Is it possible that your life is not the joyful, effortless, successful, happy and carefree promenade that your heart desires because, in fact, you haven’t really got the first clue what your heart truly desires at all? I’ve been working with personal development or self improvement clients since the beginning of 1996. In my experience, almost nobody has ever given any thought to what they actually want out of life. Few have stopped to reflect on what their priorities are in life and for the few that actually have it’s often a wasted exercise because they might say things like family, health, fitness, holidays and good times are their priorities but the daily facts of their lives provide directly contradictory evidence.
The fact is that so-called normal people – you and I – are not in a position to know what we truly want out of life. We are programmed and subsumed by the norms of happiness and success that abound. These norms have been tacitly agreed on by normal people – but seventy years’ research proves that normal people are stark raving mad. These “success norms” are normally comparative and competitive – “My house is bigger than yours”, “He’s got a bigger car than me”, “The neighbours go on better holidays” (these are all real quotes, by the way) – and these are the norms that have got the world economy into the trouble in which it now finds itself. The few people who were positioned to get more and more and more, got more and more and more – and, in the end, it’s done no one any good.
But, more importantly, having been raised “normal”, having been educated “normal”, having found our place as adults in “normal” society, if someone were to ask you what your true definition of success were, if someone were to ask you what would provide you with ongoing personal happiness and success, you probably wouldn’t be able to give anything other than a “normal” crazy answer. That normal-crazy answer would approximate to what you want or, more to the point, what you think you want based on the norms of success and happiness. Indeed, as an important aside, it’s worth considering the case of one of my clients who, all his professional life, aspired to being the National Sales Director of a financial institution. On the day he achieved his goal he called me, saying “I’ve got to the top of the hill and, not only do I not like the view, I think I climbed the wrong hill!” The point is that your perception of what you think you want would not relate to either what you need or what might be best for you – points that I will come back to a little later.
For now, let’s take it that you think that you know what you want. If research, my own work with my clients and, indeed, my own personal perspective are anything to go by, what you think you want now would be different to what you think you wanted six months or a year ago. The point is that most normal people keep changing their minds about what they want or about what would turn them on. Routine, familiarity and boredom too often intervene to make the normal person restless and unfocused. Most people stay at anything long enough to make a success of it, their minds bouncing all over the place in terms of wants and goals. It is part of the normal human condition to be easily distracted and sidetracked. As a result, even if we do think we know what we want out of life, it is such a moveable feast as to be unobtainable. On the other hand, truly successful people are focused, single-minded, determined and committed – and in it for the long haul.
If you are to be abnormally successful, you have to approach the task of both setting your mind and committing to your goals in an abnormal fashion. The first requirement is time for reflection – to evaluate the things that are truly important to you and the things that will bring about lasting happiness and success. You might reflect on how you would direct your energies if you knew that your allotted time in this life were finite – which, of course, it is. You might reflect on what you would regret not having done or achieved if that allotted time were to end tonight. In other words, you might prioritize the key aspects of your life as they relate to contentment, peace of mind, happiness and success.
It then might dawn on you that what you need and what is best for you doesn’t quite fit with the normal definitions of happiness and success. When I mention this to my clients, they believe that I am using the word “needs” in the normal manner. I am not. All spiritual traditions talk of the purpose of life as being to live it to the full – now. “Needs” are not the basics of life, they are not what is required to exist at a level of subsistence. “Needs” and, indeed, what’s “best for you” are the things that will set you up for both success and happiness, the things that will enable you truly live life to the full. With that in mind, in reflective mode, you might redefine your thoughts on what you actually need out of life. Having done that, you then need to stick to your guns, not allowing yourself to be distracted by normal ideas or the latest trends.
Willie Horton has been enabling his clients live their dream since he launched is now acclaimed two-day Personal Development Seminars all the way back in 1996. His clients include top leaders in major corporations such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Merrill Lynch, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S and Allergan together with everyone from the stay-at-home parent to sports-people. An Irish ex-banker and ex-accountant, he lives in the French Alps from where he travels the world as a much sought after motivational speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net where is self-help seminars are now online. For more information visit Willie Horton’s Personal Development Website Gurdy.Net