My goal coming into 2014, the year I turn 50, was to simplify my life, to remove some things from my calendar that ate up so much time over the past couple of years, and to find new ways to earn money, advance my career, and get ahead. If you were to take a peek at my calendar in Outlook, you would think I have accomplished just the opposite, as my days (and nights) have been filled with teaching, speaking engagements, lots of Church activities, and many other events and meetings. I am actually busier than I have ever been.
However, my focus for the past several years has completely shifted, which has had a profound effect on my attitude about all this “busy-ness”.
For years, my attention has been on “How can I make more money?” “How can I manage my expenses better?” “How can stress less, and find more peace of mind?”
Peace of mind was always the be all, end all, goal that I had in mind. I even had the words “Peace of Mind” written on a few sticky notes around my home, car, and office, as a constant reminder of what I was seeking.
Then, within the last couple of months, I had, perhaps, the greatest epiphany of my life. Making more money and finding peace of mind, while nice “destinations”, were not descriptive of the journey. I had spent so much time with the wrong goal, the wrong focus, that I had become frustrated that I had not accomplished either. I was not any closer to financial freedom, or the peace of mind that I envisioned that came along with it, that I felt overwhelmed and extremely discouraged.
For over 20 years, when asked what my dream career looked like, I always had the same answer. I have wanted to write, consult, teach, and do speaking engagements. I love to teach, I love to be in front of people, and I love to write. “When my life settles down”, I would convince myself, “I will find more time to write, and once I have a couple of books published, I will then have more credibility to go out and land speaking gigs, teaching opportunities, and consulting projects.”
Yup, I had it all figured out. I knew my destination, and was so focused on all the things I needed to accomplish before realizing my dream, that the dream continued to slip further and further out of sight.
Then, literally like a bolt of lightning, came the breakthrough.
What if I focused on the journey, and had the confidence to start doing what I love doing now, rather than waiting for some date and some amount of money in my bank account that would probably never come? What if I stopped thinking about money, and simply just started focusing on doing what I love?
In October of 2013, I was asked to teach a two-day sales class to juniors and seniors here at Cal State Fullerton. It was a nice, paid teaching gig. I loved it, and by all accounts, it went very well. So well, in fact, that I just taught part two of the class last weekend, and will most likely have this opportunity every semester.
Through a connection, in January, I was asked if I would be interested in teaching a Sports Finance class at UC Riverside. I would have my own class, teach once a week for 12 weeks, and there would be a decent paycheck at the end of the quarter. Tonight, I give the final exam, and have absolutely fallen in love with teaching, and have the greatest students. It has been a lot of hard work, and a lot of late nights studying as I prepared to teach each week, but it has been so worth it.
Next quarter, I hope to teach again. In fact, we are now looking at launching a Sports Management program here at Fullerton, and I could have the chance to lead that project, and teach in the program.
Last month, I had a chance to speak at an executive retreat for a local family business here in Southern California, and the experience was life changing for me, and people in the session later commented on how well it went. The paycheck at the end was pretty remarkable, as well, and has led to several more opportunities with other companies.
A few weeks ago, I was asked to join a group of elite speakers around the country. They now represent me, and I will have the privilege of speaking to groups potentially all over the country.
I am not sharing these recent successes and opportunities to brag at all. Quite the opposite, actually. I simply hope the lesson that took me nearly 50 years to learn will come to you much sooner. Once we stop looking so far out into the future at a goal we really cannot even see, start looking at simply doing what we love, develop whatever talents we have been given, and focus on our passions, that goal we couldn’t see out in the distance will, somehow, miraculously, come to us! It really does work that easily.
I am feeling inspired to write again, which had not happened for a long time, as I was so wrapped up in making money, and achieving peace of mind, that my creativity was completely blocked.
As soon as I altered my focus from making money and finding peace of mind, and began to focus on simply doing what I love, and magnifying my talents, the floodgates of opportunity have opened up to me and, you know what, the money is coming in, and I have never felt so much peace. I know that , as I simply focus on doing what I love, and loving what I do, that I am, indeed, finding peace of mind, and that the money (if that is the goal), the opportunities, and true happiness just naturally follows.
This is not rocket science, and has been taught by some of the greatest philosophers, teachers, leaders, and spiritualists for centuries, yet until I applied it in my life, I didn’t really understand the concept. I hope and pray that each of you has already learned this lesson by firsthand experience, or that you learn it very soon.
While I probably have more on my calendar now than I have ever before, my goal of simplifying in 2014 is being fulfilled because I am doing what I truly believe is my calling in life. Every day, I get to write, prepare, teach, and speak, and to me, that is my personal success, and my life is much simpler now.