When I talk about my motivation behind offering a Coaching program about money, I usually tell the story of when I went into debt decades ago. It was an utterly terrifying and isolating experience which has shaped my entire life since.
And yet – I was broke, but I still had a roof over my head, I still had food to eat, and I was in a country with social security where I never had to worry about being able to afford healthcare or have my basic needs met.
In the years that followed, I worked through the laborious and for the most part, completely un-glamorous process of financial recovery. As I made mistakes and learned, studied, read, and saved and denied myself everything, I listened to many millionaire gurus’ stories.
They told about how they had lost everything, became homeless, or nearly died after alcohol or drug abuse. Everyone seemed to have one defining experience which shook them up enough to turn things around.
Sometimes, when things were hard and unrewarding, I almost wished I’d had a wake-up moment like that. Something truly drastic which would fire me up enough to make it through the long slog, the many years of getting back on my feet.
If you’ve ever wondered if you have what it takes to truly go for your dreams, this article is for you. I’ll spoil the ending: You do have what it takes. Here’s how you discover your personal “Why”.
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The power of rock bottom
I’m not denying that a catastrophic life event or experience can definitely help your determination and perseverance. When you’re at rock bottom, the only way is up, as they say. Remember Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind, as she stood on her land raising a fistful of soil and swearing to the evening sky that she and hers would never starve again? These are moments which stick in memory.
We all like hearing stories like these. They’re terrible, but because they are usually told from the perspective of someone who has overcome the adversity, they give us a comfortable sense of infinite possibility. There’s nothing more inspiring than a human who’s overcome all the odds and triumphed.
Do look for these stories, but please don’t feel like you fall short in comparison. Use them for inspiration instead, without comparing your own life. You can be just as strong and determined as a surviver of calamity, if you only learn to access that power.
Find your Why
I tell you at every turn to pursue your passion and find your purpose. In our world of seeking material gain and worldly achievement, it’s a lot harder to do these things than they should be. Doing what lights you up and shaping your life around that, is your birthright. It shouldn’t be so danged difficult to make that happen, should it?
The gurus who used to be homeless and became millionaires, the starving artist who overcame addiction to become a celebrated painter, they’re one in a million. If you’re one of the other 999,999 just like me, then your big “Why” might not be so obvious. That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, though – you just have to dig a little deeper. Here’s how.
3 ways to unleash your Why
1. Imagine loss. Lightning strikes your house, the roof starts to burn. You need to get out. What’s the first thing that comes to your head, that you want to save? Note: this is not about the most important/logical thing to save, but the absolutely first thing which springs to mind.
2. Defining life moments. On a piece of paper, draw a timeline representing your life to date. Mark important or defining moments in your life on that timeline. What are these moments? Be sure not to just mark things like marriage and births, but also other experiences which affected you emotionally and shaped you.
3. Emotional response. What makes you choke up or cry? What kinds of scenes in movies or books? What kinds of experiences? What genuinely moves you? Also, what makes you tingly or grin happily?
Your answers to these exercises all contain hints to your Why. Try and pin it down. Don’t give up if it isn’t immediately clear. It is there, and once you have it, hold on to it. This is why it’s worth the effort to grow as a person. It’s why you must do what lights you up, why you must find your purpose. It’s what makes your life magnificent.