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30-For 30/30 #17 – The Four Essentials of an Extraordinary Life

My extraordinary dad, who left us in 2017, in a rare moment of levity.

This is the 17th post in my 30 for 30/30 series where I am publishing a new post each day for the next 30 days within a 30-minute window without much of a plan. You can read about why I’m doing this by clicking this link.


We all want to live extraordinary lives. The problem seems to be that most associate an extraordinary life with a life that has already occurred; That does us little good in the present.

If we are to elevate our daily living to the level of the extraordinary, we need a step-by-step process. So, I came up with four logical steps for kick-starting this process.

They are as follows:

  1. Know who you are :: understanding what makes you tick
  2. Identify what you care most about :: identifying what’s truly important to you
  3. Translate your dreams into goals :: setting specific goals for growth
  4. Take consistent action :: taking at least one action every day toward achieving your goals

Let’s look at each of these steps.

Step 1 – Know who you are

Knowing who you are involved much more than simply reciting your name and basic demographic data. It’s a deeper level of knowledge that can be uncovered if you dig deeper. 

Discovering, perhaps for the first time, what’s true about you can be an illuminating experience. It can shine a light on motivations, strengths, and even weaknesses to overcome.

Personal Example: When I determined that I didn’t have any beliefs, it was mind-blowing. I’d taken for granted that belief was essential to being human. But what I discovered was that, for me, beliefs held no meaning at all. This knowledge was the foundation for my book, The Practical Buddhist, where I explain why my absence of belief actually led me to a more fulfilled, purpose-centered life.

Step 2 – Identify what you care about the most

If you don’t know what you care most about, you can’t expect to live a life that’s fulfilled. I can’t imagine anyone leading an extraordinary life with knowing what they stand for.  I’m also not talking about listing things like, money, success, my kids, owning a home, etc. I’m talking about the deeper issues like ending hunger in my city, creating a worldwide movement of people dedicated to awakening, bringing domestic violence into the mainstream awareness (as my friend Melina is doing).

There are deeper issues that each of us cares about the most. They drive us toward achieving a goal that’s inherently meaningful to us. This is the level of knowledge you must uncover as you dig deeper into what you care most about. 

Step 3 – Translate your dreams into goals

An extraordinary life is a goal-oriented life. The problem with living on auto-pilot is that you spend most of your time reacting to what life reveals and very little on achieving anything significant. You’re either a victim of your circumstances or you’re working to create your own circumstances. There is no middle ground.

ThriveThisDay.com

When you live an extraordinary life, you create a system of goals and work daily toward them. Goal setting doesn’t have to be a mysterious process.

In fact, my friend and colleague Elizabeth Miner over at ThriveThisDay.com just published a book that goes beyond the antiquated SMART goals and taps into a deeper, more meaningful way to discover, plan, and achieve your goals. Click here to take a look at her new book, The Flipside of Failure

Personal Example: A few years ago I set 17 specific goals. When I was at the halfway point in the year and reviewed the progress made on these goals I was a little shocked. While some are nearly complete, others have remained untouched. I had to decide if they were still relevant for my life. And that the cool thing about setting goals – they aren’t set in stone. Sometimes after a few months they lose their shiny quality and you can simply strike it from your active goal list and keep working on the goals that are still relevant. No harm, no foul. 

Step 4 – Take consistent action

Consistent action leads to consistent results, or so the thinking goes. Tony Robbins, the self-help seminar guru and author of Awaken the Giant Within, encourages his students that after setting goals that are relevant and tied to an emotional trigger, that they take massive action toward achieving them. I opt for using the term consistent action, but instead of enacting a frenzied chickened-with-your-head-cut-off type of action plan,  I encourage students to take one action each day to move your progress forward.

I still consider that massive action because the momentum you begin to experience when you act on a goal each day—like a rolling a small snowball into a giant snowman’s body—creates massive excitement and noticeable results. You pick up speed momentum, experience, and before you know it you’re closing in on your goal in record time.

Personal Example: When my son Benjamin and I first talked about the idea of taking an epic journey together across the country on motorcycle, it seemed kind of surreal. But working on route planning each day, looking at locations to lodge, places to stop and photograph, and budgeting the costs made it seem more tangible and real. In a few short months the day arrived and we started our epic journey. It was the daily action we took toward making it real that made all the difference.

What’s stopping you?

Is there something between you and the extraordinary life you want to lead? If there is, it’s closer to your goal that you are. The longer you keep the auto-pilot switched on, the longer your goal will seem surreal and unobtainable. 

But, if you want to lead a truly extraordinary life, you have the tools at your disposal to begin your own epic journey in life.

(30 minutes)



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