A lot of people have a deep itch to be more than what they are. In fact, it’s human nature.
But so few people actually rise above their self-imposed crap and start living a life that serves more than just their temporary desires.
It’s not that you are capable of having a permanent impact on the world, it is that you are meant to, and in fact, you are doing so without realizing it. Every interaction you have with someone matters. We are all strings of a web and when one moves, it’s felt by everyone.
Demanding that life be better than how it is now is not only in your highest service, it’s in everyone’s.
1. Deal with your crap.
Your problems are endless energy drains that aren’t giving you an appreciating return. It is a bad way to invest your power.
All of the time you are spending thinking through made up issues is only creating more worry and distraction. Nobody that had any kind of impact on the world sat around idling like this forever. They invested energy like money: you don’t want to go broke on something that won’t give you a compounding return. If you keep throwing your whole paycheck into a stock that’s corrupt, of course you’re going to be struggling to get by.
You need to fix yourself first. Your life is on pause when you’re constantly treading water. Figure out how you can heal yourself, and then offer whatever it is that you reap to anyone and everyone else.
2. Don’t worry about your “purpose.”
You don’t have to figure out what you’re “supposed to do with your life” and have it solidified into a 30 second elevator speech before you’ll start making your impact.
You do not have just one reason to be alive. Your purpose shifts each day, each hour. You’re doing what you’re “meant” to be doing right now. You don’t need to know your purpose in order to be living it out, you just won’t have an idea about your worth that soothes your ego.
3. Don’t strive to be the wisest one in the room.
The person who thinks they are the wisest in the room is not the person who makes the most impact, they are the one who has the most ego.
A lot of people think that to be the smartest and most effective is to be the person who best imposes their opinions as “correct.” It is the person who has the hottest take, makes the last remark, shuts down some form of ignorance, inspires the most fear.
The wisest person in the room is the one who asks more questions than they make statements. They are the ones that acknowledge naive realism, and that everyone is coming to the table with an opinion that seems self-evidently true. They are infinitely open-minded. There is always something to learn, and everyone is a teacher. The wisest leaders guide people to discovering what they already know.
4. Ask yourself every morning: “What can I do today to change my life forever?”
I ask myself this every day, and then I write a list.
I could reach out to this person, or I could finally arrange the guest room the way I want it to, or I could write another few pages of the next book, or I could finish the work I need to do.
These things change my life irrevocably – I work on recreating a friendship, opening a door to guests, starting a new project, finishing those that are begun. What you must realize is that changing your life for the better changes everyone’s lives for the better.
You must start here.
5. Decide what you can live without.
I could live out of a suitcase happily. I have, and would again. I left New York when I was 21 and never looked back. I don’t need a new car. I don’t need to be “in style.” Knowing what I can live without is the most empowering thing I have ever afforded myself. Because of this, my time and money can go toward things that matter. I’m not scrambling, trying to scratch the itch that is trying to fit in, because that is one that will never go away.
I’m not saying give up on the things that make you who you are. I’m saying figure out what you can live without, and what you can’t. In doing so, you create space in your life. You create opportunity. You open up hours of your days for possibility. You are no longer desperately trying to impress people, you’ve humbly accepted your humanness. Now, the real work can begin.
6. Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.
The life in which you are fulfilling your highest purpose of helping others and creating lasting change is not in another dimension, country or year, it’s right here and now.
Start with the advantages already in your corner. Use the gifts that are already yours. Start with the people who are closest to you. Show them unconditional kindness. Be the voice of reason who breaks the argument, who says “let’s not talk about so-and-so when they aren’t around” who goes out of their way to make someone else feel good.
Make something out of nothing. This is where the seeds are planted.
7. Treat every person like they have something to teach you.
The best way to humble yourself is to remember that every book that’s inspired you, every lesson that you’ve learned, every piece of art or music that you’ve enjoyed, everything that you own and that you use originated in a human mind. Everything that you’ve ever become is the result of what other people have done.
Treat everyone as though they have something to each you, because they do. This is how you grow. This is how you stop those upward and downward social comparisons that are ruining your life and sense of self.
8. Be better than other people.
Strive to be better than others, always. There is such an oddly negative connotation to this phrase. Being better than other people is not issuing a moral judgment on their inherent worth, it’s an evaluation of what behaviors are more beneficial to yourself and those around you.
Look around at all of the hateful, victim-playing, war-starting, judgmental and closed minded people that exist and make it your every intention to be better than that. Maybe one day, they’ll come around too.
9. Take your 20s seriously.
You don’t have off time. You don’t have years you get to throw away.
Wasting your time like this comes from the assumption that you will live a long life, which you don’t know for sure. It also disregards the fact that to live the life you want, you need to be preparing for it. Your life is the reflection of your daily habits and choices, if you are not honing and working on them diligently, you are not going to be able to wake up one day and just decide you want something else and then have it.
10. Purge regularly.
You will conform to your surroundings. Everybody does. The things you see each day, the people you spend time with, the items you interact with are having a powerful, albeit subconscious, impact on your life.
The essence of life is movement, and fluidity. This is why water is so soothing, why we sage a room (the smoke moves energy around). This is why zen spaces are cleared out, why people who are accomplished keep small social circles. Your potential is infinite, but your energy is limited. Decide what you’re going to spend it on now.
11. Immunize yourself.
A lot of people say that they have to “avoid negativity” or that they need to “get toxic people out of their life” or that they “just can’t stand to be around some people.”
What they don’t realize is that people love in others what they love in themselves, they hate in others what they can’t see in themselves. Something about this person or situation is giving rise to something within you, and you need to recognize that.
Because the way to have a permanent impact on the world is to dive right into the belly of that negativity. It is to patch your wounds so that you are not infected by it.
Being a positive person is not how well you avoid negativity, it is how well you deal with it. Immunizing yourself is the ability to be surrounded by it, and to not succumb.
12. Focus on what you have to give, not what you have to get.
A lot of people say they “want to do what they love” because they are lazy. They want to take the easy way out. That is precisely why so few people do what they claim to “love,” because when the actual work of what they think they “love” starts coming up, all of a sudden they realize they liked the idea of it, not the actual doing of it.
You will not always be happy doing what you think you love to do. Work is still work. A job is still a job. Effort must be exerted to sustain it. Sometimes you’re tired. Sometimes it feels like too much.
But when you’re focused on the bigger picture – what you’re creating for yourself and for other people – in that you will find love. And that is the kind of focus that will power you through the hard moments. You don’t actually want to take the safe lane, and you’ll realize this when you get there.
13. Start now.
Start with your partner, start with today, start with every person you see.
Reconcile the war within your mind, and let it be the start of realigning your energy and where it goes in this life and on this Earth.
You will change the world with what you do every day.