As I prepare to turn 41 years of age on August 17th, 2017 (in two days), and as my social media community inches closer to one million people from across the globe, I’ve learned a ton about people, life and the psychology of those who are happiest and living with deeper senses of joy (with myself included in that group, I can now say). Now, I seek to share what I’ve learned after decades of inner struggles, desire, determination, mistakes, self-sabotage and lots of good times as well. Call it “the opportunity to pay it forward,” if you will. Now then…

Self-Awareness Takes Time and Experimentation To Learn

For anyone looking for fast answers in point form, don’t waste your time – nothing worthwhile usually comes to us without effort and commitment (I learned this the hard way on numerous occasions). Life can feel like a never-ending treadmill to nowhere at times, no matter how hard you work at self-growth and achieving goals. I get it! God, do I ever get that. I wasn’t fully present in the moment for nearly a decade while fiercely chasing one particular dream of mine (the permanent tattoo still rests on my left arm as a reminder).

My point? You’ve got to ultimately trust in your journey, taking chances that feel like they need to be taken, learning from mistakes, working through shame, guilt and other issues from your past…you must stay the course. I know that now, having FINALLY arrived at a place of greater peace, acceptance and self-satisfaction and compassion than I could have imagined, frankly.

(Notice how I used the CAPS button and bolded the word FINALLY? The irony is that if I hadn’t gone through that often excruciating decade of aching desire and need to prove myself in society’s eyes (and my own as a result, I thought), I couldn’t have arrived at my current place of gratitude, peace and fulfillment/vindication for my past mistakes. In other words, there’s no easy road to anywhere worthwhile, and you can’t force it any faster, no matter how hard you try, no matter how strong you feel in the moment. It takes years of day in, day out effort (and a ton of learning along the way).

Who Do You Spend Your Time With?

Another key to my success has been in not going along with things, people and mindsets that didn’t feel right inside. I mean this with zero judgment to anyone, of course, but I was always the type of person who had to stubbornly do my own thing, even if it got me in trouble (and believe me, it did at times – very costly trouble).

While nothing is ever guaranteed in life (something that we all must accept and understand as we keep pushing forward anyway, since that’s part of the magic of this whole adventure), there’s a ton of truth in the saying that who you associate with is who you become. I can promise you that this statement is largely bang-on – I only need to look back a decade to see several examples of this in action in my own life. From a life-long friend lost in addiction (who I had to say goodbye to for my own health, since he was directly putting me in danger if I continued to allow it) to rushing into unhealthy relationships with women, to several other examples I’ll save for another time.

In a nutshell, if you want to truly live your dreams and a better life, you’ve got to associate with people that support you and make good decisions themselves. No doubt about it. So how do you stop negative people from interfering with your greatness? I’ll tell you.

Growth Mindset is EVERYTHING, come hell or high water

I could go on for pages and pages with tools for preventing negativity from holding you back, but to bring the most value for now, get familiar with the term “growth mindset” – read that article, study the concept, make it part of your regular thought pattern and self-talk (also check that link out to learn more from one of my earlier blog posts on the subject) as well.

There isn’t one silver bullet that will make everything “perfect.” It takes an open mind, a good support circle of any number of positive people around you (the internet is full of us!) and regular reminders that the worst of times teach us the most strength, resilience (another huge topic of interest that I’ll be addressing in future posts and videos) and wisdom for what isn’t working so that we can push ourselves to grow and take different approaches to get where we want to be, day by day, brick by brick.

Do NOT stop, and be sure to ask for help along the way when you get tired and want to give up. Help can simply mean taking a step back to regroup and recover, by the way – I do it regularly, calling it a “tune-up” to hit the reset button and start fresh, leading from my heart.

Yours in fierce commitment and purpose,