When you’re at your best, fully thriving, and living in a way that’s consistent with who you were born to be, you’ve achieved what I call The Pinnacle. The Pinnacle is living at the peak of your existence.
Imagine living without compromise. Imagine fulfilling your dreams and desires, surrounding yourself with people you love, and engaging in activities that bring you the most joy. What would you do each day if you could design your life in any way you choose?
Take a few moments to think about this. I want you to dream.
Now, dream big.
Now, dream even bigger.
Assume there are no barriers to what you want.
If your optimal life is touring the world, then picture yourself sailing on your 300-foot yacht. If it’s playing golf every day, then envision yourself playing 18 holes in the morning and 18 in the afternoon. If it’s being married to someone you deeply love, having two wonderful kids, and being the CEO of a well-respected company, then create that image in your mind. If it’s writing and marketing a New York Times bestselling book, then picture that.
Don’t hold back. This is your ideal life. Design it however you like, without fear or limits. When you’re ready to describe what your optimal life looks and feels like, write it down.
Designing your ideal life is a powerful exercise that enables your soul to soar without restrictions. You may find that once you begin the first sentence, your hand can’t write fast enough as your subconscious kicks in and demands you recognize what’s most important. This happens because you seldom give yourself the Gift of identifying what would bring you meaningful pleasure and happiness.
It’s not your fault. The education you received at school hasn’t prepared you adequately for living an outstanding life. While you can read, write, and solve mathematical equations, you were never taught to strive for, and thrive at, the peak of your existence.
But that’s okay…because you’ll learn to do so now.
If you were honest, what you’ve just written reflects your deepest needs—so heed it. You have the ability to create the life you want and live at The Pinnacle.
Before you can begin the process of reclaiming your summit, however, it’s important to understand how you were knocked down from your perch.
You were born with extraordinary Gifts uniquely yours to harness, cultivate, and share with the world. As a baby and toddler, and even into adolescence, these talents were displayed raw and unrefined.
As you grew older, though, you likely encountered events that caused you to lose sight of some, or even all, of your natural capabilities. These events led you to adjust your identity, moving you away from who you truly are.
Examples of such personality-altering events include:
- Being chastised for acting inappropriately
- Being physically punished for displaying aspects of yourself that ran counter to someone else’s beliefs or tastes
- Trying out for something (the football team, the high school play) and getting rejected
- Asking someone out on a date and being told no
- Having a room full of students cruelly laugh at you for something you did
- Being discouraged by friends or family from pursuing your dreams
- Enduring emotional or physical abuse
No matter what age you were when the events that affected you happened, you were quick to recognize that behavior X resulted in pain Y. This was all it took for you to bury that particular way of being under piles of emotional baggage.
Physical and emotional anguish subsides over time. The real tragedy is when you never fully reclaim the part of your personality lost during such incidents. An integral part of who you are is banished to the nether regions, never to be seen or heard from again by anyone…including you.
That may sound dramatic, but it’s one of the realities of life. You do something that’s naturally part of who you are, and if you’re slapped down for it, you react. Too often, what gives way is your willingness to expose yourself again to the emotional or physical discomfort you experienced.
Each time you relinquish a piece of your core identity, you move further away from The Pinnacle.
I call this process of descent The Downward Slide.
Traumatic events aren’t the only factor. Another contributor is performing what you perceive as your duty. Whether you had a paper route, shoveled snow, or worked for your family’s business, you did what you believed was required of you. It may be that what began as a way to bring in some extra cash became a straight line to a career path—even if it was work in which you had no genuine interest.
Or it could be that you accumulated so much debt from your schooling that you took
whatever job you could find after graduation. It could also be that you turned your life upside down to accommodate your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse. Your good intentions for doing what was right, necessary, or expected of you became the grease on which you began your slide away from pursuing your true talents and passions—and from The Pinnacle.
Once you begin the free fall, it’s very difficult to reestablish your footing. Here’s a typical scenario:
1) You go away to attend college.
2) Upon your return you want to have your own place because that’s what college grads do.
3) You take on a job, any job, so that you can afford your own place.
4) Bills start to pile up—school loans, utilities, cars, insurance, rent, furniture—not to mention the expenses of actually living life, such as food, hobbies and dating.
5) You finally make a bit of money and you’re feeling pretty good, so you buy a nicer car, move to a nicer place, wear better clothes, and date higher-maintenance people.
6) Now that you have these nicer things, you must continue to work hard to pay for all of them.
7) You get married. You have kids.
8) You now have more mouths to feed and more responsibility on your shoulders.
9) You now have to work harder than ever just to cover your expenses. This might mean working overtime, or taking on a second job.
10) The more you look at yourself in the mirror, the less you recognize who you are.
Chances are the job you started in Step 3 had nothing to do with fulfilling your deepest desires or pursuing happiness. It was simply the most convenient route at the time for making money, with the goal of eventually becoming self-supporting and putting yourself in a position to pursue your dreams.
This self-created fantasy is wonderful; but the reality is often more of a nightmare. After submitting to that first soul-deadening job, the downward slide away from The Pinnacle increasingly picks up momentum.
While everyone has to pay the bills, too few of us end up in professions even remotely resembling our dream jobs.
Family and monetary obligations can run deep, and it’s certainly possible to feel you had no choice but to do what was required of you or to maintain the lifestyle you created. That said, you must own the fact that from this point forward, you are making a conscious choice to continue living this way.
You can’t blame others for the life you’ve picked. If you’re working in a dead-end job, it’s because you choose to be there. If you’re with someone you know is wrong or you, you’re not making the effort to leave and find someone who’s right. If you wake up miserable every day because of an event that occurred 30 years ago, you’re making a decision to allow what happened in the past control the quality of your life today.
You must begin to fight tooth and nail to reclaim your life and pursue what’s most important to you.
The first step may be as simple as giving yourself the time and permission to sit in a quiet place and start trying to identify your Pinnacle. Some people need to hit rock bottom before realizing they’ve been on a continuous downward slide. Don’t let that happen to you. Stop your descent right now. You have the power to ascend towards and reclaim The Pinnacle.
If you enjoyed this guest post by Steve Olsher, please sign up for your free copy of his latest book, What Is Your WHAT? Discover the ONE Amazing Thing You Were Born to Do at http://www.WhatIsYourWhat.com.
Steve Olsher is America’s Reinvention Expert and has taught thousands how to Nichetize!™ (nitch a tize) by identifying and monetizing their WHAT—that is, the ONE thing they were born to do. His singular approach for realizing permanent, positive change blends proprietary methods with ancient wisdom and revolutionary lessons from modern thought leaders forming a proven system for ultimate achievement in business and life.
He is the author of What Is Your WHAT? Discover the ONE Amazing Thing You Were Born to Do, Internet Prophets: The World’s Leading Experts Reveal How to Profit Online, and Journey to You: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Who You Were Born to Be.
He is the co-star of the groundbreaking film, The Keeper of the Keys with Jack Canfield, John Gray, and Marci Shimoff. He is also founder of the Reinvention Workshop, creator of Internet Prophets LIVE!, chairman and co-founder of Liquor.com, and president of Bold Development. Steve is an in-demand media guest who has appeared on ABC TV, FOX TV, CNBC.com and more than 300 radio shows including national shows hosted by Lou Dobbs, Jim Bohannon, and Mancow Muller.