There seem to be two answers successful folks have when it comes to the question: “Did you ever expect to have this kind of success?”
One answer is something like:
“No, this is crazy. I just got lucky. I wanted to do this ______________ and poof, it just took off…”
Or the other:
“Yes, I did know. I’ve always wanted this, always believed I’d get here, and I worked my ass off to get here.”
After years of reading books and listening to interviews about or with successful people I’m going to propose that in reality, both answers are just sort of different sides of the same coin.
I’m also going to propose that most success is the result of the following equation:
visualization/faith/belief in what you want + hard work + luck/magic/universe intervention = success
Of course, that’s super simplified and not at all thorough, but bear with me.
However, I’d also argue that the folks who answer in the first way fit into one (or more) of the following:
- They’re lying (consciously or unconsciously to us, or themselves, or both)
- They have an issue with giving themselves credit
- Or they are genuinely the exception to the rule
I mean, think about it…how many lazy ass people do you know that just fall into success? To be clear, I’m not talking about the kind of lazy-asses who have trust funds, wealthy benefactors, or who happen to already be famous for some reason. Those are automatically disqualified from this because they are also exceptions to the rules that most of the world is governed by.
Even the people who’ve had extraordinary luck usually put a lot of love and/or a super special skill into play at the right time, before their success rained down on them. For instance, we can get all uppity about how a YouTuber makes millions off her makeup tutorial videos, while we toil away at a low paying teaching job, but in all reality, she is likely successful because she’s fulfilling a unique need and putting in the hours (even if we perceive those work hours as “less important” work). Ouch, I know.
What I used to do
For most of my life I never really saw past the next year or two when it came to my career, or any real big life plans. I had plenty of “someday” ideas, but never really knew when they’d happen. Each new year, I’d make a list of goals, for things like: making more money, classes or activities for my kids, weight loss, new furniture, travel, etc. Most of these goals even felt doable, even if they were a challenge. And yet each year, like most Americans, I’d only accomplish a few of my goals (and not usually the things that mattered most to me).
Then I learned some new tools.
Over the years, I developed different tactics which helped me improve my goal-accomplishment rate. For instance, after reading Good to Great, I started setting more ambitious goals ala author Jim Collins’ Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs). The premise was that you need to set huge goals, ones that may seem impossible in order to actually be excited enough to pursue them in earnest. After reading The 4-Hour Workweek, I learned the valuable tool of Dreamlining, where essentially you select your top goals in different categories, allot resources and set deadlines. Using these tools, some of the goals I accomplished were: getting a new minivan, going on a trip to Central America with my kids, starting a new business, and more.
And yet, my goals were very short term focused. And therefore, they didn’t really build on each other to create the overall life I wanted.
That’s just ONE of the benefits of creating a written Ideal Vision for your life and career, heretofore referred to as life-career. 😉
Then there’s an Ideal Vision
There is an innate human need to feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s why we align ourselves with communities, religions, political parties, fan groups, and of course, brands. We understand what those entities value, represent, and what they stand for. And our own associations with them helps us both define and communicate our own identities.
Right there, IDENTITY is the most important reason to have a bigger, specific vision for your own life.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t ONLY want to be defined by things outside of myself. I want to be the captain of my own destiny. In fact, I think a lot of times when we see people who reach great heights of success and then have a mental breakdown, its because they never took the time to understand what it was they alone wanted for their lives in the first place.
An Ideal Vision is comprised not just of your desires for what “success” looks like to you, but it is naturally embued with your reasons for WHY you want those things. There more you honestly explore your own internal desires for what ultimate success looks like, the clearer your vision and self-identity will become.
That’s also why it’s important to revisit your Ideal Vision on a regular basis as you evolve, grow, and even achieve some of those desires. As you evolve, so does your vision, and it will continue to be more accurate and a clearer representation of you as a person.
And what’s the purpose of all of this self-knowledge?
Nothing motivates us more than knowing why the hell we care so much about doing said thing, on such a deep level that it becomes a part of who we are.
That’s when we become unstoppable in the pursuit of what matters most to us.
Suddenly, we are able to see the activities, people, jobs, habits that serve us and our vision, and those that do not. Then removing or replacing them becomes exponentially easier.
How it changed my life
So how did adopting this powerful practice change my life? Well, since I have been actively writing and revisiting/rewriting my personal vision here are a few of the things I’ve accomplished (that are building on each other to get me even close to my big dreams):
- attended the UCLA X Writers Program and became one of their Scholars,
- wrote the first draft of my entire memoir,
- served as Brand Director of a National Writing Conference,
- served as an Advisory Mentor for the Queen of England’s Young Leaders Programme,
- have been published multiple times,
- launched my online personal branding course for writers,
- spoke at ALT Summit,
- traveled to Southeast Asia,
- got the car of my dreams, etc., etc.
- most importantly, though it gave me an enduring sense of peace and motivation to keep going even when times were rough.
What about your vision?
While you may have made resolutions or goals for a new year, I encourage you to set aside some time to download my handy-dandy Ideal Vision worksheet and write down a vivid Ideal Vision for your life-career.
Then, I encourage you to take it a step further and compare the goals/intentions/resolutions you’ve already set and measure them against that Ideal Vision. Adjust accordingly.