Most of our lives we spend keeping up with the Jones’. Or rather, keeping up with people we perceive as respected by society’s standards: the social media influencer we follow on Instagram; our rich cousin who works ‘remote’ from a new beautiful island every month; the CFO that lives next door to us with the Tesla, the beautiful wife, the perfect kids, & the golden retriever (do c-suite execs ever get dogs that aren’t retrievers?). Our goals — let alone our view of ourselves — are contorted by the gaze of others. It’s constant, it’s exhausting, and sadly, it’s self-inflicted. To escape that comparative mindset for just a few hours in a day is freedom. That, and going to a Backstreet Boys Revival Concert WITHOUT SHAME. Also freedom.
Let’s leave other people alone for a moment, though. In fact, can we leave other people out of the rest of the freaking article and just focus on you for the next 5 minutes? That would be great.
If I were to ask you what you *really* want out of life, how would you answer? Not you in relation to other people. Just you. Your dream life. Indulge yourself for a minute. What is it that you really want? Paint a vivid watercolor of the life you desire.
Have it? Good. Your canvas, while probably more granular & specific, will have scenes that fall within these 5 categories:
All of these, together, paint a picture of abundance. Most likely, your dream life, even just parts of it, contain a combination of these five. For example, that incredible job you want would fall under significance and financial freedom. A beautiful house would fall under comfort and control. Becoming a world-famous author would touch on all five. You get the picture.
So… why don’t we have our dream life? Societal brainwashing would have us answer that it’s other people. It’s the adverse circumstances we grew up in. It’s pervasive and sinister forces working against our will. It’s ‘other people’ that hold us back. Deep down, though, this rings hallow. While adverse circumstances make things more challenging, they don’t prevent success. Real-life examples demonstrate this: Oprah Winfrey, Howard Schultz, J.K. Rowling. I could go on and on. People who grew up in abject poverty and/or the victims of abuse who maximized their life and created what they wanted. And these aren’t just exceptions to the rule, they break the rule. I’m not minimizing pain inflicted by others at our expense — it’s evil & it’s sickening. I’m merely claiming it doesn’t prevent someone from building an incredible life. There are countless people I know personally (myself included) who had freaking hard lives and are living their dream life right now.
So if it’s not other people, it has to be us. We’re holding ourselves back. Which is actually a good thing. If someone else is culpable, it means it’s not in our power to fix. We’d be destined to futility. In reality, it’s *our* problem to own and change, and as responsible, free agents, we shouldn’t want it any other way.
So how are we screwing up something so fundamentally important? Said with less sass — what exactly does personal abundance require?
The abundant life we want comes, primarily, by way of certitude. Hard work, humility, and humor are close followers.
Let’s break this down.
I recently started a new job, and in my first week, I was *metaphorically* smacked on the face with the importance of certitude as the starting point for incredible life experiences.
On my first day, I happened upon the Sr. Manager of Communications Technology — aka the video guy. Let’s call him Todd. We hit it off really well. I mentioned I did promo videos for my previous company, and offered to help with any upcoming video needs. He seemed interested and the next day invited me to participate in an initiative that Friday. I was pumped! Friday came and my new the team took me out for a welcome lunch. The waitress was very slow, and the whole ordeal took two hours — door to door. I was officially half an hour late (and very embarrassed!) to the recording session.
I dropped my purse at my desk and ran to the studio. The group of participants were assembled in a circle, receiving instructions from a gentleman with glasses. I didn’t see Todd there, but I assumed that he was present at the beginning and had since done a hand-off to the bespectacled gentleman. I introduced myself to the group and explained that Todd had invited me to participate in the video. The gentleman in glasses said, ‘You’re just in time. We’re about to go outside and start filming.’ The video initiative was about fraud protection. I ended up starring in one of the cameos as an unsuspecting woman whose phone is snatched by stealth-man-in-a-hoodie while she is chatting with her coworkers.
