Most people have no clue what they want to do with their lives, even into their 50s. Even after finishing college, mapping out a career, starting a business, and making money, they still feel like they’ve not done something significant.
Seasoned entrepreneurs and members of The Oracles share how to stop feeling stuck and achieve what you really want.
1. Obliterate fear
For most of my life, I looked to society, my peers, and family to determine who to be and what to do. I achieved success with spectacular moments of pride and happiness, but they were fleeting. It wasn’t until I stopped trying to figure out what to be and instead, figured out who I was that I arrived at the intersection of great success, true happiness, and inner peace.
This path of self-discovery is a very personal journey. Mine started with sobriety through the 12 Steps, which prioritize honesty, accountability, and serving others. I started a daily meditation practice, which has been the most profoundly transformative experience of my life. The last and final piece was learning how face and walk through fear—one of the most limiting and destabilizing forces in my life. Fear kills more dreams than anything else, period.
Moving the center of gravity inside, facing myself, my past, and my fears, and making my life about something greater than myself doesn’t seem like the obvious answer to success. But in my experience, it’s the only answer. —Molly Bloom, entrepreneur,author, and inspiration for the Oscar-nominated “Molly’s Game”; built the world’s most exclusive poker club for billionaire tycoons and Hollywood celebrities. WatchMolly’s Game on iTunes!
2. Have the guts to explore
When I quit working on my first two successful ecommerce stores to become a professional poker player, my parents thought I was nuts! They told me I shouldn’t do it. Even though it was a huge gamble, I pursued what made me happy. Ten years later, I retired from poker and hopped back into ecommerce much wiser after it ingrained in me the best business lessons.
The big problem I see with many people is they live based on what society or their parents tell them to do. Ultimately, success is defined by what not only makes you happy but also by what fulfills you. Many people associate success with making more money, but that’s not always true.
If you're young or single, it's much easier to try anything you've ever slightly been inclined to do. If you're married with kids or getting older, it gets harder to try everything. But it's never too late. If you’re going to take a chance and do something you've always dreamed of, work extra hard at having reserves in place for you and your family.
Before you try to do those things you've always wanted but were too scared to try, ask yourself, "What's the worst that could happen?" When you answer it logically, you'll realize your fears aren't that scary at all. —Liz Herrera, founder and CEO of I Build Your Brand and former global top-20 online poker earner, as featured in “The Mental Game of Poker”; follow Liz on YouTube
3. Listen to your heart
Answering the question, “Why are you here?”, is the solution to your life. Unfortunately, only you can find the answer. Fortunately, when you do, everything else falls into place. As Mark Twain said, “The two most important days of your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why.”
When you find what you love and do it, you no longer feel perturbed. When you discover why you’re here, you’re inspired to fulfill it. The quality of your life is based on the quality of your questions, so ask yourself: “If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you love to do with your life?” Don’t worry about the fears and doubts, just answer the question. An inner voice may ask, “What’s your gift to the world?” Don’t stop until you find the answer. —John Hanna, author of "Way of the Wealthy" and CEO of Fairchild Group
4. Take inventory and find your ‘pull’
Some of us get caught up thinking we know what we want, but let others and society push us in one direction. Looking back, I was a manufactured person going from high school, college, marriage, house, kids, and career.
I’m reinventing what I want to do with my life now. It started with an Akashic Soul Record reading to understand who I am at a soul level, uncover my purpose, and eliminate some limiting beliefs I’d accumulated—for example, not feeling good enough or smart enough. I studied numerology, which confirmed my strengths and weaknesses. I’ve spent time with a few great coaches reflecting on what lights me up; I call this “my pull.” These few things helped me think clearer about who I am.
I’m exploring new things that feel right. If it feels good, I do more of it, and I’m more aware of why I like it. You may need to go inward to figure out what to do with your life. People change over time, so what you want now may change in 10 to 15 years. Be flexible and be open to new opportunities. —Tony Ricciardi, co-founder and president of ListenTrust; read more about Ricciardi: Why These Founders Train Their Employees to Quit
5. Make a priority list
Look back and see what you’ve accomplished. I recommend making a list of 100 things (minimum) you’ve achieved from birth to present. Start simple with things like learning to tie your shoes as a young child to being a good parent or launching a business.
Going forward, it will give an instant shot of confidence and a sense of accomplishment. Pick out from the list those accomplishments that had the most impact, you’re most proud of, or you loved the most. Once you have the revised list, prioritize it. Devote your life to doing more of the same.
Finally ask yourself, “What aren’t I doing that I’d like to do? How can I help others and be of maximum service?” Pray and meditate on it; see what happens. —Peter Hernandez, president of The Western Region at Douglas Elliman; founder and president of Teles Properties
6. Think beyond yourself
A meaningful life starts with a purpose that has nothing to do with you—it’s about using what you have to serve others. Too often, we see young entrepreneurs who want to be successful for the sake of living like a rock star with riches and fame. That wasn’t my purpose. I truly wanted to give back and serve in ways that would bring joy to everyone around me.
My passion is teaching, staying active, and startup growth. It wasn’t until I endured my own startup failure that I found purpose in helping other entrepreneurs scale their startup without repeating my mistakes. I’ve seen 144 startups come back from the dead through simple fixes like building a stronger team, cutting costs in areas where we didn’t know “why” we were doing certain things, and building an overall growth machine.
Don’t do things where you don’t know why you’re doing them. It doesn’t help you grow and scale your startup. —Sweta Patel, founder of Silicon Valley Startup Marketing, who has advised over 200 early stage startups and high-growth companies; connect with Sweta on Facebook and Instagram
7. Self-awareness creates gratitude
Know what your values are and what makes you tick—not just what looks cool. Although money and success are important in my life, I need growth, adventure, and contribution for fulfillment.
Several years ago, I took a month off and lived in Thailand. I saw people living on much less than we do in the West, yet they seemed genuinely happy and grateful. At the time, I judged myself as being ungrateful for the lavish trip, but the truth is, I loved learning fascinating details about the Thai culture, how to cook their food, and miserably failing at learning their language. Those extra aspects added so much joy and richness to my life, and they still make me smile today because I was behaving in line with my core values.
Recently, I watched Ray Dalio’s mini-series on his book “The Principles For Success” where he emphasized the importance of self-awareness for business success and personal happiness. I’ve heard other wildly successful cutting-edge thinkers and creators like Peter Diamandis and Sir Richard Branson make the same claim.
There’s no single or right way to determine your values, but self-awareness is where you must start to understand how to live a fulfilled life, on your terms. —Nafisé Nina Hodjat, founder and managing attorney of The SLS Firm
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This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors