When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
You don’t have to answer this to anyone but yourself. However, you should answer honestly. This doesn’t only mean that you’re honest about the present; you have to be honest about your future as well. By that I mean, what direction are you headed in life?
This isn’t meant to be a pity party exercise. It shouldn’t involve depression, self-hatred or low self-esteem. It just means you’re not fooling yourself into thinking everything is great when it isn’t. It means not hiding behind a false reality, and that you are introspective about yourself and your circumstances.
So what’s the point in going through this? Why shouldn’t you remain oblivious to the reality of your situation and live “happily”? For some people, they can keep on living that way and that works for them. If you’re visiting this site, then you probably aren’t one of them. Living in a false reality means not truly being happy and living life to its fullest potential. You can’t find true happiness without determining your likes and dislikes, and thinking about how you can fill your life with more of the likes and less of the dislikes. Being content in life isn’t the same as exploring your passions, being honest with what you love and living life on your terms. To do this, you must confront yourself.
I believe there comes a time in every person’s life that they need to take a long hard look at where they are and where they want to be. When you look in the mirror and fast forward, what do you see? A life where you are a master sailor traveling the world, living your dream? Or a life where you are an overweight pre-diabetic who hates his job but can’t quit because of your massive debts? If you see the latter, it might be time for some change.
Take some time to look in the mirror, think for a minute, and figure out what’s most important to you. Don’t worry about what other people think, this is between you and the mirror. If you love, love, love what you see in your future, then you’re done. Carry on and thanks for reading. If you don’t like what you see, pick out the top 3 things that you want to change.
Exercise more, work less, spend more time with family, pay off debts, eat better, pick up a hobby etc. Now, mull this over for a few days to really make sure these are things you want to tackle.
After you nail down your hot button items, start implementing some changes. Work slowly at first. Once you learn the basics and get good habits established you can dive in.
I think this is an exercise someone should do once every 5 years or so. Throughout one’s life things change, people change, goals and ambitions change. This is a given, and is unavoidable by all. So, just like you reallocate a stock portfolio, you should reallocate your goals and vision.
As for me — about four years ago I took a hard look and didn’t like what I saw. I just broke up with my longtime girlfriend, which turned out to be an eye opener. You see, as I started thinking about moving on and dating again, I realized I wasn’t that interesting of a person! I knew I wanted a high quality woman, and that to get that I had to become a high quality man.
I saw that I was not very fit, just really skinny. I had no real hobbies to talk about or entertain myself with. I wasn’t saving as much as I should have, and had not done anything entrepreneurial (I just talked about it a lot). My career path was decent, but I had higher aspirations for myself. Also, I was terrible with girls and saw myself having a hard time finding a good wife.
Needless to say, I made some pretty drastic life changes. I started slow by getting my motorcycle license, signing up for piano lessons, brewing my own beer and lifting weights regularly. I signed up at match.com and started talking to as many girls as I could, then from there going on dates with many of them.
All of these actions instilled me with a lot of confidence and helped propel me into more action. I got my master’s, got a new (much higher paying) job, started taking diet and exercise more seriously. And, to be frank, I got pretty damn good at talking to the ladies and the whole dating thing in general. Not so coincidentally, it was after I got really good at dating that I found my future wife.
There’s a snowball effect with this kind of stuff. Now that it’s been a few years, I’m starting another new job (that master’s really paid off) in one month. I’m married to a kick ass gal with a baby on the way. I have lots of fun hobbies to talk about and entertain myself with. I own a duplex and run this blog. I’m fairly strong and in good shape. Lastly, I’m much closer to being financially independent than what I would have been had I not made some of these changes.
I don’t say any of that to brag, but to show that some fairly minor life changes that take you outside of your current world can snowball into some really good / cool things. It all started with me taking the time to be really honest with myself and my future.
So take a few minutes to think about this for yourself. What are your goals? When you look in the mirror, what do you see yourself becoming 5, 10 or 20 years down the road? If you like where you area headed, great! If not, use this as motivation to make some changes.
Loosely define what changes need made so you can begin taking steps to get where you want to be. Going with the flow and not having everything mapped out and preplanned is awesome and I highly encourage that. However, a person needs to figure out a general direction in life.
Do you want to retire to an Italian vineyard? Do you want to raise your kids in the wilds of Alaska? Do you want to be a world class medical researcher? Do you want to live a relatively carefree life and stay close to your friends and family, but be financially independent (this one is more my style)?
Or do you just want to work your 40 hours a week and go home until you retire at 62 and die at 74, all the while remaining “pretty content” with life?
Too many people are content aging in their cubicles, then they realize that they missed out on kicking life’s ass when it’s too late. They never took the time to envision their future. This is the first step. Envision the future so you can begin to work your way towards it (or away from it!).
Get your Master’s, travel to foreign countries, work out hard, eat healthy, become a landlord, take up cool hobbies, start a business. Become the person you want to see when you look in the mirror.