This article is part 1 of 4 in the blog series titled "Making Life Awesome: How to Fight Average, Live with Purpose, and Create Stuff That Matters." Read Part 2 here. I hope these articles aid, in some small way, your journey to a more awesome life.
Share with a friend if it impacts you. Enjoy.
We often get sidetracked and distracted by what other people in our life are doing. We get caught up in drama we shouldn't be caught up in, gossip we shouldn't be listening to, and bad habits that can so easily derail our future. We hang around people we shouldn't be hanging around, listen to things we shouldn't be listening to, and start things that should never be started.
But how often do we stop to think about where we are going? How often do we step back, evaluate our life, and make adjustments to the path we're on?
The answer for 98% of us: not very often (maybe never).
And this is a scary thing. If we want an awesome life - which I think most of us do - then we need to be constantly looking at where we are and where we want to go, and then making the necessary changes to the course we're on. And this means we need to stop looking at what other people are doing, because what most people are doing isn't awesome; it's average. The "A" word you don't want to hear.
Average is extremely popular. It's so popular because average is so familiar. We all know how to do average. We're great at it. 98% of the people on the planet do average. Because it's easy. But it's time to fight back against average.
"If you do what everyone else is doing, you'll end up where everyone else is going."
This is a phrase I often lean on to keep myself on the correct path. To stay the course so that I can have a great life, a life that I myself choose. A life that is not average. And I want that life for you too, more than almost anything. So fight average, and take back awesome. Keep fighting for an awesome life.
Here are four ways you can escape the curse of an average life and get back on the road to awesome.
1. Think bigger (but start small)
We've all heard "Think Bigger" before - and though it may be cliche, it's an essential ingredient of creating an awesome life. You don't often get anywhere very fun if you don't think big. But sometimes, we get caught up in the grandeur of things and forget about the here and now, the practical steps we need to take to bring the big picture to life.
So start small. Take bite-sized steps towards your dreams. Set small goals, and then when you have all that momentum of achievement on your side, you can do the big things. But start small, and start today.
Live small, and think big.
Never stop doing the small things, while at the same time dreaming the big things. The really big things.
Because one of the hard things you have to do is be comfortable with the tension. You have to be a realist and a dreamer. This means you are brutally realistic about your present - doing all the small things - and wildly unrealistic about your future - dreaming the big dreams. Don't run from the tension - it won't kill you - but embrace it.
2. Live different
Most people are average. They only know average. So when you tell them your awesome dreams, don't be surprised if they criticize or try to change you. No one pursuing a life of average was ever made fun of by other average people. There's going to be a disconnect. It's your dream not theirs. Don't be surprised if they don't understand. Be patient.
Fight to be different.
You've got to live like no one else, so you can have a life that few ever will. Which comes down to the basic question of "How bad do you want it?"
If you don't want an awesome life badly enough, you'll quit when it gets hard. When you're crawling in the dark and you can't see your hand in front of you and there's spiders. You hate spiders. Here, you'll quit if you don't want it bad enough. But if you do, you'll keep going. You'll fight your way past the spiders, past the yuck, past the pain until you see the light, the end of the tunnel.
And after you're out of the tunnel you'll say, "Dang, that was hard, but I'm so glad I kicked my fear of spiders in the butt. They're really not that bad anyways."
3. Hustle harder
The thing about success is, everybody wants it. But do we really want it? Or are we just looking for a shortcut to success? Can’t we just skip the hard work and go straight to the fun part?
You see, everybody wants to be successful, but most people don’t want to do what it takes to be successful. Everybody wants to have a great life, but almost no one is willing to do what it takes to create a great life. Most people want to be a millionaire, but we’d rather win the lottery than go through the slow, difficult steps it takes to make a million dollars. (Even though 7 out of 10 lottery winners go broke within 7 years. And nobody likes being broke.)
When it's time to get to work, most people tend to shrink back and return to the road to average.
But to truly be successful, you have to put in the work. You have to turn off House of Cards and go make something happen. Expecting success to be handed to you is naive. You need hustle.
Pave your own path. If you take the road everyone else is taking, your life will likely end up like everyone else's: average, mediocre, and very boring. Do you want a boring life? I thought not.
So start hustling. Educate yourself. Learn what it takes to be successful. Read the books. Find successful people and ask them to teach you how they did it. Success doesn't just happen. You have to be willing to put in the work to be successful.
4. Have awesome community
One of the simplest - and by simplest, I don't mean "easiest" - ways to make sure you have a shot at an awesome life, is to hang around people who are already on there way there.
So build around you a community of dreamers, of doers, of people who want more out of life. This is easier said than done, but start today if you can.
Seek out those who believe that life doesn't always have to suck, and buy them coffee. Find the ones who dare to be different, who stand out in a crowd. Make friends with these people, and do life with them. They encourage you, and you encourage them in return. Ask those who are farther ahead of you on this journey to mentor you. Stay hungry.
Life is much better with awesome community - find yours.
Footnote: I have to thank Jon Acuff for inspiring much of this message and this 4-part blog series. In writing these, I heavily leaned on my notes from reading his fantastic book Start, which I highly recommend. Buy it on Amazon here.
Practical Next Steps
Evaluate where you are right now in your life, and ask yourself this question (out loud preferably): "Am I on the path to awesome right now, or have I strayed off to the road to average?" Answer yourself honestly (out loud as well). Now write down three things you need to change in your life in order to make it great again. Remember, start small. Three things you can start working on within the next week. Email me (email@example.com) with your three things if you need someone to hold you accountable!
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