The 4 Addictions That Destroy Your Dreams (They're Not What You Think)

The people living By Design live by a different set of rules. They know an upset is just an upset, their problems are assets and the past is where it belongs -- behind them. They aren't victims.
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UPDATE: The application process for HuffPost Living's 'Life by Design' contest is now closed. Thanks to all who participated and shared their stories!

EDITOR'S NOTE: HuffPost Living is offering four lucky winners -- one per "addiction" -- a month of free career coaching with Tom Ferry, the bestselling author of Life By Design. To enter the contest, applicants must first complete the FIND YOUR HIDDEN ADDICTION QUIZ below. Then GO HERE to tell us why YOU should win!

*Applicants must live in the New York Tri-State area, be currently unemployed and looking to reenter the workforce.*

In the midst of the economic meltdown ... with chaos and hardship everywhere, my business is growing, I'm happily married 17 years and counting, I'm connected with my two boys, I have a terrific social life, I'm physically fit and most important ... I'm happy! Is it possible during these challenging times to be this way?

I say yes!

Look, I have been to the lowest point in my life -- waking up in the gutter, wasted on drugs with no hope of ever changing my life. If I can turn my life around, so can you.

Today, as a success coach, I think of myself as a life strategist in a business world. I travel from city to city giving lectures and conducting seminars that help change people's lives. Guiding people toward greater success in their chosen field, while simultaneously enabling them to achieve a better balance across all the key areas of their lives -- that's what I do.

How is this type of turnaround possible?

I simply decided a long time ago to stop living by default and start to live By Design!

Now, what if I told you I could help you achieve the same results in your own life -- show you how to navigate the rough water we're all treading these days by creating a plan to not only survive but actually thrive in these difficult times?

As of July 2008, there were more than 123,000,000 Americans who were either struggling or suffering, in great part but not entirely due to the economic crisis. As things progressively get worse, that number continues to skyrocket, eclipsing the number of thriving Americans month after month.

Are you one of them?

To fully understand what holds us back from living to our fullest potential, you have to recognize that most people live life by default. What I mean by this is they fail to decide how they want their lives to be or have an unwillingness to do whatever it takes to make that happen, and simply accept things as they are. They believe they have no say or power to affect their course. But the bottom line about living by default, in my view, is that it represents choosing to be a victim!

Most people are living in what I refer to as an active coma. They're alive, functioning, but appear to be plugged into an imaginary life support, hoping someday when they wake up everything will be okay. Think about it; they've become victims of the circumstances of the world and they're doing little to nothing about it! They're suffering with the economy, the housing crises, politics, their finances or lack thereof, their relationships, their health and their emotional well-being, just to name a few. And they're stuck, concerned, worried and afraid to act! They're afraid to change, afraid to try a new approach; they're in a coma!

Why is it that some people live their lives full of love, abundance and purpose, what I would call a rich and full life, while others live in a state of fear, lack and indecision? It is because most of the world sees themselves as victims. They're always suffering. Now more than ever, adversity is destined to be on your path. Are you worried about losing your job, home, marriage, health or money? The question isn't how did you get here, but what will you do now?

When you realize that you've been living your life by default, you will become consciously aware that you are responsible for your choices. With 20 years and nearly 30,000 hours of success coaching behind me, I have learned that most people get comfortable suffering and accept things as they are too quickly, rather than choosing to change or try something new!

Aristotle said the formula for happiness and success is to "first, have a definite, clear, practical idea, goal or objective. Second, attain it by whatever means available, whether wisdom, money, materials, or methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end."

All success is predicated on finding what you are passionate about and then becoming relentless in your pursuit of every possibility so you will achieve your dreams.

When I was making some difficult decisions to change things up in my own life several years ago, my mentor and friend Mike Vance asked me five thought-provoking and life-altering questions to help me envision and then plan out the path I should take.

1. Why are you here -- what's your purpose?

2. How do you want to show up for others -- what are your values?

3. What are your God-given talents?

4. Five years from now, how is the world experiencing you?

5. Who would you already be if you were already there?

None of these questions was easy to answer, but they all got me thinking ... hard. It was as if a door had been opened that I never even knew existed. If I could identify these answers, anything was possible. All I had to do was figure out my next step. If I could do that, I could stop living by default and would discover the keys to creating a life, By Design.

