Principle #3 in Jack Canfield’s “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” book is “decide what you want.”
You can think of this as the vision of your perfect life. If you were living your perfect life, what would it look like? What would you have? What would you be doing? What would you be?
In other words, what do you really want?
I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. Following Jack’s teachings, I’ve enjoyed many successes in my life including starting a career as a writer and authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books that have helped tens of thousands of people get certified and get ahead in their careers. I credit much of my success to applying principles that he teaches in my life. He recently appeared on an Oprah Winfrey Super Soul Sunday show and I decided to go through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” again, covering one principle a week. When inspired, I’ll create a post for the principle such as this one.
Principle #3 is “Decide What You Want”
This isn’t clear to most people until they take time to identify it. And even then it isn’t always easy. Here’s one way that has worked for many people.
Pull out a piece of paper or open a computer document and put this question at the top: “What Do I Want?” Then start writing.
“I want _____________.”
Do this for at least 15 minutes and just keep the pen or keyboard active. Don’t stop and don’t evaluate anything that comes. Be honest to yourself and record whatever comes.
Many people find that they start listing material things such as a specific type of home, or a bank account with a specific amount of money. As they continue, they move to much more personal and deeper desires such as nurturing relationships with loved ones, happiness, and meaningful work in support of their life purpose.
Some personal growth seminars have people do a similar exercise for hours at a time, allowing them to get in touch what they really want out of life. Feel free to do it for longer than 15 minutes, but do it for at least 15 minutes to get something of value for yourself.
A Balanced Life
Once you have brainstormed a list, you can organize it into different areas of your life. Jack suggests you outline the vision of yourself in several areas such as:
- Health and fitness
- Fun time and recreation
- Personal and self-growth
- Business, professional, job, or career
Share Your Vision
Once you have a vision, share it with a good friend that you know will be supportive. What you will usually find is that others around you share the same vision as you. They want comfortable homes, full bank accounts, nurturing relationships, happiness, and meaningful work.
While attending a Breakthrough to Success seminar with Jack Canfield, we did a similar exercise and many of us ended with a written vision of our perfect life. Jack asked for volunteers to share their vision, and very few people raised their hands to do so.
Eventually, Jack asked “What is stopping you from sharing your vision with others?”
People in the group gave answers like “people will think it’s impossible,” “they might ridicule me,” “they might think I’m being too materialistic,” and “they might think I’m being unrealistic.”
However, I’ve stayed connected with many of the people from that group. They are very enthusiastic and supportive when it comes to supporting others pursue their passions and reach their vision.
That’s not to say everyone will be supportive, though. As Taylor Swift sings “And the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” Some people tend to focus on the negative. I don’t try to change them, but I do my best to create space between myself and them.
With that in mind, share your vision with someone that is generally positive and supportive.
Don’t Let Anyone Talk You Out Of Your Vision
When Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft, they had a vision of a computer on every desk and in every home. People laughed back then, but the vision has brought the knowledge of the Internet throughout the world.
After Jack Canfield and co-author Mark Victor Hansen wrote their first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, 144 publishers turned them down before one publisher agreed to publish it. They had a vision of selling 1.5 million copies of the book in a year and a half but their publisher laughed at them when they said so. Jack and Mark didn’t let them deter them. They exceeded that goal and the series was ultimately translated into 43 languages, published in over 100 countries, and sold more than 500 million copies worldwide.
Your vision might not be as big as theirs, but if they can do what they did, you can achieve your vision too.
The key is to identify your vision. The time to do so is now.