The No. 1 Reason You Are Existing Instead of Living

Life hurts at times. You determine to live a better life and circumstances punch you in the stomach. Some take the punch and give up, others learn from it and use it as fuel to push them to greatness. I hope you use it as fuel.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

I can distinctly remember how I felt the day my dreams died. I was 17 years old, and because of an incredibly difficult upbringing, I was homeless. I tried to be a responsible adult and juggle everything. I went to high school, did my homework, and spent my nights living in shelters, the streets, and friends' couches.

I knew that I needed income, so I got one job, then two, and then three. Working three jobs, high school, and the craziness of my living situation were too much. When something had to give, it ended being high school. I dropped out. As I walked out of the school, I could feel every dream and plan for my life dying.

I met the woman who would become my wife at one of those jobs; we became husband and wife the day after I turned 18. She wanted me to get my life in order and chase my dream of being a writer. The first thing I did was get my G.E.D.

Life for the next 12 years could be best described as "existing." I got a string of jobs and eventually started a business. I hated what I did for "work" and it affected every area of my life. As a result, in 2011 we were $180,000 in debt, I was 170 pounds overweight, and we lived in a place that had us fearing for our safety.

In 2011 when everything in my life was falling apart, I decided enough was enough. I needed to vent so I wrote about everything that had happened. When I got all of the thoughts out of my head and onto paper, I realized it was a lot of words.

My No. 1 dream was to be an author and walk into a bookstore and see my book. When I thought of sending my words to a publisher, or putting together an eBook and self-publishing, something stopped me in my tracks. I was fed up, I had big dreams, but there was something stronger holding me back.

The fear I had is typical. The thing that holds most of us back from living our dream life or even taking action is the number one reason we exist in life instead of live. I couldn't move forward or take action because I was waiting for permission.

Stop Waiting for Permission

Too often in life, we wait for permission to chase big dreams or live the kind of life we want to live. We wait for validation; we wait for someone we respect or love to tell us it's "OK" to do what we want to do. We hesitate because we listen to our doubt, fear, and self-limiting beliefs and wait for permission to overcome them.

Growing up the idea of waiting for permission was ingrained in us. We were taught that you should listen to those who "know" more than we do. We were taught that to be successful you had to follow the same path. It was never spoken, but the idea of doing something outside the lines was frowned upon.

Here's the thing to understand, no one will ever give you permission. If you're going to do incredible things in life and live out your dream, you are going to have to be the one to take action.

You don't need to wait for permission because of these three factors:

1. We have access to knowledge. When you want to know something, what's the first thing you do? You Google or YouTube it. We have access to the information that can teach us how to do what we want to do.

2. We have incredible technology. The things that are happening right before our eyes are amazing. New technology makes it easier to do things we could never do in the past.

3. Life is short. We know this in our minds, yet we don't live life this way. Time is the one thing we'll never get back. Before you know it, you'll come to the end of your life with regret or fantastic memories.

Life hurts at times. You determine to live a better life and circumstances punch you in the stomach. Some take the punch and give up, others learn from it and use it as fuel to push them to greatness. I hope you use it as fuel.

No one will ever give you permission, and there will always be stressful situations to overcome. You have what it takes. You are powerful and stronger than you realize. You will change the world if you believe in yourself and what's possible. Believe! It starts in your mind. Determine right now that you're NOT going to wait for permission.

When I stopped waiting for permission, I lost 170 pounds and quit a job I hated to write. My book, Are You Living or Existing? 9 Steps to Change Your Life, is now a Publisher's Weekly best-selling book. One year ago, our family moved from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to our dream destination of Maui, Hawaii. I stopped waiting and started living.

I hope you'll do the same.