Prepare to do things differently
I had a very long article written on how to get started making a difference. Then I looked at it and deleted every word of it. In total, about 4 hours of content was removed. I realized that it was nothing more than a long drawn out list of things to do. Stuff you can get anywhere on the Internet or in a book somewhere. That’s not making a difference in my opinion. So I’m starting with another approach.
An honest assessment
The very first thing to do for making a difference is to look at your situation. Assess it like an airplane flying over a field and surveying the area. Tony Robbins shares some good advice. A leader looks at things as they are. They don’t make them worse than they are in order to feel significant or to create drama. They start with where they are. Then they see the situation as better than it is in order to create a pathway to something greater. This is like building a bridge to get somewhere. That is what I will attempt to do here with myself. I’ll tell my life like a story with successes, failures, and those in-between. By doing this, my hope is you will be able to do this very same assessment in your life.
I’m 32 right now. I’m reasonably healthy. I’ve been married almost 10 years. My marriage is pretty good. I have 2 wonderful children, a house, and a job as a web developer. I don’t have quite as much money invested or saved at this point as I would like. I find myself struggling at times as I learn more and see ways the company I work for could improve. I see the variety of personalities and wonder if I’ll be able to make a difference there. I waste time occasionally. I’ll play a game of Starcraft 2 just because it’s there. I’m doing better at reading – in fact, I’m reading a book a week now and it is becoming a habit.
I’ve had some failures. I was very shy and timid for most of my life. I created a site using the domain name www.computergamesnow.com in 2004. I used a dropshipper to sell computer games and other software. I was using Google PPC to drive traffic. Just when it started to all click, I got scared of the work that might be required and ended the project. The domain is now owned by someone else. I’ve had a nasty kidney stone and lower back surgery. I’ve been fired from two jobs (one at Burger King, one doing library data entry).
I’ve had some successes. I completed the P90X workout program. I married a wonderful woman. I completed a Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. I have a pretty good job that pays well. I’ve managed to create a few websites and earn about $40 a month on them.
This is as close to my life as I can think of objectively. I’m not making my life events worse – or better than they are at this point.
- Take the company I work for during the day, for instance. I’m not saying, “People there just don’t get it. There’s no point in trying to talk to them.” That would make it worse than it is.
- For investing/saving, I’m not saying, “I’ve had over 10 years and have squat to show for it.” That is worse than it actually is.
- I play computer games too much sometimes. But I’m not saying, “I’m friggin’ addicted. I’ll never be able to get anything done.”
- If you are broke, simply say you are broke. Don’t say, “I’m broke and never going to make it.”
- If you are overweight say, “I’m plump.” But don’t try and lie about it either. Don’t say, “I’m bigged boned” or “It’s just genetics.” Be real. But don’t dramatize it either.
Once you tell your story in a few paragraphs, we can expand and categorize what you’ve said into the areas of life they fit. I will do this now.
Health: I’m fairly healthy. I workout a few times a week. I’m taking Shakeology and multivitamins as a nutritional supplement. But I also go out to eat more than I should. I struggle with feeling refreshed after I wake up. I also overeat at meals more frequently than I should.
Financial: I make a decent salary at my day job. I have 6 months of savings and started investing about a year and a half ago. I don’t quite have the money I’d like, but I’m doing better than I had the previous 10 years.
Spiritual: I’d like to make a connection to my creator. If there is infinite intelligence to communicate with, I want to do so. But right now I’m not at that level.
Relationships: I have a good relationship with my wife. We’ve got great kids. We don’t go on our dates as much as we could. Sometimes our kids don’t get enough attention either.
Personal: I feel like I’ve made good progress, especially reading a book a week. I’m focusing on personal growth and development. But I feel I’m far from being in a position to educate and influence people. There’s no real reason for people to listen to me over someone who is well known.
Career: My job is not bad. I got promoted recently and feel like I have an opportunity to bring people together. But I face the challenge of trying to create efficiency and overcome the many personalities that often prevent work from being done.
Now that everything is categorized, you have a quick and easy way to glance at your current life. This is important. It’s like having a GPS unit with you to know where you are. But this only works if you are completely honest with yourself. If you tend to bend the truth to avoid the realities of life, you are wasting your time here. If you live pay check to pay check, don’t lie to yourself and say, “Oh, we’re fine, money is not an issue.” That’s the same as the Emperor who walks naked in the streets thinking he has clothes on.
Make it better than it is
The difference now will be making your life better than it is. This vision is a key ingredient. It’s like the baking soda (used in the right amount) for a cake. To get started making a difference for others, you must make a difference in your own life. The difference is creating a better life for yourself. To do that, we take the same categories and word each scenario of life in a bigger, brighter, happier, and just plain more awesome way. Think of it like your favorite smart phone. Now take that same phone and give it triple the power, features, and usability. This is what happens to my life when I do that.
Health: I’m fit as a fiddle. I’m cut, like L.L. Cool J. I regularly workout and it fuels me with the energy I need. I take all the nutritional supplements I need. The majority of the time, I’m eating green fruits and vegetables that strengthen my body. I only eat reasonable portions of food and never over-eat. I’ve never been healthier in my life.
Financial: My finances are completely abundant. I make a hefty salary at my day job. I have a years worth of savings and my investments continue to accelerate rapidly. I have more money than my family needs to do all that they want and I’m ready to start making a greater difference with large scale contributions.
Spiritual: My wife and I are spiritually connected. Each of us are eternally bound and are bond is strong. I feel a connection to my creator and tap into his power daily. He guides me with power I would not have otherwise.
Relationships: My wife and I regularly talk and date. We feel even better than when we were dating. Our kids continue to flourish and our family gatherings are a welcome change of pace from our other wonderful responsibilities.
Personal: I’ve read over 500 personal development books in just about every subject available. By reading a book a week (or more), I’ve created a foundation that is making me qualified to share wisdom and insights on a large scale. People listen to me because I have the knowledge and the ability to produce positive results. I’ve written several successful books and succeeded at my day job. These two things have caused my websites to flourish and I make enough that I could quit my day job and then some.
Career: My day job is flourishing. That combined with my successful website provide a thriving career. At work, I’ve found a way to reach individuals to utilize their ability to the maximum potential. I’ve moved up several positions and have regular meetings with the CEO and CTO. My influence is a key factor in the success and growth of the company.
The better picture
It may take some time to see your life better than it is. It helps to think of your life as a movie. Create brightness, happiness, success, and excitement with what you are doing. Picture yourself sitting down and watching your life. See yourself making the deal. See your relationship flourishing. See it as a movie where the story just keeps getting better and better. There are no limits here – just your own imagination and the way your life could be. The key here is you must choose to see your life better than it is. If you find yourself not able to see it any better, then word it like this, “What if my life could be this way?”
My next step (and yours) is to take the good life we’ve created from what we currently have and get very clear on what specifically we want and the necessary actions needed to get there. For instance, I must read hundreds of more books, keep myself constantly engaged and focused, attend seminars, hire help, and a host more things to get my life to the “better than it is” point I outlined above. I believe it’s possible. Next time I’ll go into the specifics of making it happen. I feel like I know what it takes and therefore will be able to outline it.
Until next time, keep making a difference.