Written by Paul Angone Why do some people live a life full of significance, impact, and meaning – basically a life of their dreams?
While the rest live a ho-hum life – full of potential, but with no real purpose?
For the last 10 + years, I've searched for the answers to those two questions. On this journey I've done years of research, wrote hundreds of blog posts, published two books, traveled the nation speaking, completed a master's degree, and interviewed countless influencers. And if I boiled down the secrets to living a significant life down to five things, here's what they would be:
5 Secrets to Living a Significant Life
1. Master the small, daily, underrated core habits.
Sometimes I think we view people who are truly successful as somewhat mythical beings who must have some big secret that has produced a short-cut to success.
The more I study and speak to successful people, the more I've realized:
Successful people's profound secret of success is that they don't have a profound secret. They aren't searching for that big, secret shortcut. No, they are focused on mastering the small.
Their life consists of discipline within crucial core habits that add to their life, instead of drain it.
Examples like: Getting up early. Exercising. Eating healthy, identifying the foods that drain them and removing those from their diet. Then as well, not eating too much.
Mastering the small core habits can make a big difference.
Our bodies are our gardens – our wills are our gardeners.” – William Shakespeare
Studies are showing that consistently exercising actually can increase your IQ, specifically creating "an increase in the irisin molecule levels in the blood which activate genes involved in learning and memory."
Don't get me wrong, I don't write this while at my standing desk, pumping out the article while wrapping up a half-marathon on my treadmill below. Discipline in the daily is not always my forte.
Yet, for the last year I've made a more consistent effort, especially when it comes to eating smart, and I can't tell you how big of a difference it's made in my energy, performance, and mental health.
Simply not over-eating at lunch and slipping into a carb-comma at your desk at 1:30, can give you two more productive hours a day for an extra ten hours a week.
Crush your day by being consistent at the core elements that can make or break your day.
2. Have goals that are built and based off what I call your unique Signature Sauce
Mastering the core habits is so much easier when you have a vision and goals that you're working towards. Then your discipline and hard-work has context, purpose, and a point.
You're not mastering your day as an exercise in discipline, you're mastering your day so that you can exercise your purpose.
I'm realizing more and more that when I'm feeling the most anxious in my life it's because I don't have any clear, identifiable goals.
People who are living a significant life, their goals aren't created out of context either. They create goals as a culmination of who they are, what they believe, what they're good at, where they want to go, and most importantly, why they know it's important.
Too many of us focus all our time trying to figure out what we're going to do and how we're going to do it, instead of first truly understanding "Why" we feel and think it's important.
The more you know your why, the more flexible and adaptable you're going to be in your what and how.
Defining, refining, owning and honing your unique Signature Sauce becomes a framework where your passion, purpose, and career collide, which is why I'm creating a new online course to help you uncover your Signature Sauce.
Remember: the greatest danger you face in the world today is that you're replaceable...Your only salvation is to mine your uniqueness, to combine various skills that set you apart. No one can do what you do. That's your endgame." - Paul Graham
3. Do "Relationshipping" really well
Stop networking like a machine. Start relationshipping like a person. That's what successful people do well.
Too often networking is about us, our needs and pain points that we're trying to alleviate. When "relationshipping" is about authentically building relationships not just when you "need" them.
Relationships aren't a means to an end, relationships are the meaning.
4. Care more about learning than you do about your ego
Want to know a simple test on whether or not you care more about learning than you do about your ego -- How do you receive feedback?
Honestly, receiving feedback graciously hasn't always been a strength of mine. Still isn't.
But more and more I'm realizing if you're able to receive constructive feedback from a boss, parent, spouse, or teacher and then implement what's needed to do it better the next time, you care more about learning than your ego.
If the moment you smell feedback you attack it like an angry buffalo charging a tourist who has ventured too close, then your ego (and the insecurities it's protecting) is probably a little too sharp.
If your ego keeps charging at everyone who tries to help, then people are going to stop helping.
5. Care more about learning than you do about the possibility of failing.
Want to know a simple test on whether or not you care more about learning than you do about the possibility of failing -- when you're given a big project does the enormity of it make you excited?
Or do you start visualizing the end outcome and become overwhelmed with fear that you're not going to be able to accomplish it?
Does pursuing your dreams feel overwhelming? That means you're onto something BIG. If it didn't feel out of reach, why would you stretch?
People who are living a meaningful life care way more about learning and failing forward, than they do about the fear of looking stupid. The frustration of being complacent and comfortable far outweighs the fear of failure.
As I write in my new book All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!
"Fear makes self-preservation a top priority. It makes "don't get hurt" the rule to live by. But our instinct for self-preservation will get us killed–a long, slow death. We'll sit there enduring drips of water on our forehead, one after another, day after day, until we snap and throw our computer through our boss's window and wear nothing else but Hawaiian shirts for a month. And I mean nothing else."
I'd love to hear from you in the comments on this article:
Which one of these secrets of living a significant life resonate with you the most?
Paul Angone is the author of All Groan Up: Searching For Self, Faith, and a Freaking Job!, 101 Secrets for your Twenties and the creator of AllGroanUp.com, a place for those asking "what now?" Snag his free ebook on the 10 Key Ingredients to Finding Your Signature Sauce and follow him at @PaulAngone.