Take a moment to honestly ask yourself: are you living a life that you’re excited to wake up to, every single day?
Too many of us go through life feeling like we are “supposed” to hit certain milestones: go to a great university, get a decently paying job, get married, buy a home, have kids, etc. It’s easy to get caught up in this cycle of societal expectations without fully understanding why, and when you want to make a change, the same excuses pop up: you don’t have enough money, you’re scared to give up the comforts of stability, you don’t believe you’ll succeed, or you’re afraid of what other people will think. Unclear on what you want or how to get it, you put your dreams on hold for another time.
So the real question is: what life do you want to live, and how can you be living it?
A few years ago, when I was living in New York City and working 60-hour weeks in corporate America, mindless routine was all I knew: I would wake up at 6:30 am, go to the gym, go to work, grab drinks with a friend, pass out, and do it all over again the next day.
This was my American dream, or so I believed. I couldn’t help but wonder (way too often) what was the point of hustling to take care of my basic human needs – income, stability, and a roof over my head – but ignoring my deepest, soul-aching wants: to travel the world, pursue my passion for writing, and make real human connections. And, as I looked around, I realized I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. My peers were feeling it too, yet most allowed themselves to stay stuck in their situation because they did not know what to do about it.
I hit a point where I couldn’t bear it anymore. I quit my job to do a social experiment, in which I circumnavigated the globe for a year by exclusively staying in the homes of people whom I shared a human connection with. While this was the scariest decision of my life, I quickly realized that everything I wanted was on the other side of certainty. But first, I had to take a leap of faith… despite not knowing what the outcome would be.
My vision was to design the life I always wanted (instead of the one I’d been told to live up until that point). Within a couple of years, I built a six-figure coaching business that allows me to travel the world full-time, monetize my passions, and live every day on my own terms… and help others do the same. After witnessing many other entrepreneurs achieve similar feats, I can attest that it is absolutely possible to design the life of your dreams and achieve financial, location, and time freedom–if you’re willing to work for it.
Here are three key ways to get started…
1. Set an aligned intention.
The change you wish to see in your life starts with setting an intention. Simply put, an intention is a vision for what you desire.
Identify what you want to create more of in your life right now. Next, dig deep into your heart and understand why that is. Not having an intention is like getting into a car and saying, “I want to get out of here and go somewhere better,” without having a clue of where you’d like to end up. Your intention is going to give you a destination to move towards and knowing your “why” will keep you on track despite any challenge you may face along the way. When you know what sort of change you want to make and what the driving force behind them is, you’ll get to where you want to be significantly faster and in a way that feels fulfilling to you.
To set your intention, map out what your ideal day looks like. Be as detailed as possible. What time are you waking up? What do your surroundings look like? How much time are you spending on which activities? How do you see yourself? How do others see you? What does it feel like? Compare your ideal day with your actual days, observe what’s missing and what you want to invite more of into your life.
For example, when I mapped out my ideal day before quitting my corporate job, I realized that what brought me the most joy was having ample pockets of time where I could read in the park, relax at home, or have conversations with interesting strangers… without worrying about finances. Instead, my real days consisted of long workdays behind a desk, counting pennies, and having no free time for my writing or friends. Therefore, my intention was to design a lifestyle that gave me time, financial, and location freedom so I could do all of those things.
2. Get crystal clear on what your intention looks like.
After you understand what you want, you need to gain clarity on what that literally looks like. It’s important to visualize how your intention plays out in your life, as you can’t act on a vision that feels blurry, abstract, or confusing.
Going back to the car analogy, once you set an intention for your destination, you can begin understanding and visualizing what the potential paths to get there look like.
First, get clear on what you absolutely don’t want. These are your non-negotiables. For example, mine were: I did not want to spend 10 hours per day at work, live in New York City, and spend half of my salary on rent. And, I didn’t want to feel like I was wasting my life away—I wanted my creative work to have a bigger purpose.
The next step is to think about what you do want. This doesn’t need to be as defined as what you don’t want but should still be clear enough. For example, I wanted to explore the world, write stories, and have time for genuine human connections every day. With this information, I could already understand that designing my life would require me to move around a lot, become efficient with my time so I could have more of it, and interact with others, to name some. As a result, I knew that I had to learn how to build a business that was completely remote, required less than 15-25 hours a week to run, and directly served people.
Once you get clear on what you want and what you don’t want, create a vision board (for the next three months to a year) to help you visualize your intention. Transferring your dreams onto a tangible vision board will massively help you understand how your intention would play out in your life, as well as hold you accountable to your goals.
3. Take consistent action every day.
You can imagine your intention all you want, but if you’re not actively working towards it, it cannot come to fruition. This is the part where you get in the car and start driving; where you try out different paths and see what feels good to you as you’re making your way towards your destination. As you put yourself out there and your desires begin to take form, you will witness what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to take action even when you don’t know all the steps as you can decide and adjust along the way.
This whole process can feel a bit overwhelming at first, which is why it’s important to break your big dreams down into smaller goals, and those goals into manageable everyday tasks and habits.
For example, my big picture dream was to have time, financial, and location freedom. My goals looked like: visiting ten countries by the end of the year, starting a business doing what I loved, and making time to have a meaningful conversation with at least one person every day. My tasks included: buying plane tickets, researching how to build an online business, and texting loved ones regularly. Breaking your big dreams down into manageable goals will help you fulfill your intention sooner than you thought was possible. And, you will have fun doing it because it will feel good, manageable, and aligned with your life.
When you’re intentional and strategic about going after what you want, you can create huge shifts in your life and business, discover yourself, and design your dream life in the process, all the while, enjoying every minute of the ride.
Originally published on: Forbes