We have one single chance to live our lives – just one. Why should we waste even a single moment heading down a path that isn’t what we truly desire?

For much of my life, I’ve been so preoccupied with just making ends meet, that I haven’t had a lot of leftover energy to spend on creating a life that is truly amazing. Can you relate? Now that I make a comfortable living and I’m not stressing out over money constantly, the time has come to challenge myself to take things to the next level.

Money itself does not create an amazing life. Like Tim Ferriss said in his book The 4-Hour Workweek, he was making $70,000 per month but was miserable because he had no time to actually live.

That’s kind of where my life has headed. I’m comfortable, but I don’t have the time I want to live the life I want. As part of the Freelance Smackdown, I challenged Dave Navarro’s time management coaching programs to help me find a few more hours in my day that I could devote to creating passive income streams. After talking to Dave, I got really excited about what I could do with more time. Ultimately, I don’t want more time so that I can work even more. I want more time so that I can live more.

I guess I always thought that somehow this great life would just “happen,” that somewhere along the way things would just fall into place. But now I’m 32 years old and I’m realizing that there is no waiting for something to happen and that creating an amazing life doesn’t happen without a highly concentrated effort.

Have you ever stopped for a moment in time and wondered… “How did this become my life?” If we’re not careful, we can drive ourselves right into a life that bears no resemblance to what we really desire. Is it really possible to break free of an existence we don’t feel passionate about? Do the people living our dream lives have some sort of special quality that gives them a ticket to live an incredible life – or are they just making different choices?

I think it is absolutely possible. I managed to escape one unfullfilling existence (cubicle) in exchange for a new life (freelancing), where I now have a lot more freedom and flexibility. Now, my goal is to take what I learned during that process to create a life that is truly exciting and absolutely in line with my passions.

Do You Really Want What You Think You Want?

This might sound strange at first… but hear me out. Sometimes we think that we want some end result, but we wouldn’t be happy doing what it takes to get there and to actually carry out the plan.

Sometimes, the cost of achieving a goal is higher than we’re willing to pay. If this is the case, that’s fine! It just means that you may need to reevaluate what you actually want and stop chasing goals that you aren’t willing to achieve and then being angry at yourself for not accomplishing them.

Action Plan: Find out exactly what the day to day life is like of someone living the life you think you want. Find out if this is something you’d even be happy with. Will it give you the richness of life that you are actually seeking?

Have You Been Pigeonholed into Believing That There is Only One Path of Success For You?

I remember when I was moving up the ranks at the insurance company I used to work for. I was so blind sighted about there being only one way to succeed in my career (the path that was laid out by the company) that I did not see any other options. I remember thinking that I needed to grow up and realize that adults were supposed to get a good steady job and the dreams I had of traveling the world were just unrealistic dreams. I was 26 and thinking this! The thrill of chasing promotions was fun for a while, but after I got to where I thought I wanted to be in the company, I found the experience quite empty. I shudder to think just how many people must feel like this right now.

Action Plan: Take some time off to get some perspective on your current situation. What kinds of talents do you bring to the table at your current job? Is there a way you could be helping more people with those talents than just your company? If your company is willing to pay you for your expertise, then aren’t there plenty of other people who would do the same? Can you turn the knowledge you have into a packaged product or service that could bring value to many people?

Is Your Current Life Conducive Of Achieving Your Ultimate Goals?

My ultimate goal in life is to travel around the world – and not just on vacation. I want to be able to soak up as much as I can about a place before moving on. I don’t like to be on rigid time schedules and I don’t want to spend 51 weeks of the year saving up for 1 week of vacation. Ideally, I want to integrate my work into my life so that there is little separation between the two.

As a freelance writer, I can work wherever I want and whenever I want as long as I have an internet connection. I met an amazing woman last week named Anna Dubrovsky who is really living the freelance writer’s dream life! While I could travel anywhere, it would be pretty difficult to get anything done in a hotel with 2 wild cooped up kids. And because the majority of my income is made from a straight trade of hours for dollars, I must be continuously working in order to make an income. This is the reason that my next goal is to create systems that generate passive income. This type of income still requires a great deal of work, but it also allows for even greater time flexibility.

