Enemy in the Mirror
You haven’t quit the job that you don’t like.
You haven’t gone on that dream vacation.
You haven’t started the side business you’ve been toying with in your head.
The book is still left unwritten. You aren’t as trim and fit as you wish to be.
Well, the prevailing reason for your condition is YOU.
That’s bold, harsh and in your face but it’s the honest truth.
I want you to hear the thoughts that my mentor had before taking the actions needed to create his dream life and leaving his corporate job. See if you can relate.
“I’m no exception. I’m painfully guilty of letting excuses get in my way. For years I would fantasize about that day when I would start my own company and have the financial freedom to retire whenever I’d like.
And for 15 years I did nothing meaningful toward that dream. I followed the conventional path of going to college, getting a corporate job, saving in a 401k, getting a mortgage, and complacency set in. And honestly, it’s not a bad life at all. In fact, my life is charmed.
But if I am honest it falls considerably short of the life I know I can accomplish. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at being CEO of my own company. So I got an MBA, climbed the corporate ladder, read tons of leadership books, and poured through articles from inc.com and linkedIn.
But in the end, I never took any real meaningful action. I always told myself “I’m a risk-averse person.” Which was just a thinly veiled excuse for saying “I was afraid of failing.” And I’m still a little afraid. But I decided to take the plunge anyway. Here’s how it started…
I wish I could say a switch just went off in my head one day and the rest was history. The truth is, it was a series of little cuts where I realized I wasn’t fulfilled at my job, I wasn’t my healthiest, and I wasn’t satisfied with my progress in life.
One summer I was driving back from a summer vacation where I was begrudging going back to reality and I just couldn’t put my finger on the unsettled feeling I had. I wanted to prepare better or do something more with my life somehow. I was floundering in my life. I gradually realized I wasn’t investing in my life dreams.
I would look at the person in the mirror and think to myself “What are you doing?” Over a period of several months of reflection, I finally realized the only way things are going to change is if I do it. I wasn’t going to miraculously win the lottery or plop into the reality of one of my fantasies unless I built it myself.
It was time to get busy working on myself, and I started my own side hustle business of investing in real estate. This blog is about that journey. I’m about 18 months into the process. I’ve started my business. I hired a virtual assistant. I’ve committed to thwarting the enemy I face in the mirror every day.
One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned in my life is to focus on what is in my sphere of influence. Said another way, focus on what you can control. One of the only things in life that are directly in my control is my choices. The choices we make define us.
When I was searching for my purpose, I started looking at myself in the mirror while shaving in the morning.
I was looking for an answer to my “problems.” And in the end, both the problem and the solution was staring right back at me. I have an exercise I describe in the next section. Before you do it answer these three questions on a piece of paper. And I mean literally get out of a piece of paper and write this down in your own handwriting.
- Describe to yourself what your dream life is in 3 sentences?
- If you could send your younger self of 10 years ago a message about what you know now, what would it be? (It can only be 100 words).
- Do you believe you can do anything you want?
Now, I suggest you try something a little odd. Roll with me on this because it’s different. And you are going to want to be alone for this. Have I scared you yet?? It will be beneficial for you.
After reading this article go to a private room that has a mirror — like your bathroom. If you aren’t in a place where you can do this now, schedule a time tonight where you can make it happen. Reread this article and do this exercise.
Now that you are in front of a big mirror lean over to where your face is about one foot from the mirror.
Now stare into your own eyes for at least 60 seconds. But the longer, the better.
Try for 2 to 3 minutes.
I’m talking about look directly into your own pupils. You’ll need to choose one pupil, and just really stare without moving at all. You’ll notice your pupil size adjusting a little. You may also see the color of your iris in a way you haven’t before.
But this is not about vanity, your hairstyle or your complexion.
It’s about seeing your real self. If you haven’t done this before, it can be pretty freaky. Open wide and stare into your “soul.” There is no agenda other than to focus on the experience. What’s going on in there?
Okay, how did that go? Did you do it? Only you will know, and you will just be cheating yourself if you didn’t do it.
Now I suggest you grab the same notebook you answered your questions on and write “3 pages” in the notebook. Nothing is wrong, just write. Crying is okay. Unleash your worries, fears, hopes, and dreams or what you had for lunch. Seriously nothing is wrong.
Just open up and let it out. Even if you end up burning the pages afterward, get everything out in your own handwriting.
When I do the mirror reflection, I sometimes feel my fears welling up inside. Other times I discover an untapped inner drive.
But usually, I just find plain and simple little ole me. I’m happy with who I am as a person, but I’m not satisfied with my actions; however, these steps are what I am meditating on daily to correct. I am re-writing my story. I challenge you to do the same.
Who do you find in the mirror? I suspect you found your fiercest enemy and your greatest ally. Start now, and begin to re-write your story.”
So, what are you going to do with yourself, your life, and your responsibility to your future self? I believe each of us can build the life of our dreams. But it requires taking responsibility for our choices.
I’ve heard an analogy of snowflakes adding up to make a snowball that then turns into an avalanche. So these little daily habits are like gathering snowflakes.
After some pretty harsh reflection, I had to be honest with myself. Where I am in your life is a result of the choices I have made, are making every day and will make for years to come. I must take responsibility for my choices – even the little ones that don’t seem like a big deal – they add up. These small decisions can be the hardest ones of all because they are so easy to blow them off as not counting.
Many will say we are a victim of our circumstances and to a certain extent that is true. But for those of us fortunate enough to be able to be on the Internet reading this article, we have sufficient infrastructure, and enough of our basic needs met so that we can influence the trajectory of our lives.
We all do it every day.
We are not indentured slaves to work for another if we don’t wish it. We can eat foods that make us feel better. We can put our bodies to the test physically and feel confident about our abilities. But it’s hard to do this consistently to create noticeable results.
The philosophy I’ve developed is to live a self-directed life where I’m always improving, learning something new, and challenging myself. I find excitement in this, and with it, I find excitement in helping other people achieve their goals and dreams. I enjoy meeting new people and am beginning to fall in love with pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. (Sometimes I struggle with being outside of that “safe zone.”)
I invite you to join me, and we can share our struggles together. The first step is actually wanting to change your life. So I return to the first question I asked. Are you living the life of your dreams?
I’m am working on it. My dream is to lead a self-directed life where I’m in control of how I spend my precious resources of time, money and energy and who I spend it with. So I’m working on changing that.
Part of that is to commit my thoughts “on paper” and publish them out in the world so that it helps keep me accountable and hopefully can help someone else, too.
If you aren’t living the life of your dreams, are you willing to commit to change it? No one else is going to do it for you.
In light of the message in this article and the mirror reflection exercise, what are YOU going to do for yourself starting today?
Only you can direct your life towards your dreams! I’m rooting for you and encourage you to join me in this journey of life.