In my last life I was a corporate lawyer feeling like I was living someone else's life. Once I made the decision to move on and try to make a living from my passion I did everything in my power to stay focused and keep my eye on my goals. It was not easy! It took a lot of willpower and a lot of work.
This summer marks ten years (TEN!) since I made the big leap and even though I did go back to practicing briefly (and sometimes still consult on the side) leaving my career behind to do what I love to do was the best decision ever. Lately I've been thinking a lot about success and what it means to be successful and how we all measure success differently. This year with my decision to rebrand and relaunch this site I've made a conscious effort to streamline my goals. I've made affirmations and written them down since somehow seeing my goals literally in front of me makes them that much harder to ignore and I've been thinking of these eight things that have helped me to get there.
1. Make your own rules. Follow them. Break them. Rewrite them.
One of my favorite quotes is: "Be the change you want to see in the world." When I quite my job I never imagined that I would be where I am today. In fact, a year ago I never imagined where I would be today. Life is so surprising! I still have a long way to go and I honestly don't know what's to come but back then I simply couldn't visualize any of it. I was as nervous and unsure as I was excited and eager to get started. When we make our own rules we're responsible for our own successes and failures. And making a change in the world sometimes starts simply by making a change in yourself.
2. Shut off all the noise.
Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Don't listen to haters but take note that they are every where and will always want to bring you down. This is very hard for me but I keep reminding myself that it's not my job to please everyone and it's not everyone's job to like or agree with what I'm doing.
3. Become educated.
Read everything you can. Drown yourself in information. Whatever your field or goal, take the time to learn it and read about it, go to lectures, talk to people who have been there, done that. Use your network and if you don't have one start making one. You will need it and someday they might need you.
4. Stop saying no.
Don't say "I can't." I do it all the time and then I ask myself "why can't I?" Usually there are only excuses in my way. Be engaged and be positive. If you have to remind yourself of your accomplishments to get you going, then do it. If you have to write down your goals and repeat them to yourself every day, then do it. I write personal and professional goals on post-its notes and have them on my mirror. As I achieve my goals, I take down the notes. Whatever works. Think about people who inspire you or who have had success and triumph and remind yourself that at some point in their profession or personal life they were probably feeling stressed or anxious or wanting to say "no". It's not (just) luck that leads people to success, productivity or true happiness.
5. Start doing things.
Just get your shit done. Stop talking about doing it and actually do it. The end. My energy is much better spent focusing on the things that I can and should be doing.
6. Look inside yourself.
You know what works best for you. If you always look to other people or circumstances to tell you what you need or what you should do, stop. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Be honest with yourself or it will keep you up at night -- along with the 7,890,945 other things you worry about, if you're like me. Your path is there, you just have to choose it.
7. Take your time.
Don't rush. Take your time to think things through. It took me a year to launch this website and I was starting to get sick of myself talking about it but I'm so glad I took the time to think it through properly. Celebrate your choices, be engaged in your choices and be inspired by what you're doing. For me this means being truly present with my family, not rushing through every single meal, working out longer, fully reading instead of skimming articles, taking the long way home, seeking out more opportunities for my career, writing more, taking more pictures, and painting for longer stretches.
Shut off your computer and don't look at your phone, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or anything else. The world exists in real time right in front of you. You just have to take the time to live in it.