Your Perfect Life
Updated: Feb 21, 2019
If you really thought about it, would you know what you want your life to look like? Your perfect life. Where would you live? How would you think? Who would you be with? What sort of work would you be doing every day, and what would that feel like?
I am not speaking here of the work that has become the synonym for “drudgery;” the work that stifles your soul, fills your days with dread, numbs your ambition, and focuses all your motivation on two things: the end of each day, and the end of each week.
No; what I am talking about here is your life’s work, your chosen work, your purpose, your passion. The thing that challenges and stimulates you, and which adds value to your life and the lives of others. What would it look like to be doing that? Do you even think it’s possible, or have you already resigned yourself to a life without it?
Do you even know what it is?
You may not. You may just feel a yearning in your mind and body toward something as yet undefined. That yearning is in all of us and we are meant to walk the path that takes us toward the fulfillment of that yearning. That is our purpose.
So the first step is to acknowledge that that exists, to sit still for a moment and say…yes…yes…there is something that is more representative of who I am than this life I have been living and this persona I have been exhibiting. What is it? You may very well not know entirely, but you have certainly seen glimmerings of it. Do you love to help people? Is it music that stirs your soul? Photography? Do you get lost in the artful beauty of manipulating equations to find glorious solutions? Do you draw, write, paint? Are you most alive when you are hiking a challenging summit, biking a long trail, training your favorite horse for the Tevis Cup? Do you love children, or teaching, or learning, or old houses, or researching the origin of medieval castles, or driving fast cars and understanding all the nuances of why they perform the way they do? Are you a leader? An expert organizer? A chef, a baker, a knitter, a spinner, a gardener, a nutritionist, a trainer, a coach, a healer?
As you’re reading this list, there is something flurrying around you—an idea, a notion. You don’t let yourself look too closely at it; you are afraid to discover that it is an impossibility for you. Or, perhaps, you are afraid to discover that it is not impossible and that, in fact, your own choices have allowed it to be pushed aside and eliminated. Choices that had reasons attached to them with names like: time-management, obligations, responsibility, reality, reasonableness, economy, difficulty, personality, weakness, logic, and so on. All those names of all those reasons will have lost their meaning utterly when you are on your death bed. Then, the fluttering butterfly of your most honest desires and wishes will still linger around your face, and you will ask yourself: why did I not pick up my net and chase it with all my might?
Why not, indeed?
If you are familiar with what it feels like to dream about some other existence, but feel hopeless to turn it into a reality, you are not alone. Many of us have fantasized about what it would be like to have a different sort of life but, day after day, week after week, year after year, we don’t do anything about it. The reasons for this failure may be as broad as the variations among human beings, but there are certain themes that continuously repeat themselves all the way across the spectrum. Let’s have a look at a few of these.
1. LACK OF PASSION. I see this in young people a lot; they believe that the way to get to the life they desire (with lots of money, a big house, and fast cars, for example) is to pinpoint the jobs in our society that include high salaries, and then focus their attention on the “correct path” to getting themselves into one of those positions. Traditionally, the careers that represented the catch-all for this sort of focus were “doctor” or “lawyer.” Do you know what it is now? Business! Students by the droves are majoring in “business” because they believe it is the fast-track ticket in modern society to living a life of affluence. Even setting aside, for now, the fact that a “business” focus is not really a focus at all (being far too general and needing, if it is to be useful, a great deal of fine-tuning and purposeful, specific, individualized tweaking and honing), the approach is completely backwards. It is necessary to approach one’s life and one’s goals not by asking “where is the money?” but by asking, “What do I love?” Where is my passion? What is my purpose? What do I enjoy doing? What makes me feel so challenged and so fulfilled that, when I am doing this thing, the hours pass like minutes? Until you find that thing, you will struggle. Why? Because perseverance over the long haul to develop the knowledge and skills to make a good business of something is hard. If you lack the passion that will keep you on task, it will be that much harder. Who would ever stick with it? And what sort of joy would they experience along the way? The end of the day. The weekend. And so we are back at square one. You have to first find your passion, and then go about creating your life. If you don’t know what it is, see item #5.
