Last week I shared the idea that adopting an entrepreneurial mindset will lead you to becoming more intentional in how you build your career—where you dictate your schedule, your whereabouts, your earning potential, and are fully aligned with your passions.
Pushing you to become the most powerful version of yourself, personally and professionally.
It’s so easy to fall into a sense of learned helplessness, where you keep working in a less than stellar environment because you think that’s what work is like everywhere. My goal is to share what’s available and possible outside of the norm, and lend a fresh perspective to see it.
I get a lot of questions about the big shifts I’ve made in my life when it comes to freedom, travel, money, and impact.
To boil it down… I simply realized that I needed to make my own magic happen. If you’re reading this article, I assume that you’ve had this realization as well.
Regardless of the hustle culture, regardless of the Unicorn startup culture, regardless of the career ladder culture, regardless of anything else that represents “success” at this given moment: define your ideal lifestyle first, then build your career alongside it.
Wherever you are today, it’s enough to get started—you already have the building blocks to achieve your goals. The secret is in reframing what you think you want from your goals, to what you actually want as the result. We’re often much closer to our ideal lifestyle than we think… and only a few small tweaks away from exponentially improving our state.
These “small tweaks” have taken me a solid five years to build into my life, but have led to a place of unlimited personal drive in building out my dream life and career.
In the following sections, I’m sharing some practical examples of how I’ve built a career that incorporates more of what drives me—freedom, travel, money, and impact.
I remember quitting my first corporate job. My single goal was to wake up every morning without an alarm clock.
It was a small goal that signified a bigger shift: taking ownership of the hours in my day.
Fast forward a handful of years and, ironically, I’ve joined the 5am club. Not only have I joined it, but I’m a very enthusiastic member of it.
I thought freedom was waking up with no alarm clock. Instead, it’s the lack of desire to escape your current routine. You experience total freedom when what you get up for is playing in your zone of genius, enjoying the environment around you, and feeling in control of your whereabouts—not from disappearing to a deserted island.
With this new perspective, freedom becomes much easier to reach.
So if owning a business is not your jam, don’t force yourself into it. Despite what we’re told, freedom is just as much of an effort for entrepreneurs as it is for employees.
And if owning a business is your jam, but you’re still searching for freedom, please read Make the Noise Go Away followed by Rocket Fuel. Especially if you’re a creative visionary without a clear-headed integrator by your side running the show. Your lack of freedom probably comes from your ego not letting you relinquish control, not letting you automate, and not letting you hire a second in command who will compensate for your weaknesses.
We should all be eliminating those things outside of our zone of genius and doubling down on exactly those things that we bring exponential value to.
What drains your energy that you can start letting go of today?
Waiting all year for a three-week escape from reality is probably not the ideal for many. Neither is the alternative of becoming a travel blogger.
Thankfully, there are a number of other ways to incorporate travel into your lifestyle.
One of my biggest mind shifts was realizing I don’t actually enjoy laying on the beach all day.
I like a good routine. I like feeling productive every day.
And while I love stepping out of my bubble to gain perspective and refresh myself with a new culture, I don’t want this at the expense of losing momentum towards my goals.
I began to re-define how I thought of travel.
In my first year of working at Shopify I didn’t take a single day of vacation. Not because I couldn’t—Shopify essentially has an unlimited vacation policy—but because I had the freedom to travel and work at the same time.
I incorporated travel into my life, not as an escape from my life.
When you get intentional about integrating travel into your life, you’ll find a million ways to make it possible for you. It’s no coincidence I joined a company where a physical presence is not mandatory.
What adjustment can you make today to move towards your version of an ideal travel lifestyle?
Money shouldn’t be the end goal, but money is an important piece to achieving your ideal lifestyle.
I’ll often see a divide here: those who sacrifice their happiness to get more money, and those who sacrifice money to be more happy.
Neither approach is practical or sustainable.
I think it might even be the reason why personal development has such a bad rap. Books like The Secret are often disregarded as delusional. But positive thinking is only delusional when you’ve forgotten we live in a capitalist society.
Money for the sake of money is also delusional in its own way if you don’t understand why you are chasing it. There’s a difference between end goals—those desires you ultimately want—and means goals—the steps to get you there. Many of us wrongfully focus on money as our main goal instead of the actual experience that we’re hoping to achieve. We choose an arbitrary goal of having a million in the bank because we think that will get us everything we want.
I truly doubt that laying in a bathtub full of money is comfortable or anyone’s actual end goal. So get creative with achieving your goals in indirect ways—not always money driven.
Based on where you are today, could you make some of your goals happen without first needing a million in the bank?
I ask this because too many people focus so much on making money that they inadvertently move themselves further away from their goals.
I’ve opted for a more balanced approach: one step towards increasing my earning potential followed by one step towards greater self-awareness for how I want my life to look.
Instead of denying yourself travel, why not strive to join a company that will encourage and fund your trips?
Instead of downgrading your living standards, why not launch a side hustle that covers your higher bills and moves you further along your career path?
If you have other creative solutions to achieve your goals, please share in the comments!
Getting intentional about your impact at work requires a bit of goal setting on what you want to accomplish. Whether as an intrapreneur, freelancer, or business owner, ask yourself what value you’re best equipped to drive and what muscles you want to develop during your time there.
When you align your daily tasks to your personal life quests, it not only gets more interesting, but you start bringing more value to the table.
There’s a difference between having a J-O-B and being an intrapreneur within an organization. You don’t need to flip your career upside down or set up a tent on the beach to notice a positive shift.
Small tweaks in how you align your job to your ideal lifestyle will bring exponential success to your level of impact. It will ensure that your intrinsic motivation kicks in and you’re acting like an owner of your role—because although you don’t own the company’s direction, you do own the direction of your growth.
If this sounds impossible at your current role, it could be that your employer doesn’t support this kind of personal development. Trust me, I’ve been there. And my solution was to look for greener pastures elsewhere. Don’t be afraid to make a big jump. Or if you’re lucky enough to be part of a company that encourages entrepreneurship and learning, then become intentional with crafting your impact and direction!
The point here being—your level of action is dependent on where you are today and how far you want to go. But as I’ve said, you have enough right now to start making that first move.
As I continue to flush out my ideal life and career, I’m asking these questions for every decision that comes into my life:
Will this allow me freedom?
Does this encourage travel?
Does this support my financial goals?
Will I be driving impact from my zone of genius?
Asking these questions leads me to the north star of what my ideal lifestyle looks like. As I grow and my priorities evolve, I’m sure new questions will bubble up. But for now, they are what drive me.
What are your life and career drivers?