Someone wise once told me that there are two things that make people upset: one is that they don’t get what they want, and the other is when they do get what they want.
The first reason always made complete sense to me. I could understand from my own life experience how failing to achieve a goal or expectation could lead to upset. In fact, I have experienced a few of these in my lifetime.
But, the second scenario of being upset due to getting what we want initially seemed a bit more counterintuitive. It’s not that I didn’t or don’t understand the logic. I do. In fact, the more I have had the fortune to achieve success and growth, the more I have experienced the pains of growth, change and disruption.
If I look at some of the recent breakthroughs in my life, there were moments where I experienced them as upsets. For example: “I wanted to grow and elevate my business. Now I have more and bigger engagements. But, now I feel overwhelmed because I have too much work…” “I wanted to build a powerful social media platform, so I started writing and publishing every week. Now I am getting invited to write even more and I don’t have enough time to do it….” I guess that is why they say, “be careful what you wish for.”
I am very ambitious in my life. I want to achieve great things in all aspects of my life. I want to be wealthy, successful in my field, have an extraordinary marriage and family life, and be very healthy and fit. I am committed to having it all. In fact, I believe everyone has the ability to have this kind of life if they want.
But, what I am learning is that living a life oriented around having it all comes with tolls in the form of focus and intentionality, as well as being unreasonable, working hard and doing what it takes. It’s a very empowering price to pay for those who want this type of life. But, it is not for everyone.
For those of you who are on this same path or who want to get on this path, I want to lay out a few personal thoughts and discoveries about what is needed to achieve these ambitions.
Planning – I am finding that in order to make everything work, I have to plan my life in a much more deliberate, rigorous and sometime non-conventional manner. Often this includes setting a detailed schedule that includes specific times for when I’ll wake up, eat, exercise, spend time with my family members and go to sleep. This lifestyle is not for those who like to “go with the flow” or “be spontaneous.” People think that rigorous planning precludes spontaneity. It doesn’t. In fact, it can enhance it. When I am spending time with my wife, family members or clients, I can be fully present and engaged without worrying about things I am not doing or should be doing. Planning gives me freedom.
Team – You can’t have it all alone. You need your loved ones and professional team members on board with you. First, if you don’t they’ll likely get resentful and upset at some point when you reach the inevitable areas of turbulence and your plans are not working smoothly. This will slow or hinder your ability to have it all. Second, you need their genuine alignment, enthusiasm and collaboration to be a part of creating and living the great life you are building with and for them. Otherwise what’s the point? Thirdly, there are people in our environment who have skills that are mission critical for our well-being, happiness and success. We want to make sure they are fully engaged with us in our vision and values.
Innovation – Every time I hit a wall or obstacle, typically its something like – “I have too much work and I don’t have enough time or wherewithal to do everything” – my first reaction is suffering and upset. Then I remind myself… or to be honest often my wife reminds me…that “life is good” and the problem I am experiencing is a function of success not failure. Then I quickly start thinking about “given my vision to have it all, what new practices or structures do I need to put in place to enable me to fulfill everything I am up to?” For example: I have been traveling quite intensely in the last year so I have instituted a practice of taking my young daughter to lunch once or twice every week to have personal father-daughter time. Also, I go out with my older son every weekend for coffee for a couple of hours for father-son time. Even though these activities are planned, they are so enjoyable and all of us look forward to these every week.
Courage, as well as a positive and optimistic outlook – As you can imagine, the journey of an ambitious life isn’t always smooth and things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, sometimes it seems like things are not on track or nothing is working at all. But, I have noticed that the more I stay unconditionally focused on my vision and do my best at all times, things seem to always fall into place. It is one of these mysteries that I have learned to trust and depend on. It requires stamina for a marathon, not a sprint. And this way of living requires having faith and trusting myself, my vision and the universe (call it God if you want) to be on my side, give me luck and help me fulfill my dreams. All this requires courage to stay the course and not sell out on the important things, no matter what. I listen to my internal commitment versus the external circumstances and always look at things from a positive and optimistic point of view—especially when the immediate evidence seems otherwise.