2. FEAR. “Everything we want is on the other side of fear.” (Jack Canfield). As human beings, we have this odd capacity to fear things that can’t literally “harm” us—and mainly that is because we are social creatures, and our survival is based on interdependence and cooperation with other human beings. If something causes us to be rejected or ostracized, we literally feel as if our survival is at stake. So we fear failure and rejection even though we know that these things won’t physically damage us. That is one form that fear takes. The other is, essentially, a fear of loss. If I follow my dreams, I have to put what I currently possess at risk: my job, my finances, my relationships, my comfort zone. We erroneously conclude that a bad job that is, at least, secure is better than a dream business that goes belly-up—as if a fear-based approach is the only way we can compare those two possibilities. This common tendency to focus on worst-case scenarios (thinly-veiled as “just being realistic”) is how people let fear sabotage their greatest hopes and dreams because they believe that what they could lose takes precedence over what they stand to gain. And, finally, there is that rarely-mentioned form of fear; that one that resides deep, deep down in the innermost part of our being and springs from an ancient knowledge about who we are. That fear is not a fear of failure, or a fear of harm, or a fear of loss; it is a fear of knowing on some primeval level that we wield the power to create anything we desire; that we can change ourselves, and change the world, and manifest any reality we choose…but we don’t. Marianne Williamson writes: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure,” and then she goes on to say that we are born to let our most glorious light shine—to be liberated from that fear, and to liberate others from those same fears. What if we knew that we had the power to create a perfect life for ourselves, but we made excuses to not wield that power? Wouldn’t we be afraid of that “knowing?” And so we are.
3. FIXED MINDSET. This is connected in many ways to FEAR, but it is also its own category. Henry Ford famously said: “Whether you think you can or can’t…you’re right.” We constantly limit ourselves with our own thinking—often without even knowing we’re doing it. If you believe that certain activities or masteries are outside your capacity because you weren’t born with a proclivity for them, then you fall into the category of a limited, or “fixed”, mindset. This can range from believing you can’t do math, to believing you are incapable of self-discipline. Often, we confuse “difficult” with “impossible” and won’t take on certain tasks or challenges because we tell ourselves we are incapable of accomplishing them when, really, all we need is a) the willingness to persevere through obstacles, and b) a set of strategies that will help us overcome our weaknesses with regard to the task at hand. Over and over I see this played out in the classroom with my college students: those who believe themselves unsuited to certain subjects or certain challenges will fail at achievable goals because they think they are less capable, or less intelligent than other people, while students whose most dominant characteristic is determination will work harder, ask more questions, seek out more solutions, try out more strategies, and come out on top again and again. This matters more than intelligence, personality, or natural talent. The main difference is their set of beliefs and the way they view their own potential. If you believe that you are incapable of creating a better life, I can promise you that that belief will, in and of itself, set the parameters of your potential. So, change that belief, change your mindset, and you can change your life.
4. NOT TAKING RESPONSIBILITY. What if you believed you were 100% responsible for the sort of life you live? Think about that for a moment. You are not responsible for everything in your life: the way your parents raised you, the country you were born into, the fact that kids bullied you in school—but you are responsible for all your thoughts, and all your actions. What you think and what you do add up to the life you have created, and those things are unequivocally your responsibility. It is not your circumstances that determine your life or its possibilities, it is how you interpret those circumstances, and what you believe they mean or represent for you. Have you ever heard of Nick Vujicic? Go look him up if you still think your circumstances create your reality. Making excuses for your situation, or blaming someone or something else relieves you of personal responsibility, but it also turns you into a victim. Once you embrace the notion that you “can’t help” where you’re at, you have let go of the reins of your life, you have ceased guiding your own ship. If that is not an image that resonates positively with you, then it is your responsibility to do something about it. If you really believed your life was up to you, you would do things differently, wouldn’t you? Well, it is.
5. LACK OF SELF-KNOWLEDGE. Is it possible to live your life in your own body, hooked up to your own consciousness, and still not know yourself? Yes, of course. In fact, even the “you” you think you know may not be your authentic self at all and, believe me, it is your authentic self you want to come to know. You may have told yourself all your life about your alter-ego—how fat, dumb, lazy, angry, untalented, unappreciated, or disadvantaged he/she is—which has nothing at all to do with the person you truly are. Every one of us in possession of gifts, talents, passions, and ambitions that represent pieces of all the best things humanity has to offer. We all possess them even if, on an individual basis, they are buried beneath self-loathing or self-sabotage. It is our sacred duty to unearth our unique treasures and share them with the rest of the world. It is impossible for your to create your best life if you have no idea what that would look like. If you do not know what you enjoy doing, if are not aware of your strengths, if you have never discovered your passion, you can certainly not know what your purpose is, and you cannot know, therefore, which direction to take on the path to your best life. So gaining that knowledge is imperative.
This is not an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be. It is a starting point; a place to begin the thought-process. You must go after the thing that matters the most. You must do it now because the perfect time will never arrive. You can start as small as you like. You can start by clearing your consciousness of excuses and saying to your dream, "all right, then; let me have a closer look at you.” Don’t worry about getting it right; just worry about taking a step in the right direction. You can start very simply; you can start by reviewing this list and asking yourself honestly if any of these things are slowing you down.
When you acknowledge the honest truth of your deepest desires and most passionate ambitions, you will ignite the spark that allows an embryonic heart to begin beating. From this initial act you can create, layer upon layer, the image of your fondest dreams. Don’t wait another day to acknowledge these things. Your best, most authentic life is waiting.