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I talk a lot about integrity in helping people to establish themselves in business, and for good reason. One of the main things that led me down a very dark path and almost took my life, was living without it. That realization, along with many others, helped me develop these four steps to change anything (and I do mean anything).
I had gotten so wrapped up in being a millionaire above all else, that I had stopped living in integrity with myself and why I wanted to do that. “Because I can” isn’t a reason to do anything, and more toxic is, “to prove to everyone that I can.”
It was that last one, especially, that led me to build and lose two multi-million dollar fortunes by my mid-twenties. I ultimately had myself convinced that I had nothing left to live for, except more failure.
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But I was wrong!
If my story can be an example to teach you anything, it’s that there is purpose to your life. Any darkness or sorrow that you might be experiencing right now, is part of what is going to make you valuable to the world.
Now, all that highfalutin, “climb the mountain and tame the beast” talk is great, but the rubber has to meet the road sometime. You have to dream, but dream with your eyes open.
I’m a big fan of mindfulness, but it’s only of any use in service of taking better actions. You can meditate, pray and spend time on an ethereal plane convening with the space elves all you want. But unless you use that to inform your actions back here in the real world: You cannot experience any real-world benefits from it. So, to that end, here are my four steps to change anything. These are about going beyond intention and creating lasting change in any area of your life:
Acceptance is about taking an audit of how things are and then accepting them, wholesale and without judgment.
You can’t set a course for new lands without first knowing where you are. But more than that, you need to know exactly where you are. Looking at your current situation through a fog of judgment and regret is no good.
Subjectivity be damned! You need to know where you are and then accept it. For better or worse, you are where you are because of the choices you’ve made. And I’m pretty sure that the vast majority have been made in good faith, in the moment. Nevertheless, new experiences require new choices.
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The present moment is all that’s real. We can’t create a new future from the past, and we certainly can’t do it in the future. It’s all about what we do right now.
This is not to say that we can’t learn from past mistakes and use our desire for a better future to motivate us. Don’t misunderstand me. As far as the actions we take, though, we can only do that in the present. So, we need to do so, free of baggage. That’s what I mean by “clear.” You need to neutralize yourself energetically.
Emotions are just energy in motion. They are only in your body for a maximum of 90 seconds. It’s how we interpret them that determines whether the impact lingers on beyond that. The energy of an emotion is like a fiber optic connection to your subconscious… only faster. It’s the language that it speaks! So, it can be very hard to consciously intercept transmissions before they hit your subconscious and provoke a reaction.
This is where practices of meditation or guided visualization really can help. Make time throughout your day to spend five minutes (or however much you can spare) just sitting quietly, observing your thoughts and letting them go by – no judgment and no emotional response.
Persistent or intrusive thoughts are just wanting to be heard. Hear them, so that they can move on. Rid yourself of the background chatter, so that you can make choices from an informed, neutral place.
3. Practice gratitude
It took me a long time to realize the utility in practicing gratitude. It was always part of my model, but it came in response to an achievement or experience. I never got why you would feel grateful for something that hasn’t happened yet.
There are two things to unpack here:
- We experience more of what we feel. Yes, you could call that “The Law of Attraction,” but you don’t have to believe in that in order to recognize that how you feel impacts how you experience the world.
If you’re already stressed about money, for example, then a parking ticket is going to send you over the edge. If you’re an already abundant person (notice I didn’t say “wealthy” or “rich”), then it won’t phase you.
- In order to physically experience a desired outcome, we need to create internal alignment with it. We have to become a vibrational match for the future self we want to be.
You can’t sit around saying that you want to run a successful business, all the while looking at others who are, and thinking of them as “other” in some way. Work on becoming that person first, and the universe will fill in the gaps. And no, I’m not talking about “fake it ’til you make it.” I’m saying: Become it, and you will make it.
Here’s a life hack for you around gratitude: You can practice it with anything, and you’ll still create a seismic shift in your experience. Like we said earlier, your subconscious speaks the language of emotion. This is a beautiful language, but not a particularly nuanced one when it comes to the enormity (or lack thereof) of a given situation. So, you practicing feeling grateful for your shoes, is just as impactful as winning your first $ 1M contract. You just have to turn up the dial.
It sounds silly, but have a look at your shoes and pay attention to the physical sensations that occur when you think about how grateful you are for them. Then start acting out the physical motions that you would, were they (somehow) representative of your first $ 1 million contract.
Jump up and down! Dance! Punch the air!
Don’t worry about what other people think (or better yet, do it in private). Once you’ve physically gone through the motions of celebrating those two wing-tipped wonders, pay attention to your emotional state.
Different, isn’t it? Imagine if you could cultivate a consistent state of being grateful for all you have. How much better would your life be? Remember: Everything that shows up in your life is the result of expectation.
Related: 5 Signs It’s Time for a Life Change
This is the human part. We can’t be “switched on” all the time. We will falter in the face of stress, trauma and life. That’s okay! If we can honor that – by learning to listen to ourselves and our bodies, hear what it’s telling us, and make space for it – we should always be able to get back on course.
Be gentle with yourself. Learn to cultivate an understanding of how you respond to different circumstances, and see it as a way to build a bigger picture of who you are. This will help inform you about what strategies to follow and what company to keep.
Mastery of these four steps to change anything takes time and probably isn’t something you’ll ever feel 100% on top of. That’s okay. When you find yourself on a path that you don’t want to be on, try using these steps as a process to reorient yourself.