Hey, I'm the Business Dad.
This week's episode is a little different. I'm hosting the show all by myself and feeling very honored to be here with you, sharing some of the things that had a real impact on my life.
We will be talking about living an intentional life, eliminating distractions, embarking on a journey to the future, and finding clarity to unlock your full potential. Who's in?
Maybe you're also interested in this: How to overcome struggles and play to win with Vincent Vandeputte – Top Mindset Hacks for Successful Entrepreneurs.
Let me be honest. Finding direction in life can be difficult. I've struggled with it, too. But then I was presented with three exercises that changed that; they changed me and my life. I want to share them with you right here.
Many years ago – I have to share with you that I'm pretty old, above 50, so probably that's very old for you, but anyway – I was sitting at my desk at home. The desk was placed under the stairs, so not really the most inspiring place. It was dark, too. It was a Saturday morning. I sat there, holding a pen with a pile of blank sheets of paper in front of me. It was probably the second or third Saturday I was sitting there.
After three weeks, I hadn't done much and made no progress apart from figuring out the title of what I was writing. The title was a sales program, and I wanted to put my experience as a good salesman into it. I had it all figured out. This was going to make me wildly successful, change my life, and turn everything for the better – or at least I thought so.
The problem was that I didn't get any further on the program. I didn't make any progress as I was sitting there. Long story short: I got distracted and never finished the program. Instead, I was busy spending a lot of time doing nothing, thinking I was doing something while finding a million reasons why I couldn't ultimately finish the program.
The smarter you are, the better your excuses are not to take action. Does this sound familiar?
Eventually, I realized that I wasn't getting anywhere, and it made me unhappy.
But then something changed.
Create the Line of Life
At a moment where I felt the most unhappy and my direction for life was blurry; someone presented me with The Line of Life. Side note, I was never told the real name, so this is what I use to refer to it.
As I explain what it is about, I want you to do this exercise with me.
- Grab a piece of paper and a pen and draw a simple line going from left to right. It's the line of your life.
- On the left side, you write 0, as in 0 years old, and on the right side, you write 90 or 95 or any age that you want to be.
- Now, divide the line from left to right into 10 years intervals, so 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, and so on. Afterward, you block the part you've already lived.
For me, that meant I had already lived about 25% of my life. I was at the beginning of my twenties, so that meant my real active life would take place between, let's say 25 and 65 years old.
What does your line look like? How much time have you already spent and how much time do you have left?
The Line of Life isn't meant to scare you, but to have you reflect on what you want to achieve, what goals you want to accomplish, whether personally or professionally.
If you're anything like me, you may realize that you've already spent quite a lot of time not focused or getting closer to achieving the goals you want. For me, it was a real wake-up call. Action was the only way forward.
Take action: get started and stop the bullshit
After realizing action as the only way forward, I made a promise to myself. First of all, I wanted to be happy, and second, the time of procrastination was over.
Thinking about doing something or imagining what life would be like if this and that led me nowhere. Similarly, it won't lead you anywhere. So, get started and stop the bullshit. That's what I told myself. Perhaps this is the gentle reminder you need right now, too?
But taking action for the sake of doing it didn't give me purpose. Remember, I said I wanted to be happy? Back then, I was looking towards a lot of my friends, family, and colleagues. Many of them were busy, working, and doing stuff, but they weren't really happy.
I wanted everything, and so should you aspire to get. It is possible.
Let your core values guide your actions
What made it possible for me was this exercise that I'll introduce you to now. I did it back then, but I still revisit it regularly, even today.
This exercise will allow yourself to think about who you really are, your values in life, and what you feel is most important in life. In the end, you'll be able to act or do things that are aligned with your core values.
Amy has talked about this previously, and I bring it up again because it's critical to your success. It's vital to achieving your goals and unlocking your full potential.
If you don't make sure that the actions you take are aligned with who you really are, you will end up feeling imbalanced. It will create negative energy, drain you, make your head move slower, and ultimately impact your ability to make sound decisions.
Therefore, if you want to be happy and find balance, taking action isn't enough. You must take action in line with who you are or who you want to be.
But Business Dad, how do I find my values? How do I define them?
You're probably asking yourself this question right now. Because that's exactly what I did when I was asked to name the five values that represented me. I couldn't right off the bat. So, if you feel the same, it's totally fine. We'll look at an exercise next that will help you identify your core values.
Embark on an imaginary journey to the future
This kind of introspection, asking yourself about your values, isn't an every-day activity that most people do. It isn't the typical conversation you have with yourself. Maybe you do this all the time, and you don't need this exercise, but if you're anything like me, this exercise may change your life – just like it changed mine.
