Something happened to me in 2012. I caught fire. Not literally, but most definitely metaphorically. Back then, I was a floundering young professional with a finance degree, crushing debt, and little else. I commuted an hour and a half one way to work a dead end job at an investment firm with no chance of becoming even the most junior of partners.
Looking for any way out, I downloaded this new Apple app called “podcasts" and desperately searched “entrepreneur.” With that, my life changed, and I don’t think I’m overstating it.
The first hit was a podcast called Entrepreneur on Fire ("EO Fire") by John Lee Dumas. I downloaded it, listened to an interview with Tim Ferris, and my head exploded. Just kidding. It actually took a little while to come around to this new form of content, but love it or hate it, I’ve been listening every day since.
Although John’s podcast is geared toward entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs, it gives so much valuable information on how to live a life that matters. Whether you’re a stay at home parent, a young college student, or a fortune 500 CEO, you’d be crazy not to listen.
With that being said, there are common 5 themes I’ve picked up on after catching fire, 5 days a week, for two years now:
Your mindset is the first step to any lasting change or significance in life. How you perceive the world directly creates the reality you live. If your mindset is one of positivity, tenacity, ambition, and happiness, than your reality will one and the same. If your mindset is one of negativity, blame, hopelessness, and laziness…well, you get the picture.
Before we can live a life that matters, we have to believe we can live one. We need to focus on self improvement and consistent growth, but to do that, we need the right mindset first. Everything that proceeds your mindset is a direct result of your mindset.
A positive mindset is great, but without knowledge, that mindset will go nowhere. Teach yourself. Learn from people. Books, podcasts, and other audio/video content should be part of your everyday routine.
With self education, you’re able to learn vicariously through some of the greatest minds in history. You can see both their failures and their triumphs, so you know what to avoid and what to pursue.
Education is great, but there’s a reason why the saying “if you can’t do, teach” rings true. It’s because even though self education is immensely important, it’s worthless if you don’t use your knowledge in the real world.
Education is wasted if it isn’t leveraged. The only way that what you learn will actually stick is if you field test it in the real world. If what you learned in a book works in your life, than forge ahead! If what you learned doesn’t work in your life, then you now know a path you shouldn’t pursue. Time to hit the books again and try something else.
The reason why most people never turn self education into experience is fear of failure. But the only real failure is not trying. Use your education and turn it into experience. Positive or negative, it’ll be worth it.
It’s safe to say that everything positive in your life comes from the experiences you have and the people you share them with. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters: people.
With this in mind, the most important action you can take to live a meaningful life is to network. Some connections can help you immediately, some might help you years down the road, and others might just end up being great friends.
More important, however, the connections you make provide you the opportunity to add value. By focusing on adding value to the lives of the people you meet, the reciprocity will be undeniable and immediate. Grow your network by growing your ability to help those around you. If nothing else, this alone will cause you to lead a life that matters.
As with anything in life, always follow the plan and put in the work. This is so important I’m going to type it again, and then I want you to read it twice over: follow the plan, put in the work.
Nothing you want in life is going to come easy and quick. Almost all overnight successes were 30 years in the making. But if you set a plan and follow it, chances are you’ll get what you set out to achieve. If not? Great! Another chance for a real life learning experience, after which the process repeats itself.
No matter if the going is easy or tough, stick to the plan and put in the work. Compounding daily achievements will amount to a mountain of attained goals and the most meaningful of lives.
Podcast listener or not, these 5 themes are essential to living a life that matters. And remember, when it comes down to it: follow the plan, put in the work.