When you want to make a big change in your life you will have no shortage of advice about how to go about doing it.
Heck, even I’m going to share lots of advice with you!
I do have one very important piece of advice in particular I want to share with you now. Actually, it just might be the most important thing I ever tell you.
Do what works for you.
My goal for you on this journey of lifestyle design is to live up to your own ideals, not the ideals of others. I want you to put your own take on the advice you receive from others.
I want you to work in alignment with who you really are. That’s what I believe lifestyle design is all about.
What works for one person may not work for another and vice versa. We are all unique individuals with our own eclectic mix of values, motivations, needs, emotions, fears, strengths, talents, personality traits, habits and purpose.
Be Inspired By Success, Don’t Copy It
When you are trying to figure out the next step in your life, it’s perfectly natural to seek out models of success to emulate. It’s as good as any place to start when you are still struggling to find your purpose.
You might think of a famous person you admire and how they achieved their success. It provides a tangible ideal of the results, values and approaches you want for yourself, but struggle to put into words.
On the surface this can be a valuable exercise, but has the potential for becoming a dangerous trap by creating unrealistic expectations in 2 key ways:
1) People often want the results of someone else’s success, but rarely dig deeper to learn how that success was created.
We end up believing their success is due to superhuman abilities or genius inaccessible to us, so we feel we can never achieve what they have achieved. We don’t even try.
2) Those that do take the time to research the “how” behind the success often try to copy the exact formula.
People often believe the best way to achieve success is to mimic the same process, behaviors and habits of the successful person they admire.
Playing copycat generally results in frustration because we are trying to be someone we are not. We are trying to live up to someone else’s standards, ideals and abilities instead of our own. We are denying ourselves the opportunity to find our own unique formula for success.
Experiment with the habits of successful people you admire. See what works for you and what doesn’t. Make them your own. You’ll discover habits that make you uniquely productive.
Create a practice of self-awareness and a habit of experimentation to discover your own path to success.
Be inspired by success, but don’t try to emulate it. Copying someone else’s path to success might seem easier, but it ends up being the harder way because you aren’t working in alignment with who you really are.
Seek Your Own Validation
If something doesn’t work for everyone else, but it’s working for you, keep doing it! Be guided by the results of your actions, don’t just follow the crowd.
We often seek validation from others because we are subconsciously seeking social acceptance. We can certainly learn from others, but we need to put that knowledge in the context of our needs and abilities.
You might get made fun of for your unconventional approach, but that could also be the secret formula for your version of success.
Have more trust in your gut!
You Are a Data Point of One
There are endless stories, studies and research telling us the “best way” to live our lives. They can be useful tools for making decisions about our health, our finances, our relationships, etc. They have the potential to save us time and to help us make more informed decisions.
They provide valuable insights, context and direction, but their results may not always apply to your unique circumstance. Their data generally highlights the “average results” of the subject being studied.
Your most important source of data is the results of your self-experimentation. Don’t take someone else’s word for anything. Try it and know it for yourself.
Research that is widely accepted generally requires large sample sizes to yield more accurate results. In the eyes of researchers, your single perspective is meaningless. You are a data point of one.
From your perspective your “data point of one” is the research that will have the most relevant impact on your life.
Don’t make assumptions. Question everything. Never stop asking, “Why” or “How”?
When someone gives you a piece of advice, don’t just take their word for it. Test their advice through self-experimentation, but don’t just take it at face value.
Question everything in the context of finding out what truly works for you and not just what works for other people.
One Common Trait of All Success
I’ve read hundreds of historical biographies and interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs in my life. I’ve learned lots of different ways people have become successful.
However, there is just one common trait that is core to the success of all the lives I have researched: they chose to be themselves and no one else.
They found the courage to accept themselves. They made peace with themselves. They made the best of their natural talents and available opportunities. They focused on what they had, instead of what they didn’t have. It made them grow and expand their lives.
As you may know, one of the toughest challenges in life is accepting ourselves. It’s even harder in our modern world as marketing messages relentlessly tell us we “aren’t good enough” or could be better.
We spend most of our thoughts wishing we could change any number of aspects about ourselves.
The truth is we already have lots of great stuff to build upon within ourselves. We just need to discover it, commit to it and develop it.
I don’t think we really admire people who are successful for their money, fame and special accomplishments. We admire them because they are comfortable in their own skin. We want that too.
Lasting success comes from being yourself. There has never been and there will never be another person like you on this earth.
You have a monopoly over your abilities, motivations, values, experiences and abilities that make you a unique individual. You are a scarce and valuable resource with unique potential. We each have the opportunity to author our own version of success. Only you are the expert of you.
It’s possible. Be yourself. Don’t copy someone else’s story, share your own. It’s never been told before.
Do what works for you!