I returned to my desk, excited about my cameo, and noticed a generic ‘hey’ IM from Todd. I responded:
“Hey Todd! Sorry for the tardiness. The team took me out for lunch and the service was sooooo slow. Got back around 1:30 & stopped by the studio. The group was able to use me in one of the videos :)”
Todd came by, looking utterly confused, and asked what I was talking about. I re-iterated what I had said on IM.
“That…. wasn’t my video,” he said.
Now I was the one that was puzzled.
“Well, if it wasn’t your video, whose was it?” I asked.
We looked at each other, paused for about 3 seconds, and then burst into laughter as the hilarity sunk in: I invited myself to someone else’s video. The irony is practically perfect - I frauded my way into a fraud protection video. Todd’s event was actually a dress rehearsal/sound check for a meeting the following Monday. Yep. The new girl crashed a corporate video. I’m like Owen Wilson with way less hair issues.
Word of this spread throughout the office, and as I was finishing my meet and greets that afternoon, people were like ‘Oh yeah, you’re the new girl that was accidentally in the fraud protection video. Way to make a splash on your first week.’
It turns out the bespectacled gentleman’s name was Jake, as I was officially introduced to him later that afternoon. We had a good laugh about the whole thing, and then I asked him, “Why didn’t you stop me?” He looked at me, total deadpan, and said, “You seemed so certain you were in the right place. It didn’t dawn on me to question you.”
Cue: light shining down from heaven. Enter: epiphany.
My certitude was the gateway into this opportunity. It wasn’t my listening skills, my leadership aptitude, or my communication prowess (all good things, I’ll have you). My belief that I belonged there was my ticket to the experience.
Certitude is waking up on purpose. Walking into a meeting with command. Launching an initiative like you’re the best person to run it and oversee it. It’s an attitude of they are damn lucky to have me here wherever you go. Having this frame of mind, daily, is what engenders your dream life.
Certitude alone isn’t enough, though. Because sometimes you’re wrong. Terribly wrong. As I was in this example. If you double down on certitude when you’re wrong, it makes you look arrogant, unaware, and frankly silly. It is at that point when hard work, humility, and humor salvage the faux pa. I didn’t double down and blame Todd for the mix-up. I took it with humility as my own mistake. I also had the humor to laugh it off with everyone I encountered that day. Additionally, after realizing the mistake, I did the hard work of socializing my apology to the affected parties. Not to mention the *already-in-play* hard work of starting a new job in a new organization, building my credibility and respect from the ground up.
Accidentally starring in that video made me see something so clearly: I could put in the time, follow the rules, do all the “right” things, but if I didn’t have certitude I would be missing out on a whole array of incredible experiences. It also made me wonder how many amazing things I have missed out on in the past on account of my uncertainty. On account of not believing in my core that I deserve abundance and the best this world has to offer. Seriously, why do we not believe this? Why do we not believe we are worthy of every good thing? No one is perfect, so that makes it an even freaking playing field. That person you’re envying with the dream life — they are not perfect and still got their dream life. So why not you? Why not me?
I want you to picture your dream life again. That life of abundance. What if you actually believed this was in your grasp? I mean, really believed this was for YOU and not for someone else? What if you started working toward it, as if it belonged to you and you were just claiming what was rightfully yours? What would you do today to secure that reality? How about tomorrow? And as you move toward that dream life, you’ll have some starts and stops, but what if you had the humility and humor to not take things personally, learn from your mistakes, and keep moving forward? That dream life would be yours, and more assuredly set in stone than my next Costco trip (seriously, those samples though). If you have certitude, no person can stop you. Well technically they can, but like Jake, it won’t dawn on them to do so.
Speaking of Jake, I ran into him this week. The accidentally-starring-in-a-video bit has NOT gotten old. He informed me that they made a gif of the cameo. I’m the one in the red dress 😘
I can now happily cross item #87 — Being in a GIF — off my life goals list.
*looking you straight in the eye as I say this*
Don’t count yourself out of anything. Ever. And if you want something, job 1 is believing it is for you in the first place. Certitude is the path to getting everything you want, and truly, the gif(t) that keeps on giving.
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