This is YOUR Life! Don’t Phone It In

Two of the biggest regrets I hear from a lot of adults today is that they wish they had listened to their own instincts and followed the life path they desired rather than trying to please others, choose a job, or lead a life out of fear. When they look back, they recall swearing to themselves that it was only temporary until something better came along.

Most of us come across these types of people every day: the server that looks annoyed when you take more than a minute to order your favorite coffee or breakfast sandwich; the cashier that has that glazed look in his or her eyes when he or she hands you your change without saying thank you; or the catatonic executive who spends his or her day unproductively staring at the clock or computer screen.

Sadly, most Americans don’t take the initiative from an early age to identify and pursue their passions, talents, or desires. Instead they often give in to their fears or misguided advice they receive or adopt from parents, advisors, friends, and others. As a result, many wind up ‘phoning in’ their lives by: mindlessly daydreaming about what could have been, feel they settled for less than they desired and now regret a life they never wanted, or, even worse, wake up every morning making excuses to anyone who will listen as to why they can’t pursue the life they once had a passion for. I cannot begin to tell you how many people wind up stuck in dead-end jobs/careers because they are: afraid to explore their true potential, desperate due to prior poor financial or life decisions (marriage, divorce, debt, etc.), or, even worse, are paralyzed by their obsessive need to hold onto material possessions (house, cars, etc.).

This is why it is so important for young adults to stop following in the footsteps of so many older adults (age 40-60) who suffer from what I call financial obesity, one’s obsessive and self-sabotaging need to constantly overspend and remain financially unhealthy as a result of a lack of financial education and personal development. To break the cycle, we must start encouraging emerging adults to develop new ways to succeed on their own terms by educating them with tools and resources during their early, formative years. This empowering education can help our young adults begin to make better financial and career-related decisions earlier in their lives that will positively impact their future personal and financial success.

As I discuss in my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, and in my recent blog entitled, “Self-Economics: A New Era for America’s Emerging Adults,” I address why it’s imperative that high schools and colleges must now find more productive and effective ways to educate young adults through enhanced high school and college curricula which I have dubbed “Self-Economics.”

The new curricula should include:

1. Financial literacy–which promotes personal finance and investing and the avoidance of “financial obesity.”
2. Personal development–a theoretical approach to learning and decision-making (which promotes
“the power of why”).
3. Entrepreneurship–which encompasses many of the elements of my
T.I.M.E. Model which teaches emerging adults how to invest in themselves rather than continue to rely on, or disappoint others.

By empowering young adults to make better decisions that will positively impact their outcomes and lives, they will be encouraged to no longer accept the status quo. They will stop choosing college majors or educational degrees that are not in alignment with their own passions, skills, or strengths simply because they have been pressured to do so by others. As they continue to grow older, they won’t remain in jobs that no longer inspire or fulfill them. They’ll refrain from accepting or settling for a job that is inconsistent with what they want, and therefore stop struggling, or, even worse, feel “set up to fail.” They’ll refuse to live in a sterile apartment, house, or location that feels more like a cold bus stop bench (e.g. waiting area) than a warm and stable sanctuary (e.g. home). They’ll also stop attracting what I like to call emotional parasites. These are unhealthy, dysfunctional people that often intentionally or unknowingly manipulate or use others for their own personal entertainment or distraction and who often project their own negative self-worth upon others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. 

To help you enhance your probabilities for success, I would like to offer you the following three suggestions:

1. You have the right to disappoint others – as I stated above: this is your life; don’t phone it in. It is time for you to start identifying your passions by trusting your own instincts. Once you have discovered them, clearly define your goals so they are consistent with your passions. Then keep your eyes open so you can spot related opportunities to pursue them. Re-affirm your intentions to motivate and empower yourself to take the necessary actions steps required to achieve the goals you’ve set and to make the necessary intermediary decisions that will lead to your probable (not possible) outcomes for success.

2. Like clothes, you may outgrow your current job or circle of friends. It is okay to move on and go against the wishes of others. Surround yourself with the people and experiences that will not only support and encourage you to attain the goals you have set, but those that will also help you to continue to grow. “True friends” will always support your decision to embark on new life experiences, even when those intentions do not align with their own. Other friends may not, and you will need to let those who can’t fade away. Always remember and appreciate those that have helped you become the person that you are today, but don’t be afraid to leave them behind if they can no longer champion your desired outcomes for success.

3. Most importantly, clearly define your goals. Your odds for success improve dramatically when you start off with a plan or written goals that you can effectively use to measure your future decisions and outcomes. I find it extremely helpful to ask myself the following question before I make any important decisions, “What is the probability versus the possibility of…?” This leading question will help you to anticipate whether or not your pending decision will support or hinder your overall plans, goals, and/or desired outcomes. It is imperative that you take responsibility for your actions and decisions from an early age so that you do not unknowingly set yourself back or derail yourself from achieving your goals.