Now, imagine that you're projected in time. This is an imaginary situation. You're about 60, maybe 65 years old. You're fit, you're healthy, you're enthusiastic, and you're sparkling. You've been invited to an event, a special occasion.
As you walk up to the venue where the occasion takes place, you realize that there's a celebration happening. Everything is decorated. You see flowers and balloons, hear music. Before you know it, guests come to greet you. Everybody is thrilled to see you. It makes you wonder what's going on. Everything seems to be centered around you. Guess what? It is. Because this special occasion is a celebration, it's your celebration. People are celebrating you.
Suddenly someone enters the stage. The music stops, and everyone's attention is now directed towards the stage. A person with a microphone speaks up, and simultaneously, everybody changes the direction of their attention, alternating between you and the speaker.
You realize that the speaker is a colleague of yours. It's someone you've been working with for a long time. He starts: “We're here today to celebrate (your name). To celebrate a remarkable life, an amazing journey, and many more incredible adventures to come. We'll use this special occasion to say a few words about (your name).”
Your colleague continues and says the most wonderful things about you. Guests applaud and congratulate you. But it isn't over yet. Another person enters the stage. It's one of your closest friends, and she does the same. She gives you compliments and describes you with the most positive words. Applauds follow, and everyone looks at you.
Now a third person appears on the stage. It's someone from your family. He continues where the previous speakers left off. He speaks highly of you and talks about what a fantastic person you are.
Wow. What an experience. As you imagine this, you should be getting a warm glow inside. At least, I get that while sitting here.
Dare to confront yourself: do you lead an imbalanced life?
Now, why am I sharing this with you?
I want you to hold on to what these people just said about you. Stop for a second to think about what they really said. It's going to be worth it, I promise.
So, grab a piece of paper and a pen. Take some time to focus on what you've just heard in your imagination. What are some of the words you would love these people to say about you?
Did they describe you as successful, someone who's loyal, never gives up, or someone who's working hard, a people person, always kind and respectful? All of these words are strong value-based compliments. Words that describe who you want to be. And who you really want to be is based on your core values.
That's why this exercise is so important. So, take some time now to write down what these people – in your imagination – said about you. You should at least have 5, 6, 7 keywords like the words I've just described.
This exercise truly helped define my life, because what I started doing – and I encourage you to do the same – was to compare my values with the actions I took or the things I was doing.
If you do that today, you may notice that there's an imbalance between your core values and actions. For instance, imagine yourself as caring, but you don't spend time with your family or close friends.
This isn't to make you feel bad, but for you to realize that the most important person in your life is YOU. You must care for you and how you lead your life to balance your core values and the actions you take day to day. The most successful people I've had the opportunity to meet or speak to follow the same pattern.
So, take the time to confront yourself with your core values and the actions you take. If you're feeling pulled down, drained from energy, or feeling stuck, revisit the list of actions you undertake daily or weekly to compare if they are aligned with your core values.
BE you, DO you, and you'll HAVE happiness
We've looked at your core value and the actions you take, but there's more to it.
I'll explain as we go along. First, you need to grab another piece of paper and a pen. We're now going to do the final exercise.
Start by drawing three concentric circles on the paper. That means you have a little circle in the middle of the page, let's say the circumference of a coin. Outside this circle, draw another, a bigger circle that's now concentric with the middle one. Finally, draw a third circle that's even bigger. Now you have three concentric circles on the paper. In the smallest circle, in the middle, you write the word BE. In the second circle, write down DO, and in the biggest circle, write down HAVE. You should have BE – DO – HAVE.
Now, why am I asking you to draw this?
Often, we're focused on the things we have and don't have. We're focused on the things that didn't go well in life, the problems we experience, the debt we have, and so on. It makes us unhappy, makes us feel down and depressed.
But what happens if you turn your focus away from the outer circle – the HAVE circle?
Take a look at some of the happiest people, and you'll find that they don't spend much energy on what they have, how big or small their car, house, or bank account is. Why is that? Their three circles are aligned. Who they are (BE) is aligned with what they do (DO), and by consistently balancing these two, you'll get the results (HAVE) that you're looking for in your life. That's how you can lead an intentional, happy life.
Again, I encourage you to do these exercises to help you stay focused on what really matters and avoid distractions. I hope they will change your life, inspire you, and motivate you daily, just like they did to me.
Do you want to listen to this podcast episode? Head to Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, and search for episode 44 of The FastForwardAmy Show. To find out more about The Business Dad head over to Instagram and follow him @businessdad. The free download that accompanies this episode is my Action Value Framework, which will help you figure out what your values are, and how to take action based on those values. Let me know what you think by tagging me in your Instagram stories.
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