What freelancing has done for me is to give me the flexibility of time that is necessary to pursue my passive income goals. More importantly, it has given me the belief that it is possible to make a living without an employer. This is huge. If you don’t really believe that this is possible, then you probably won’t invest the time it takes to pursue those paths.

Action Plan: Ask yourself – if all things were possible, what would I be doing right now? What would be the ultimate life? Don’t assume in your question that you are independently wealthy already. If you do that, you may be waiting forever to get to a point where you are independently wealthy to ever start living your dream life. How can you live your ultimate lifestyle while still working and generating revenue?

Are There Negative People or Situations That You Need to Purge From Your Life?

There have been a few times in my life where my situation was just so non-conducive to making progress, that I just decided to turn in my cards and start over with a fresh hand. Sometimes you can adjust your current situation enough to start making progress toward your goals, but if you’re in a negative environment surrounded by people or a situation that sucks the life out of you, it may be time to walk away and start over.

There was a time in the dot bomb era of 2001 that my husband lost his job along with more than 5,000 other people in the tech industry in Oregon. We had a 1-year-old and a newborn. In an attempt to save money, we moved in with my mother in law and her husband – bad move. It was perhaps the most depressing, soul-sucking experience I have ever encountered. In their presence, neither of us could get to the state of mind we needed in order to create a dream plan, let alone actually achieve it. Though we had food and a roof, this was nothing compared to the positive, kick-ass mindset we needed to pull ourselves out of the situation.

After a few days of contemplation, we decided to go back to California because California had always been a place where we felt we could achieve anything. There is just an “essence” of empowerment in the air that I haven’t found in many other places. We borrowed a little bit of money to make the 1,000 mile journey with a few hundred left over that wouldn’t come close to paying for even half a month of rent in California. Everyone thought we were nuts. Along the way, we decided that we were going to purge every person from our life that was a negative influence or who didn’t believe in our plan. That left a total of two people.

We ended up renting a place in Playas de Tijuana Mexico that had no stove and no refrigerator. We had no furniture. The walls would drip with water every morning from the lack of insulation in concrete. But that situation, as “grim” as it was, was far better than the situation we had just left. I got a job in Northern San Diego County and would spend about 5 hours in the car traveling while he stayed home with the kids. The kids were happy as ever. At that age, they had no idea what was going on – only that mom or dad or both was always with them. After about 3 months, I saved up enough money to get us out of there and we were back on track.

Don’t be afraid of making major life changes if that’s what it’s going to take. If you believe in yourself enough, you’ll find a way to come out on top. You may be better of with less “stuff” and a more positive, empowering outlook on life than with lots of creature comforts and a bunch of dull negativity.

Action Plan: Identify which things in your life are bringing you down. It may be a family member, a “friend,” a boss, a coworker, or a client. What is keeping these people in your life costing you?

Embrace the Fact that Fear and Rejection Are Part of the Process

Making any major change in life is going to require taking some risks. It’s going to require that you purposefully put yourself into some uncomfortable situations. It’s just part of the process! Are you ready for that? If you’re just starting out trying to create a new stream of revenue for yourself, risk may be as simple as taking that first step to call or email someone and ask if they could use your services or if they will place your product on their shelf. If it feels scary, that’s a good thing.

Most of us are so scared of feeling fear or rejection that we just stick to our comfort zone and never try new things. When you’re just starting out, very few people will believe in you. That’s just the way it is. It was probably that way for everyone who is successful today. If you learn not to take these things personally and not internalize that negativity, so many new doors of opportunities will open.

Michele Hoskins, a woman who created a brand of syrup from her grandmother’s recipe was rejected by Denny’s buyers every single Monday for two years until they finally agreed to stock her syrup at Denny’s. Now she’s a millionaire. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books were rejected by 300+ publishers before one finally agreed to publish it. What would we (and they) have missed out on if they had taken this rejection personally and given up?

Action Plan: Get out there and make mistakes. It’s going to take plenty of failures to hit on one success. Screw up a sales call. Pitch an idea to someone even if you think they’re going to laugh at you. Who cares if no one believes you are going to be a success. No one else is living your life but you. You are the only one who can decide what your goals should be and you are the only one who cares enough about your life to make them happen. If you listen to the nay saying of everyone else, you may find that you’re living a life that bears no resemblance of what you really desire.

photo credit: Kites – Fujifilm X100T via photopin (license)

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