The Incomplete Story of Living Your Dreams: Part Two

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This is part two of a three part series on how you can live your dreams by answering some not so simple questions about yourself. If you missed part one of this series—answering the question “who am I?”—turn around and go back to the beginning. Your future self will thank you.

Now that you’ve gone through the paradoxically painstaking yet euphoric process of answering the question “who am I,” you have come at a crossroads. You’re thriving off the momentum you’ve built up for yourself, but fear is starting to creep back in because now you’re wondering, “what’s next?”

Have no fear—you’re going to keep the momentum going.

The early mornings will continue, and if you can commit every ounce of your being to this process (that whole living your dreams thing), the early mornings will be your new normal.

The next stage in the process is finding your “why.” If you thought figuring out who you are was difficult, you better strap your brain in for this one because it’s going to want to get the hell out of dodge.

Finding your why is about living a life without regret. It’s about knowing when that last breath leaves your petered lungs, you’re going out with a smile on your face.

I’m not going to sugar coat this because at the end of the day, if you feel comfortable going through these first two questions, you have without a doubt come up with the wrong answers. Then, when things crash and burn rather quickly, you’re going to come running back to me with your complaints.

I don’t want that for you and I definitely don’t want that for me. So, once again, before we move on, are you confident you have the complete, unfiltered answer to who you are?

Good, let’s begin the second stage.

What’s My Why?

Before you attempt to answer this question, there’s probably another one that comes to mind first—what does this question even mean?

This is not to assume you’re ignorant. Rather, I’m assuming you haven’t spent a great deal of time exploring the personal development world. Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have much interest in this story.

Also, when I began my journey of self-discovery, I had no idea what this question meant. I kept hearing that I needed to “find my why” to have direction in my life, but I was never given a proper introduction to the phrase. I would scream at the computer screen, “give me some context!!!”

I don’t want you to experience the same frustration, so I’m going to give you some context.

Finding your why is more than pursuing project A or project B. Just as you experienced after figuring out who you are, once an attainable goal is reached, there’s nothing there to keep the momentum going unless there's a bigger ambition operating in the background.

Without a why, you start to get comfortable, relishing on past success and failing to move on to something else. Or, you simply start the same cycle over as if it’s something new, but the reality is you’re only doing what you know will keep failure from rearing its ugly head.

Just imagining that (life on repeat) as your reality should rile you up.

Failure should never be viewed as “ugly” or as something to avoid at all cost. Failure is where we make some of our biggest strides in life. As a matter of fact, failure will encompass nearly all of the next stage of this process, so check yourself if this scares you.

Ok, back to establishing some context. Finding your why is about living a life without regret. It’s about knowing when that last breath leaves your petered lungs, you’re going out with a smile on your face.

Finding your why means to travel through life knowing you’re living it to the fullest. You greet obstacles with a warm welcome. You light up every room you walk into via the unknown energy that is bursting from your body. You will make people constantly ask themselves, “what does he or she know that I don’t?”

I’m not trying to oversell things here. I’m just going off the transformation I personally know to be true.

Let’s get a little more concrete with the direction your why might take you.

Let’s say you have an undying passion for the pursuit of knowledge. You want to spend every day learning as much as you can about the world within and around you. The problem you see in this approach is there aren’t any careers that “fit” this learning mentality.

To that I say, “au contraire, mon frère.” As an education leader by the name of Jim Rickabaugh perfectly put it, “If you hire me for my ability to do a task, I’m a liability in five years. If you hire me for my ability to learn, I’m an asset [that keeps on growing].”

I added those last four words to emphasize why a growth mindset is an asset. In this scenario, you have to ask yourself, are you looking for short-term security or long-term stability? And, would you rather work in an environment that embraces the pursuit of knowledge or one that wants you to remain fixed, performing a single task as efficiently as possible?

Yes, those are leading questions, but I’m not here to be all that objective at the moment.

He had a different idea of success, and after he talked it out with a third-party, he realized all he wanted to do was make ice cream.

Ok, how about another example?

Maybe you’re the kind of person that will come out of this exercise of finding your why with the realization that you know exactly what you want out of life. You’ve drilled things down to an incredibly specific desire and see nothing else that will satisfy you.

Let’s say you want to be the hero who cures cancer. You want to hold the keys to the finest research facility in the world and find yourself accepting the Nobel Prize in Medicine in Stockholm. I think you found your why. Heck, even I might have to reevaluate my why after typing that out.

As one final example to capture the essence of what kind of mental freedom this practice produces, here’s a great story I was recently told about a Washington, DC lobbyist.

This individual was part of a family dynasty of Harvard lawyers and substantial wealth. He went on the same path as the generations before him, got his law degree, made a pretty penny advocating for who knows what on Capitol Hill, and had a clear path forward.