“If you pursue something with enough passion, you will find fulfillment and success. Fulfillment is a choice. Be doggedly persistent in your pursuits.” ~ Gary Rogers (Productivity Coach)

As I often tell others, “Throughout your life knowledge appreciates, possessions depreciate.”  Don’t get stuck like so many before you in dead-end jobs or lifestyles as a result of trying to hold onto people or things due to a fear of losing them, a fear of change, or other fears you may possess.

Start investing in yourself now and continue to grow your future success.

How to Co-Exist with Emotional Parasites—A Cultural Epidemic

A lot of my blog readers have been reaching out to me and asking me to further explain my definition of “emotional parasites.” They ask me how they can identify who these potentially disruptive people are. The more important question they should be asking is how and why they are so harmful to one’s success.

How does one identify and protect oneself from these so-called predators? Like colds or viruses, people tend to attract these types of “parasites” (e.g. emotional vampires) when their self-esteem or emotional guards are down. Like a magnet, we tend to attract those individuals that seem more than willing to aid in our self-loathing rather than challenge us to get out of our own way. The boggled and debauched, as I liked to call them, are unhealthy, dysfunctional people that often intentionally or unknowingly manipulate or use others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. These people tend to deflect their own negative self-worth rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. They often pretend to be concerned or supportive of an unsuspecting victim’s uncertain or negative circumstance, but, in reality, they silently gain satisfaction and enjoyment by disclaiming and intentionally diminishing the success, spirit or character of their unsuspecting target.

To make matters worse, these emotional parasites will even go as far as making their victims feel guilty, and even responsible for their needs, playing on their guilt or misguided loyalties. I cannot begin to tell you how emotionally debilitating these cowardly people can be. They rarely own their own crap. They rarely apologize when wrong, and most importantly, they rarely respect YOUR needs, goals or requests unless it somehow benefits their own short-term purposes.

“When you say ‘yes’ to others, make sure you are not saying ‘no’ to yourself.” ~ Paulo Coehlo

Like anything important in your life, you always need to weigh the pros and cons. This especially holds true regarding the people you choose to include in your life. As I said earlier, the emotional parasites often tend to strike when you are most susceptible so I want to share three different scenarios that I have experienced that may make you more aware in the future:

1. The Bait and Switch – Unfortunately, there are individuals you will come across that have become master manipulators.  They study you and learn very quickly how to make you feel comfortable in their presence. They often tell you what you want to hear, pretend to like the things you like, or worse, create a false sense of security so that you take their bait. The only problem is…their actions are not sustainable over time because they are not being authentic to who they are. They are simply trying to get you to befriend them or, even worse, fall in love with them. NEWS FLASH: These manipulators have an agenda! So, you need to put their words on mute and study their actions. If you ask them questions and they become defensive, clearly you have unearthed a chink in their deceptive armor.  If this uncomfortable moment occurs, do not apologize; just continue to trust your instincts, keep your eyes open and be aware of any future inconsistencies.

2. Dismissive of needs – Recently, I witnessed a good friend of mine who reached out to a group of so-called friends requesting space and time to re-collect his thoughts while going through his tunnel of transformation. In the past, my friend had hit some tough times and these same so-called friends gleefully cheered him on by supporting his bad decisions and choices simply because it fueled their own unfulfilled needs. Yet, when my friend finally figured out that his choices were no longer productive in helping him find his success, he decided once again to reach out to these same so-called friends for support and understanding. Lo and behold, some actually became irate and dismissive with him because he changed his mind about how he had been leading his life—the same life they had been cheering him on with because it fulfilled their needs, not his.

3. Defensiveness (yeah, but you did this…) The last red flag that I would like to bring to your attention is a parasite’s failure to apologize.  Have you ever noticed when you call someone out on something you did not like, rather than receiving a simple apology from that person, you get a defensive response? It is almost like they are pissed off that you called them out on their agenda. In any healthy relationship, there are going to be times when you intentionally or unintentionally do something that upsets or hurts the other person. At this time, the correct response is to own and acknowledge your actions and not use it as yet another opportunity to point out an additional flaw or weakness because someone made you feel uncomfortable.

At the end of the day, an emotional parasite is simply projecting their fears. A successful person learns to manage their fears, as well as their relationships. As I share in my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, there are several reasons why successful people learn how to protect and cultivate healthy relationships and, at the same time, navigate around unhealthy people in order to achieve their desired outcomes.

I am hoping that the information and clarification I have provided in this post will allow you to recognize the warning signs early so that you can continue to grow your success.

Tunnel of Transition

“When someone says ‘you’ve changed,’ it simply means you’ve stopped living your life their way.” This is an interesting quote that I read this week, and it got me thinking about life shifts and transformations. One of the hardest yet most enlightening moments in a person’s life is when they finally decide to leave their unhealthy comfort zone and change the things in their lives that are no longer working.

In one of my recent blogs, I shared that my “a-ha moment” and my personal transformation toward success started with a simple question, “So, how is that life working for you?” As I have explained in that post, this was a simple question that really required me to be honest with myself and address those things in my life that were no longer supporting my desired probable outcomes for success. No excuses and no blame necessary; just me agreeing to take complete ownership of my life, right at that moment.