The people living By Design live by a different set of rules. They know an upset is just an upset, their problems are assets and the past is where it belongs -- somewhere behind them. They aren't victims; they're victors, heroes if you will, because they are willing to jump through hoops to live the life they dream of. I've met people who don't have two nickels to rub together, as well as extremely successful business people that fall into this category. Living By Design isn't about how much money you have. It's a frame of mind that positively impacts every core area of your life. It isn't easy, but living By Design is hugely rewarding, and that my friend, is our goal.

The Four Addictions

I've discovered four addictions we all have that destroy more dreams, more hopes and more lives than alcohol, drugs, food, gambling or sex combined. When I refer to addictions, I am not focused on any of these. To me, those are habitual symptoms or effects brought on by four much larger causes that are the root cause of those symptoms.

They are:

1) The Addiction to opinions of other people. As a society, we're addicted to what others think about us and how others' views of the world affect us.

2) The Addiction to drama. Some people are drawn to and consumed by any event or situation that occupies their thoughts and fills their mind with negativity, which often brings attention to them in unproductive ways.

3) The Addiction to the past. These people have an unhealthy attachment to events or situations that have occurred in the past. They're stuck in how things used to be.

4) The Addiction to worry. This addiction is comprised of all the negative and self-defeating thoughts that make us anxious, disturbed, upset and stressed, that hold us back in life.


Tom Ferry's Sure Signs of Four Addictions -- these are merely ideas to help you identify how each addiction could be showing up in your life. Do not reject the addiction if you don't relate to the six examples in each category. Think about situations in your life that might be more relevant to you.

The Addiction to the Opinions of Others

1. You Are Concerned About What Others Are Saying or Think About You.

2. You Have Good Ideas and Intentions But Find Yourself Afraid to Act on Them.

3. You Over Leveraged Yourself Financially in the Last Decade With Cars, Clothes, Homes, Jewelry and More.

4. You Are Constantly Seeking Other People's Approval or Avoiding Their Disapproval.

5. You're Afraid to Speak in Public.

6. You're Afraid to Speak Your Mind.

The Addiction to Drama

1. You Love To Gossip.

2. You Are Always In The Middle of a Crisis.

3. You're Glued to the News, Magazines and Stories About X Y & Z.

4. You Have a Tendency Toward Over Reacting Versus Rational Behavior.

5. Everything Is a Bigger Deal Than It Actually Is.

6. You're a Pot Stirrer.

The Addiction to the Past

1. You Constantly Talk About the Past and the Way Things Used to Be.

2. You Resist Change.

3. You Continually Fail to Plan for a Better Future.

4. You Argue for the Past That Things Used to be Better.

5. You've Allowed Relationships to Become Stale, Uninteresting and Without Passion.

6. You have Physically or Mentally Peaked.

The Addiction to Worry

1. You're Depressed, Concerned and Fearful about Everything.

2. You Spend Time with Other Worriers.

3. You Turn to TV and Movies as a Way to Escape the Thoughts in Your Head.

4. You Continuously Wake Up at Night from Your Mind Chatter.

5. You Continuously Go to the Worst-Case Scenario First.

6. You Use Food, Alcohol or Drugs to Control Your Moods and Feelings.

If you were to take away only one message from me, I want you to free yourself from the four addictions. Your life will become instantly and infinitely better.

I'm not a guru. I am a regular guy who has made it his life's mission to make a difference in other people's lives. I have been exposed to more and perhaps different models of excellence over the course of my career, which has helped me develop and brand my own model of excellence, one you can now benefit from and experience for yourself.

I am one of the fortunate guys in this world who wakes up every day eager, anxious, excited, fired up and ready to get to work. I love my wife and two sons. Against many obstacles, I have created an extraordinary life. Am I somehow luckier than you?


I simply learned to and choose to live my life By Design--not by default. So can you.

Tom Ferry is CEO of YourCoach, and success coach to more than 100,000 people and leader of more than 100 business motivation seminars per year. He speaks to dozens of major corporations annually and has served as head coach to hundreds of top executives over the past 20 years. His latest book is his instant New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller LIFE! BY DESIGN: 6 Steps to an Extraordinary You.

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