But, he wasn’t satisfied. The glitz and glamour of holding a prestigious degree and making great money left him feeling empty. He had a different idea of success, and after he talked it out with a third-party, he realized all he wanted to do was make ice cream.

I’m not even kidding, this is a real story, and I find it pretty inspiring. This man had a passion for finding ways to make eclectic flavors and working with local farmers to find the best ingredients possible.

In the end, I’d venture to guess he wanted nothing more than to put smiles on people’s faces every day. This was his why. He may consciously think his why is making ice cream, but subconsciously, there’s always something rawer driving us forward.

This feeling, this raw expression of bliss or determination or inspiration, is the essence of your “why.”

What better way to make people smile than to make ice cream? Who has a frown on their face while eating ice cream? By the way, the man opened up an ice cream joint and is now selling his product in Whole Foods stores. No big deal.

So, what’s your why?

In order to get this really flushed out, I’m going to guide you through three steps that will open your creative mind to passions you never knew were inside you.

BONUS: If you want to take things to the next level before proceeding, check out how you can create a personal vision to really hone in on your future pursuits: Part 1 and Part 2

Step 1: close your eyes and visualize, but read this first

Take a step two decades into the future. If life has gone just the way you imagine it could, what are you committing yourself to? What gets you out of bed in the morning with a smile on your face? What provides you with financial and emotional freedom?

Go crazy! I’m asking you to dream here. I’ve freely provided you with a blank canvas and all of the colors in the world to paint the exact picture that would make your life a dream come true.

Open your eyes. How do you feel?

The feeling isn’t what’s unrealistic. What’s unrealistic is thinking you can chase this feeling without changing your habits.

Capture this feeling on paper. If you can’t find the exact words that express your feelings, check a thesaurus. This feeling, this raw expression of bliss or determination or inspiration, is the essence of your “why.”

The particular actions you were taking, people you were surrounded by, places you were going are not what’s important at this stage. You’re here to go beyond the 3D world we live in and capture the indescribable feeling that will guide you in it.

Every action you take from this day forth should be evaluated based on its ability to produce this feeling.

Step 2: trust this feeling, not your habits

The second life throws a wrench at you, you’ll be tempted to shrug all of this off as an unrealistic fantasy. With that thought, I ask you to trust this feeling you just discovered. Trust that it’s always flickering inside you, waiting to ignite and become self-sustaining.

In the beginning, this feeling will be quite noticeable. It’s no different than any new experience you choose to partake in.

When you try a new habit on for size, it doesn't feel like “work” at first, but over time, as life “gets in the way,” that task feels like an unnecessary burden. You want to keep at it, but are too disappointed when you don’t meet your goals, so it’s easier to just let it go altogether.

You can either see this misalignment as excuse enough to get back to the way you've been handling life thus far, or you can take action and transform.

This same peak and valley is likely to pan out with your why. You just discovered it and you want to play with it for a while, but you haven’t adjusted any of your daily habits. So, it becomes an annoyance and you are ready to quickly right it off as unrealistic.

The feeling isn’t what’s unrealistic. What’s unrealistic is thinking you can chase this feeling without changing your habits. There’s a reason you’ve never felt this feeling before, and that’s because the daily actions you take don’t invite it to take center stage.

Remember, the feeling isn’t wrong, your habits are.

Step 3: does your why match who you are?

Once you’ve locked in your why and honestly assessed your current habits, you need to compare it to how you answered, “who am I?”

Like I mentioned at the end of part one of this story, who you are in this moment is not likely going to be who you wish your future self to be. This becomes transparent when you assess your why and how nothing (or very little) you're doing today is conjuring up this feeling.

You can either see this misalignment as excuse enough to get back to the way you've been handling life thus far, or you can take action and transform.

Find the success in failure and you will grow exponentially. 

To provide a personal example, I define myself as someone who is not controlled by money or material items. I'm driven by being of quiet service to others and find joy in working on a granular level (one-to-one relationships).

When I determined my why, I was in a bit of a conflict. My deep desire to be fully autonomous in all things—self-employed; freely sharing my thoughts as a writer, speaker, and consultant; achieving financial and emotional freedom; and developing the ability to move freely in a physical sense—made me realize how many of my daily habits were preventing me from realizing this freedom.

I was horribly inconsistent in my writing practice, I wasn't taking any steps to become a better speaker, I still struggle with my emotional well-being, and my habits in the fitness realm were sporadic at best. All of these negatives were super daunting to take all in at once.

To be honest, I was incredibly close to throwing it all away because it just seemed too unrealistic. But, then I realized something very important: find the success in failure and you will grow exponentially.

This leads us into the final part of this incomplete story, so go find your why and when you come back, the final chapter (that has been written so far) will be revealed.

On the go? Download The Incomplete Story of Living Your Dreams Ebook for FREE!


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