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Break Free

I felt stuck. Frustrated. Bored. Maybe even a little scared.

I had worked so hard for so long that I lost sight of my goal. I was spinning my wheels. Maybe you know the feeling? You’re going through the motions but the motions—not your chosen direction—now define you. I had to break free, but how? The answer was my first breakthrough project.

At the time, I didn’t know what a breakthrough project was. All I knew was I needed to regain my sense of self, inspire my spirit and feel alive by taking a risk that comes with public failure. I dared to do something I’d always dreamed about: write a book. The project forced me way out of my comfort zone. I had to believe in myself, trust new people and be relentlessly determined. Many times I thought I would fail, but I didn’t give up. The experience changed my life forever.

Could you benefit from a similar experience?

The timing couldn’t be better. A new year is a time for reflection, to look where you’ve been, where you are now, where you hoped to be and where you want to go. This assessment can be unsettling. Goals remain unaccomplished. Work piles up. We’re a year older. At these moments, taking on a breakthrough project can reinvigorate your spirit and redefine your path.

A breakthrough project primarily consists of a risk of failure, a specific outcome and public accountability; a breakthrough project challenges you to push beyond your comfort zone to reassert your power to create the life you want. It jumpstarts you out of a rut, reminds you what is possible and puts you on an inspired path.

I was scared when I took on my first breakthrough project. I wasn’t a writer, but I had a message to share. Every morning I woke up, had coffee and started typing. I didn’t know what I couldn’t do, so I finished writing the book in 18 days. That was only the beginning.

I didn’t know how to get a literary agent or a publisher, so I published the book myself—leaving me $50,000 in debt and feeling even more isolated. My breakthrough happened when I was sleeping on the floor surrounded by 5,000 copies of my book: I realized I had intentionally created a new path for my life. I no longer felt stuck and alone. I felt completely alive for the first time ever. Two years later the book, Graduate to Your Perfect Job, became a national best-seller.

Your breakthrough project could be starting a business, overcoming your fear of public speaking, or running a marathon. All that’s between you and your desired outcome is taking action. Start writing your business plan. Sign up to speak at four civic groups. Put down the remote control and head to the track.

The key is to start right where you are, right now.

 You never know where your breakthrough project will take you, but I promise it will be more rewarding than looking back 10 years from now and wondering, What if I had only…. My first breakthrough project took me around the world. I met my mentors. I met three U.S. presidents. I met my wife. I found myself. The best part: I get to write a magazine column for people I care deeply about. Here’s to you, breaking through and breaking free! 

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