What I quickly came to realize was that I was no longer pursuing my passions and goals, but instead found myself surrounded by unhealthy people (e.g., emotional parasites) that did not support me and who did not have my best interests at heart. I recognized that I was simply making excuses as to why my life went off course, while at the same time continuing to enable my own bad decisions rather than deal with my immediate despair. Let’s face it: I had a bad case of mood-poisoning.

When I first began to write my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Personal and Financial Success, I had to ask myself a lot of difficult questions. It forced me to reflect on how and, more importantly, why I allowed myself to feel this way. Once I began to own the decisions and mistakes I had made, I started to re-claim my life. I soon began to realize that the awakening (e.g., the realization) phase of the transformation process was relatively simple. Through my own heightened awareness, I started to identify my bad behaviors including the negative programming and emotions I was feeling and projecting, as well as the re-alignment of my goals and probable outcomes. I did this by letting go of the people who had been unhealthy influences in my life and about my goals… It was exciting and reinvigorating. I was starting to become stronger as I felt things shifting. Then, as if I was running a marathon, I hit the wall. It was my tunnel of transition.

I define this “tunnel” as that uncomfortable phase of the transformation that resides between awakening and the new paradigm (e.g., the shift). And just like traveling through a real tunnel, at times it can feel claustrophobic. The darkness and uncertainty often trigger the anxious feelings you may get when you start to feel overwhelmed, especially when you begin questioning all the negative behaviors and obstacles you will have to overcome in order to break out of your current unhealthy comfort zone.

Despite these feelings of anxiety, I can assure you it is worth your efforts. As you enter your “tunnel,” you will need to remind yourself that you have chosen this new path for a reason; “your old life didn’t work anymore.”  If you choose to be patient, focused and disciplined, the discomfort you are likely to encounter on your personal transformation will result in your desired probable outcome of achieving success.

I am extremely fortunate that I did not allow fear and uncertainty to derail me from my new life. I had to persist until I found the light at the end of my tunnel. As a result, I was able to figure out how to re-align my future goals with my desired outcomes. I felt compelled to share the necessary steps you will most likely need to take if you choose to do this for yourself through these blog posts and in my upcoming book.

I hope I can inspire you as well to commit to growing your own future success.

So How’s That Life Working For You?

For anyone who has truly accomplished something important in his or her life, each person had to realize early on that ongoing success was something that did not come automatically, but rather something that had to be earned through a lot of tough commitments and hard work.

It is my personal experience that the true definition between a victor and a victim is simply one’s ability to own one’s mistakes and/or personal obstacles. Rather than acknowledging bad habits, decisions or mistakes, victims blame others for their lack of success and accomplishments. I am sure you have come across these self-loathing individuals that choose to blame the world rather than own their own crap, haven’t you?

I call these unfortunate people “the boggled and debauched” because they prefer to deflect their own negative self-worth issues by simply disclaiming others’ points of view, as well as intentionally diminish the success or character of others rather than deal with their own self-sabotaging issues. Unfortunately, unhealthy dysfunctional people often act as emotional parasites by either intentionally or unknowingly manipulating or using others for their own personal entertainment or distraction. In my upcoming book, Growing Success: A Young Adult’s Guide to Achieving Personal and Financial Success, I share a story about a frog and a scorpion and one’s ongoing need to be aware of others’ intentions despite inconsistent actions and words.

Luckily, successful people become acutely aware of unhealthy individual’s intentions, and as a result, ultimately learn how to engage and maneuver around them in order to protect themselves from potentially sabotaging outcomes.

In addition, successful people do not enable or make excuses for their own failures or bad behavior, but rather learn and grow from them. Recently I read a great anonymous quote, “Sometimes I win, sometimes I learn, everyone should replace the word loser with learner.”

As a life-long learner, my personal transformation for success started with a simple question that I had to look in the mirror and ask myself, “So, how is that life working for you?” A simple question that required no excuses, no blame, but simply a need to be honest with myself and my own fears. Yet despite its simplicity, this one question can elude and prevent the boggled and debauched from getting out of their own way and taking an honest look at themselves because it is easier for some to continue to live in denial and remain in their unhealthy comfort zone rather than accept their own shortcomings and disappointments.

If you are someone that finds yourself stuck or incapable of owning your own crap, STOP! Use this same unhealthy energy to become accountable for your own fears, decisions and outcomes. OWN IT!

If you want to be successful, take the time to look at yourself in the mirror, eye to eye, and ask yourself, “So how is that life working for you?”

Choose to finally be honest with yourself and ask yourself what steps can be pursued that will finally allow you to create your desired goals and passions.

What additional educational pursuits and/or authentic relationships are currently available to you that will help you achieve probable outcomes simply because you asked yourself an overdue question?

Most importantly, it’s time to stop projecting an unproductive victim mentality and the emotional use of others.

Right here, right now: it’s time to commit to fixing the problem, and not the blame. Start growing your future success now.