At the age of 27, I was not living my dreams. I was climbing the seemingly endless corporate ladder at one of the world's leading consulting firms, which sounds far more glamorous than it was in reality. The work was unfulfilling and monotonous. No matter how hard I worked, I felt under-appreciated and sometimes underpaid. I would think "is this really all that life is supposed to be for me - sitting in a cubicle counting down to vacation days and Fridays?" Sure I was making a six-figure salary, but money can only temporarily soothe complacency and unhappiness. True happiness can only come from living at your full potential.
One day my grandmother, an insurance agency owner since 1981 and one of the biggest motivational figures in my life, inspired me to stop complaining and do something different. She helped me shift my mindset from being a passive victim of my situation to becoming an active creator of the life that I desired to live. Now I am living my dreams. Here are the five steps I took:
1. Stop complaining.
I don't believe in looking back in regret, but rather in clarity. If there is one thing that is clear to me it's that my constant complaining was getting me nowhere. I needed to stop wasting energy complaining about my situation and start accepting that I had the power to change it. Complaining yields no benefits. It keeps us in a constant state of negativity and self-victimization. It is the most counterproductive thing we can do when we are hungry for something better. Our bodies have natural reactions when its needs aren't being met. Whether we are hungry, thirsty or exhausted, complaining about how we feel doesn't take those feelings away. We have to do something about it, we have to take the initiative to get up and give ourselves what we crave. I knew I was craving something new.
2. Decide what is most valuable to you.
No one is better at persuading me than me. I have always been able to convince myself to do or not do something but I haven't always played fair. Often I would subconsciously convince myself that one outcome was better than another. For example, I would consider making a change but deep down I'd tell myself that it was too scary and staying put was a better option. This was getting me nowhere so I started assigning values to my options. When I was making the choice of whether I wanted to change my life I had to decide if it was more valuable to me to be complacent, secure, and unhappy or to conquer the fear of the unknown with the possibility of finding true happiness, fulfillment, and abundance. Ultimately, I decided that if I stayed in my current situation, seemingly very secure, I was resigning myself to being unhappy forever. For me, that was simply too high a price. I knew that breaking through my fear and exploring the unknown with the possibility of finding something much greater was most valuable to me.
3. Determine what it will cost you to not take the risk.
We can't get anywhere without making some sort of sacrifice. Some sacrifices may be larger than others but in the end no opportunity offers 100% net gain, you will always have to lose a bit of something to win. For example, I thought that I was too busy to devote the time necessary to really change my life. As a consultant, I worked long hours and was completely drained by the end of the day. On the weekends, I wanted to get as far away from any sort of work as possible. I wasn't leaving myself very much room for change. Then I asked myself a question - "had everything that I had devoted all of my time to in the past five years gotten me to where I wanted to be?" The answer was a resounding "no". In fact, the things that were making me so unhappy were the very things that I was placing above finding happiness. They were hampering my ability to move forward. I realized that I was going to have to make a sacrifice if I wanted to carve out a space for change. From then on I spent - what were once my sacred and carefree weekends - taking classes on how I could build my own insurance and financial services business.
4. Decide that you are worth the investment.
Very few things are free in this world, including opportunity. Part of forging a path forward is deciding that you are worth the price of entry. To invest in yourself may mean sacrificing your time, cutting back on your lifestyle expenses or maybe even altering your lifestyle completely. For me, investing in myself and building my business required me to cut back in the present and devote financial resources toward the future with the confidence that I would see a tenfold return.
5. Accept that you deserve to live the life that you desire.
The greatest barrier to making a change in our lives that will bring happiness and fulfillment is the idea that we are undeserving of what many others have. When you are hungry for change in your life it's very easy to let negative ideas creep in and derail what you're moving toward. Those sorts of ideas used to tell me that good things didn't happen for me, or that I had missed my chance and even that it was too late to learn something new. Those were all excuses. I was excusing myself from pursuing what I desired out of a fear of failing without giving myself the opportunity to fail. I blocked those thoughts out. I decided that when I looked at my life I wanted every aspect of it to be a reflection of what I desired. Then, finally, I was able to hold myself accountable to those desires. There is an immense level of gratification that comes along with owning your own future and having the confidence to pursue what you truly want out of life. Even though the excitement of being the sole architect of my future has its peaks and valleys, what sustains me is knowing that I have the power to stay the course and build my future exactly as I envision it.
After making the decision to leave my corporate job and build the life that I desired, I started my own business with the mission of helping other people do the same. I am the founder of National Care Financial Group, a financial services marketing and distribution network of licensed professionals. We serve clients nationwide from our corporate offices in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. What I find most fulfilling about my role as CEO of National Care Financial Group is that I am able to give people of all backgrounds, from teachers to accountants to business executives, a platform to create the life that they deserve and to forge a path toward change.