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How to go from merely existing to living life fully



For over fourteen years I have had the privilege to work with men and women who are experiencing homelessness.  Throughout those years I have been duly impressed by the ability of these men and women to find ways to survive.

How to go from surviving to thriving

Some have learned how to eat out of the trashcan, others have learned how to create makeshift shelters out of junk and others know how to manipulate and cajole their way to sleep on someone’s couch.  They are the ultimate in survivors.

While I am impressed with their abilities I consistently remind them that they were designed for more than that, they were designed to live an abundant life.  This abundant life will fulfill their dreams, give them significance, give them love and most importantly give them the opportunity to inspire others to succeed.  But how do we get them there?


The changes must become a must

Leadership master, John Maxwell, had been inspiring men and women for years with his insights and inspiration toward becoming the best leader that you can possibly be and has written dozens of books, created videos and led more seminars than there are hairs on my head.

As a result of his busyness he pushed himself hard, poor diet and little sleep were a consistent part of his lifestyle.  Certainly as he worked alongside other leaders he felt that he should take better care of his body by eating right and exercising.  This should became a must after he had a heart attack.  That emergency woke him out of the should and propelled him into the musts.

He refers to that moment as a defining moment that caused him to reevaluate what was really important.  After the recovery from the heart attack he became motivated to choose how to spend his time and how to choose his diet more wisely.


Many of us know that we should spend more time with our family.  We should spend more time reading and less watching television.  We should eat right and exercise.  As long as these items stay in the realm of the “should”s we can never muster what we need to make it a long term and lasting change for our lives.  What will it take for you to turn your “should”s into a must?

Hopefully, you don’t need to have some real life crisis to propel you there.  Unfortunately many people do.  We can create our own mock crisis by setting goals like running a marathon, interviewing for a job or just some other not life threatening but still serious personal crisis.

My mom once bought a dress for my sister’s wedding that she could not fit into as of two months before the wedding.  She really wanted to wear that dress it became a must as she got closer to the wedding.  She succeeded.


They must believe that they can change

All of that “must” business is great but what if you believe that it is impossible.  Many of the men and women I work with have so many excuses.  Typically in an early conversation with them they will list for me all of the things they have tried or all of the things that they cannot do.

These lists are sometimes pretty extensive and they are serious when they say that they don’t believe that they can pull it off.  On most occasions I must cut them off and ask them quite simply, “What can you do?”  Every time that they try to go back to the list of things they cannot do I interrupt them and ask them what they can do.

Ultimately they come up with a short list of things they can do.  That is where we start.  As we set their goals we will discuss how they can use those things that they are confident are in their wheel house to achieve them.  Amazingly for most after a taste of success they don’t want to go back.


They must believe that they must do the work

We live in a world of excuses.  There is always someone else to blame.  Parents are great target but bosses, teachers, police and even the President of the United States are to blame for their problems.  Many sit around waiting for someone else to come and fix everything and make it better.  The reality is that the only one who can do the work is your very self.  We must determine that we are going to do whatever it takes to get well.  Don’t sit around and wait for the doctor to cure your illness.  Do the research; push the doctor by asking smarter questions.  Look for cures that are being developed in other countries.  The point is that we must strive to overcome all obstacles.   I am so amazed by in Nick Vujicic; who has lived his entire life without arms or legs, yet he seeks ways to overcome obstacles and never gives up.


They must find the right motivation to change

Not all reasons to change are created equal.  Sometimes that motivation is just not enough to push us through those days that we want to quit.  In order to be strong enough the motivation can be either positive or negative.  An example of a positive motivation would be that you will choose to eat right and exercise so that you can play with your great grandchildren when you are ninety years old.

A negative motivation might be that you don’t lose weight you will experience the pain of walking.  Either way works or you might need a good blend of positive and negative to push us over the top.  One of the great innovations of our time is to bribe ourselves. is where you can automatically make a donation to your favorite charity for a positive motivation or if you fail that donation will go to an opposing charity.  This is a brilliant blend of positive and negative reinforcement.


They must continue to adjust their plans to succeed

As you progress on your quest to live an abundant life it is likely that some of the things that you do will work, others will not.  Keep adjusting and working to overcome and keeping what works, dismiss those things that don’t work.  The key is remember that you have not yet tried everything.  If your desire for a more fulfilling life is strong enough you will find the creativity to get there.


It is your destiny to live an abundant life.  Do not settle for less.  There may be moments when you desire to quit.  When they come up find someone that believes in you to remind you that you can do it.  As my father in law is fond of saying, “Kick the can’ts in the pants.”

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