If you get really honest with yourself, can you actually imagine yourself being successful? And while we’re asking probing questions, can you clearly define what success actually means for you?
Steve Pavlina has started a series of posts on creating passive income, something I’m excited to read a lot more about. Before he gets into the practicalities of the what and the how, he wrote an excellent post about envisioning yourself at the endgame, at a point where you have the amount of passive income flowing in that changes your life. If you’ll imagine yourself at this point, what happens next?
It seems a simple enough question, but it is central to achieving success.
What form of success are you focused on currently? Landing a dream job? Leaving a horrible job to go it alone? Visiting ten countries in five years? Finishing a higher degree? Becoming financially independent? Making and celebrating a commitment with the love of your life?
Whatever your version of success is right now, the chances are that your focus in on wishing you had already achieved that success. Your day is probably filled with wistful “if only” moments. But have you ever stopped to think about what your life would look like once your vision of success has been achieved?
“Of course!” you say. But are you sure?
Let’s say that your goal, like mine, is for financial independence (i.e. never needing to work again). Once achieved, what would your life look like?
“I could do whatever I wanted, my days are free to call my own!”
While that’s true, that’s very vague. You need to be able to imagine yourself living that life. When you have a whole day of freedom in the here and now do you delight in it and use the day as an opportunity to explore those things that are most dear to you? Or do you squander the day, watching more television and checking Facebook more often than on a usual day?
If your tendency is to do the latter, then what makes you think that life would be any different when you had every day open to freedom and choice? If you can’t clearly imagine what life looks like after the attainment of your success, then it isn’t real. And if it isn’t real in your mind, then it will never be real in the here and now.
Mike, over at Lacking Ambition, is a wonderful example of how to not only achieve financial independence, but also how to clearly envision what life will be like when he’s achieved his goal (which he nearly has). His latest post gives many examples of how he will live his life and fill his days once financial independence has been achieved. It is full of motivations for why the working life could never fulfil him. What’s truly key here is that he currently incorporates many of these elements into his life now. Mike knows how he wants to live his life and what the essential elements are and he is not waiting for a future date to radically change the appearance of his life. In fact, once he has achieved financial independence, Mike will simply do more of what he loves to do now and be able to expand and deepen his interests.
If your current life doesn’t contain elements that you envision for after you’ve achieved the success, then it will continue to seem like a fantasy, and thus unachievable. If you don’t do these things now, even in some very small way, then what are the chances you’ll do them later? To achieve success you have to want it desperately, and if you are desperate enough then you will find a way to have a small piece of it now.
To achieve your success you need to be able to clearly imagine what it will look and feel like. You need to be able to sit down and map out a typical day or week for your future life. You need to imagine yourself existing in this reality as clearly as your mind can conjure up the events of the past week. With the images you must also be able to feel the associated emotions – the peace, the excitement, the energy.
Give it a try and while you’re doing so map out this next week and find ways to incorporate elements of your new life into the fabric of your current reality. Just choose a couple of elements and find 15 minutes or so for each of these throughout the week.
Instead of beginning with a plan of how to achieve the success you’re after, begin by imagining your life after you’ve achieved your goal. Start living this life in some small way now and the path to success will become clearer and easier to achieve.