For the majority of my life, I believed that the only way to succeed was to struggle. I thought that working 60 hours a week in a job I didn’t love was normal. And as I lived this way, society reaffirmed my beliefs. Everyone around me was doing the same thing and seemed perfectly content in doing it.
Living like this got me pretty far, at least by society’s standards. I got a few promotions. I made some more money. By my late twenties, things had gone from mediocre to pretty good.
But was that where I would have to settle? Was pretty good what the rest of my life would be about? I had to believe life was about much more. I had to believe that I could live life on my terms and make money doing something I truly loved.
Back then, it was easy to romanticize about this better life but it was hard to believe in it as I sat in my lowly cubicle scrolling through my phone. I saw travel bloggers on Instagram posting from Bali and startup founders in San Francisco taking their company public. I remember thinking that surely there was something different about these people. These people weren’t like me. They were on a different level; one that I couldn’t figure out how to get to.
For a few more years I struggled in sales roles that weren’t right for me. I continued to tell myself that I needed the paycheck to keep up with my standard of living. I told myself I couldn’t make it on my own like the travel bloggers and startup founders. I didn’t have it in my DNA. I didn’t have enough money. I was too average.
But when I got to New York and started meeting some of these people in real life, I couldn’t help but notice that they weren’t so different than me. There were only two major differences I could see.
The first was that they were actually doing the work they loved and not just thinking about it. The second difference, and the one that stuck with me for months after, was that they all truly believed they were going to make it. They believed in themselves, their vision and their mission. It was like they could already see their future unfolding before them without having lived it quite yet.
At first, this puzzled me. How could they be so confident in a dream that appeared to be so farfetched? Were they delusional?
But then I reflected back on my own stuckness and analyzed the thoughts that had been circling my mind. Up until that point, whenever I thought about going out on my own, I had allowed doubt to fill my mind. I’d tell myself a million reasons why my idea wouldn’t work and why I was stupid for even thinking it was possible.
I can see now that this was where I had failed. As soon as I let that shred of doubt creep into my mind, I had lost the battle. I had kept looking for evidence in the outside world that my idea would work, but the answer was within me the whole time. I could never create a successful business without first fully believing in it myself.
That’s what these entrepreneurs in New York had already figured out. That was the key difference between them and me. And if I wanted to be one of them, then I would have to start thinking like them.
From that point forward it became my mission to master my mind so that I too could believe in a better life for myself. Since then, everything has changed. I finally developed the courage to start my own business which, in five months, has led to working with a number of inspiring clients and landing paid speaking gigs. Incredibly, it has been just as I had imagined.
I just wish I could’ve told that younger version of me who was in that cubicle what I know now: Your thoughts become your reality, not the other way around.
Renowned author and personal growth guru, Jack Canfield, explains it best:
Scientists used to believe that humans responded to information flowing into the brain from the outside world. But today, they’re learning that instead we respond to what the brain, based on previous experience, expects to happen next. In fact, the mind is such a powerful instrument; it can deliver literally everything you want. But you have to believe that what you want is possible… Through a lifetime’s worth of events, our brain actually learns what to expect next—whether it eventually happens that way or not. And because our brain expects something will happen a certain way, we often achieve exactly what we anticipate.
If you’re not living to your full potential, look within for the reason why. Your life won’t change until you believe change is possible, but as soon as you do believe it the world will open up to you.