Here’s the main problem with the way that most people live their life: Instead of living the life they want, they live the life they are given.
Most of the time, we react to situations by following the path of least resistance. It makes sense that this happens. We’re only human.
When a job opportunity opens up, and we need the money, we take the job without really considering the long term. The problem is, if you repeat this behavior cycle enough times, one day you wake up wondering how you “got here” and “whose life is this that I’m living?”
To redirect your course, you need to interrupt that pattern of behavior. You can do that by asking yourself the following three questions every single day of your life. The answers to these questions will serve as your roadmap—and with it, you’re less likely to be distracted to take a wrong turn by opportunities that don’t move you closer to your goals.
Question 1: What do I want?
Have you ever honestly asked yourself that question?
I work with CEOs from all over the world, and I can tell you with confidence that less than 10 percent of them know the honest answer to that question.
This is YOUR life for crying out loud! What do you want it to look like? Where do you want to live? Who do you want to be with? What do you want to be doing every day? Do you want to build a legacy? Do you want to be creative?
Figure this out. It’s critical.
Here’s the secret: You won’t figure this out today. You might not figure it out tomorrow, or next week, or even by the end of this year. That’s OK. It isn’t even the answer that’s important, as much as the active practice of asking yourself this question.
That way, the next time a bright shiny opportunity comes your way that will require a great deal of your time, you can ask yourself, Is this really what I want? If it isn’t, you move on. If it is, then you take it by the horns and make the most of it. You’ll be armed with the most powerful tool of all: the ability to say no.
This question offers unparalleled clarity and direction.
Question 2: Who can I serve?
Here’s the secret to getting everything you want in life: Find people who are hurting, and help them. In the world of business we call this “adding value.”
I call it common sense and being a decent human being. Every successful business, every successful career and every successful organization exists only because it serves others.
Here’s how to figure out who to serve: Look at the people you love to be around. The people who energize you and fulfill you. Ask them what keeps them up at night. Ask them what hurts in their life. Ask them how you could help.
If you make a practice of doing this, asking people how you can help, you’ll discover an endless supply of opportunity to add value. It really will be limitless.
If you can take action on even a small portion of this unlimited supply of opportunity, you’ll give yourself the leverage to live whatever life you desire.
That’s a sincere and honest promise from me to you. I’ve seen it happen in the lives of countless successful individuals. I know it works.
Related: How to Make Others Feel Significant
Question 3: Why not now?
Don’t ignore asking yourself this question every single day.
Here’s why: When your brain sees a long list of “to do” items, it is asking the opposite of this question. It wants to know, “Why not tomorrow?” And because you are only human, you respond with, “Yeah, why not tomorrow?”
Some people label this procrastination.
I’ve worked with enough high-level CEOs, high achievers, and the ultra-successful to know that it’s really just your brain asking the wrong question.
Try it out for yourself right now.
You’ve just spent the past few moments thinking about the life you want to live. Then you thought about the people you might be able to serve that will allow you to live that life.
So, why not now?
If your brain spits back a list of reasons, write them down. Stick that paper on your desk and revisit it tomorrow. When you wake up in the morning, look at that piece of paper and laugh.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do to show you how silly and hurtful and useless your excuses are. Seeing them on paper, disconnected from the chatter in your brain, will prove to you that you can and should pursue your dreams.
The Five-Minute Exercise That Empowers You to Design Your Life
This didn’t take long did it?
I bet your mind is firing with ideas. Good.
Do this activity every single day. Monday through Sunday.
At first, your actions will be small. Maybe you’ll send an email to a friend to find out what’s hurting them. Or maybe you’ll find some online training that will show you how to achieve more. But over time, this simple exercise will etch away the stone and reveal the singular roadmap for your success.
It’s the most simple way I know to strategically design your dream lifestyle.
Now get out there and do it!
Tony Jeary is an author, executive coach and presentation strategist. Jeary has published more than three dozen books about making presentations and strategic effectiveness. He coaches the world's top executives from companies such as Wal-Mart, Ford, New York Life and Texaco.