Your Before Picture and the Authentic You

Over time, you evolve. You grow and you change. You become someone different from who you once were. Some transformations occur slowly over the course of years, while others happen in just a few months. They all start by discerning that there is something more available to you, something more you are capable of becoming.

Your Work

You might have half a dozen jobs before you fully realize what your work is. A job may give you the chance to understand your work, but they’re not the same thing. A job is something you do to trade your time for money, even though your heart, your mind, and the essence of your being may be somewhere else. Most people have jobs, not work—sometimes because they are doing something they don’t love, and sometimes because they don’t love what they are doing.

When you are doing your work and practicing your craft, you bring your best self to the endeavor. You feel a sense of meaning and purpose. Your real work, the work you are supposed to be doing, never feels like work. Your real work feels like joy.

Your Purpose

Before you give yourself over to your purpose, you will search for something external. You will look for someone or something to direct you towards various goals, mostly things that other people might want from you. Much of your life is influenced by a series of “shoulds,” ideas about your life and your future, and your purpose based on what other people found valuable.

Your life, however, is your own. You were given it free and clear of any obligation to do what others might want for you.

The purpose of your life is to discover—or choose—your purpose, an idea with implications so great that most people avoid even acknowledging them. Once you accept that you must decide for yourself why you are here and how you are going to spend your life, you can start living who and what you are.

Your Personal Standards

Before you raise your standards, you will demand too little of yourself. The quality of your life, your experience, and your results flow from the standards you impose on yourself through radical personal accountability.

Life is hard on both extremes: when you have low standards and when you have incredibly high standards. It’s easy to see how low standards cause physical, mental, and psychological privation. But don’t think that high standards make life hard because they make you hustle. What makes for a hard life is quite the opposite: you are pure potential.

What you are capable of dwarfs the results you are producing now. Your life is going to be what you demand of yourself.

Who You Are

Before you know who you are, you will pretend to be someone else. We are indoctrinated with ideas about who we are supposed to be. Maslow’s hierarchy includes the need to belong, something that causes human beings to wear a mask, to fit in, and to join communities. We pretend to be someone else to prevent sticking out or being judged, and to eliminate the risk of being ostracized.

There are around 7.8 billion people on this tiny, unlikely rock circling a giant, burning ball of gas. While we all share more in common than we might imagine, what gives life its richness are the differences. There is no reason to believe that you have to fit in when there are 7,799,999 people who are all weird in different ways than the way you’re weird.

Those who make the most of their lives care little about what other people think or believe. They are who they are, and they refuse to settle for being someone they are not.

Your Focus and Attention

Before you know what you want, you will spend your time distracting yourself. When you don’t know what you want, you spend time on things that entertain you, occupy your time, and prevent you from having to face your real desire. Your time here is short, shorter than you might imagine. The sooner you invest the time to decide for yourself what you want, the more time you will have to bring your vision to life.

Some avoid this work because they believe what they want is out of their reach, something that is always true when they don’t put forth the effort. Others do so because they haven’t given themselves permission to believe they should have what they want. When you know what you really want, you will stop allowing distractions to dominate your time and energy, and instead give yourself over to your goals, dreams, ambitions, and personal development.

The Snapshot

Imagine taking a picture of your current state today. Let’s call today’s picture your “before” shot. When you take another picture twelve months from now, your “after” shot, what differences will those around you notice at first glance?

Filed under: Mindset

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