you closer to your goals
- Have fun — it’s a journey that’s full of twists and turns and unseen obstacles — laugh along the way (and on those really tough days, force a smile and trick your brain out of the “whoa is me” state it’s on at that moment.)
- Seek support — no-one is an island and everyone needs support in multiple areas of their lives. Find a mentor, cry on your best friend’s shoulder, ask a family member or co-worker to share some of the load, talk to a professional if things start to feel out of control, and remember that it’s a lie that you can “have it all, be it all and do it all, all of the time”.
- Stay true to yourself — live YOUR life on Purpose, not someone else’s version of your life.
- Never compromise on the dream of your ideal day but do permit yourself to deviate from your initial plan on how you are going to get there.