by Alan Allard
Imagine your life starting out this way….
…You grew up in an emotionally and physically abusive family environment, with chaos and pain all around you. After many years of that, your mother leaves her husband and is at times working three part time jobs or is on welfare. In the midst of all that you discover that the man you thought was your dad isn’t your biological father. So you go looking for your biological father and find out that he is a well-to-do professional baseball player. You finally make contact with him, only to find out that he does not want to have anything to do with you for many years. Years later, when it comes time to go to college, he reluctantly agrees to pay your tuition only, and has legal documents drawn up to that effect. Soon afterward, you and your dad connect, grow close… and then he dies of cancer long before you are ready to let go of him.
Okay, what would you have done if you had that kind of start in life? For many, it would have been enough to make excuses for their failure to create the life they really wanted. And they would have plenty of others to join in with them, offering them their “understanding” and “sympathy.” …Well-intentioned perhaps, thinking they are being empathetic and kind. In reality, they might as well be the judge and jury that locks someone up in prison and throws away the key.
Now, whether you are a country music fan or not, chances are that you are familiar with superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Both have carved out lives for themselves, and with each other, that goes far beyond what most would believe to be possible for themselves. Tim McGraw, for those of you who are not country music fans, is the Tom Cruise of his industry, having recently recorded the biggest hit of his career, “Live Like You Were Dying.” He is also an actor, convincingly playing an abusive, often drunk father in the recent movie Friday Night Lights. At 37, according to one writer, “McGraw has the trim, hard body of a man a decade younger, and he is married to the stunning Faith Hill.” Together, they have three beautiful young daughters.
Consider all that and then let me inform you that the life I asked you to imagine earlier is the life Tim McGraw lived for the first couple of decades of his life. Yes, you heard that right. Tim’s current life is dramatically different from what he started out with.
And with the life that he has created for himself, what does he seem to value most? The answer? Finding and building a close relationship with his biological father before he died of cancer, and creating the family life that he had always longed for. Tim said in an interview, “When you get married and have a family, you get very focused on what that means and how easily it can get away from you…your career can come and go at any time, and you can survive losing that. But I could not stand losing my family.”
Considering how the first twenty or so years of his life went, you might be wondering how Tim got to where he is today.
Let’s think about that, and think about how you can actually create what you want and truly want what you create. Because life is such a precious gift, and because it is short, it is important for us to be able to create what we want… and to want what we create. As long as you are alive, you will be creating a life for yourself. The question is, will it be a life that you want…truly want? And you might as well build the life of your dreams, because you are fully capable of doing so. Period.
Why Create The Life You Want? Because You Can!
Now, what does this involve? Many things, to be sure, and a few things that are paramount, all of which can be learned. Let’s consider…
A Foundation For Creating The Life You Want…
First, understand that the past does not equal the future. Period. Tim McGraw understood that early on. He understood that his future life could be engineered to whatever specifications he desired, regardless of his past. You can believe whatever you want in regards to creating the life you want. It is up to you.
Next, pay attention to the “state” (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual) you will be in as you go about planning your future. Make sure that you begin with a mindset, an overall attitude that you can and will learn to create a life that you will truly enjoy and profit from, on all levels. A life filled with learning, meaning, and fulfillment. A life shared with loved ones and friends and lived with excitement for the next moment, all the while loving the present moment.
Then, perhaps next, choose what outcomes are important to you, across all contexts of your life. Consider your health, your relationships, your hobbies, your work life, your family, etc. What do you really want for yourself? Allow yourself to be a child again and imagine Santa telling you, with a broad smile, that you can have whatever you want. Your job is to dream, and to dream big! Now, dream bigger than that! Why? Because you can! A child doesn’t know what is “reasonable” or “possible!” She just knows what she wants! Now, as you choose your outcomes, you will want to ensure that they are what we call “well-formed outcomes.” A well-formed outcome, for instance will be arrived at, in part, when you consider the short term and long term consequences of your choices. Consider how your choices will affect you and those you care about, across all contexts of your life.
It’s Your Life…You Get To Choose
Now, there is another important element to creating what you want and wanting what you create. It’s called “congruency.” Congruency is all about having your beliefs, values, desires, behaviors and states (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual) aligned, so that they are all flowing and going in the same direction. A direction that you have carefully chosen for yourself vs. a direction that has been set by others. And make no mistake about it, you will either be moving in a direction that you have carefully chosen or you will be moving in a direction imposed upon you by others, well intentioned perhaps, but still imposed.
To do all of this, of course, requires having or building in the required skill sets. It takes skill to fly an airplane, to build a satisfying relationship with a significant other, to have rapport with your client or colleagues, to influence your children in useful ways, to get and stay healthy, to increase your income. You are capable of doing, creating and achieving anything you want, whether you believe that to be the case or not. Look around you and see who else has done what you are wanting to do. We can model anyone we desire. And modeling is itself a skill, a skill that can be learned. Now, while skill is important, it is not the most important element of creating what you want and wanting what you create.
What Drives Your Behavior?
For instance, your overall belief system, which includes what people call “beliefs” and “values” will drive your behaviors as you build your life. So the question is, what beliefs and values will be useful for you to operate from, considering the life you want to create? All beliefs and values are learned, and you can install any belief you desire and see how useful it is or is not for you. If you do not know how to do this, you can learn how.
Now, we have considered a few things that will make it easy for you to create what you want and to want what you create. I have mentioned friends, family, and loved ones. Why? Because, life was meant to be shared. Life was meant to be lived with others. It is easier and sweeter to create what you want when you are having fun doing so with others who share your values and vision. And when you share in theirs as well. We can all learn from each other, can we not? And then there are the fortunate ones who have consciously decided to build a community that they can contribute to and draw from, a community that will make it so much easier for them to create the life of their dreams.
I hope I have stirred your thinking, as well as your emotions, about what is possible for you in terms of creating what you want. You can settle, of course. Or you can really go for what is worth going for in your life. And you get to decide what is worth going for. Of course you do, because you are the one that will be living with the consequences of your choices. Not to say that you do not affect others, because you do. If you have children, consider them as you let everything we have been talking about sink in. What do you want to teach your children about creating what they want? And remember, they will not be listening to what you say. They will be paying attention to what your behaviors communicate. Now, what was it that you were saying?
Alan Allard is president of GeniusDynamics, offering life and business coaching. He is certified in Human Performance Engineering ™ and offers seminars and training as well as private coaching.