How to Live the Dream

“Living the dream” isn’t sipping Pina Coladas on a Mexican beach.  It isn’t sleeping until noon and lying on the hammock with a good mystery novel.  It isn’t working a four-hour workweek where the rest of the time is spent window shopping and gabbing in cafes.

That’s not truly living, at least, not in my mind.

I believe genuinely living is getting up early and training in the gym.  It’s working hard each day while intending to work even harder the next day.  It’s getting at least 1% better each day at everything you do, so the cumulative effects over time are magnificent.  Finally, it’s using your mind more and more actively throughout the day so that you maximize every precious minute of performance.

Now, that is truly living.

Here’s how you can live the dream, in my view:

Focus exclusively on your strengths.

In last week’s article, I said to focus solely on your strengths.  But I also said that if you keep tripping at the fifty-yard line, you’ll need to fix what went wrong.  But I was wrong.  The aim is not to dwell on why you may have tripped.  Instead, the aim is to assess and build on your strengths, which serve as workarounds to your weaknesses.

Use visualization.

In downtime, avoid thinking about issues or complaints.  Instead, picture yourself as if you’re in a movie theatre, watching yourself doing the day’s tasks with increasingly high proficiency.  Throw in visuals of your glory moments, too.  But to get to those glory moments, the daily tasks are vital.  The more you visualize, the more your mind translates those visualizations into long-term success.

Use positive self-talk.

A friend and former colleague often says, “Whatever happens, I always find a way to make it work.” Now, that’s positive self-talk.  Positive self-talk can guide you to success even in your darkest moments.  Positive self-talk is never airy-fairy.  On the contrary, it has merits, such as health benefits, including joy and stress reduction.  So, whenever you have a stressful thought, flip it to a positive.  It’s part of training your mind.  If you can maintain a constant state of positivity, you can accomplish anything, in my view.

Firmly choose highly disciplined thoughts and actions. 

Make strong, committed decisions throughout the day.  For instance, perhaps you like to sleep in.  If you’re in bed and the alarm goes off, then say something strong like, “I’m getting up straight-away to drink a healthy shake, make the bed, do the laundry, groom myself, and get to work.” But say it firmly and follow through.  Or, if you are procrastinating with studying, say, “I’m going to crack open my math text and start solving problems.” But say it with conviction and fire.  Make that conviction and fire your motivator throughout the day.

Keep your energy high. 

With positive self-talk, healthy choices, a healthy diet, the right balance of sleep, and a fitness regime, you can maintain high stamina throughout the day.  Then, draw on this stamina to push yourself to even better performance levels.

In my opinion, living the dream is not a cruise to Aruba or a ticket to the theatre.  Instead, living the dream is the “process” of getting better, smarter, kinder, more productive, and more successful—every day.  After all, you are built for high performance!