I was invited to speak in a High School as a motivational speaker this week about achieving your dreams. That’s pretty cool especially because I was a total screw-up as a young person. I’m pretty proud that I’m now respected enough to be seen as a leader who can teach people how to achieve their dreams.
I told the kids not to stress about understanding their entire purpose in life all at once. Their purpose will come in time. The secret to a successful life, I said, is by staying out of three prisons that will try to incarcerate their souls. More on these prisons below, but here are the main ideas I tried to inspire the kids with:
I tried to go deeper than a normal motivational speaker would. I wanted to share some of the insights that I have learned in my 37 years of experiencing failure and success. Insights such as: There’s many prisons you can get trapped in if you’re not careful with your decisions.
I talked about my past drug-use in my teenage years, and struggles with my addictive personality throughout my life. I described my feelings when I lost a good friend to a drug overdose when I was 21 years old, and how that horrible event impacted all of my views on life. I talked about how I chose to abandon many of my old destructive behaviors and relationships after my friend died, and how I pursued a better life that has led to me to the drug-free and successful life I live now on a daily basis.
Ultimately, I tried to inspire them that they can live any dream they want to in life if they start with small goals, and raise their goals with each achievement they make. What insights have I learned in my 37 years of life that are worth sharing? To me, life is pretty simple and awesome if you can just master this one powerful insight:
Avoid bad decisions that will incarcerate your soul, and turn your life into a prison, and you will be free to live your dreams forever.
Important note: And I don’t just mean the physical prisons. Every person knows they should avoid the obvious prisons, such as: jails and correctional-institutions. But I told them there are many other “invisible prions” that are just as damaging to creating happiness as real prisons. These “invisible prisons” come in many shapes and forms, such as: mental, emotional, and financial cages we lock ourselves in each time we make a bad decision.
I told the kids that the secret to achieving your dreams, is to make decisions that will lead you to freedom, and not get you trapped inside physical, mental, and emotional cages, such as:
Too many people in the world get stuck inside self-esteem prisons because someone lied to them in their life. They get caught in these psychological prisons because some loser in their life once told them they weren’t smart, pretty, or good enough. They were told they wouldn’t amount to anything by someone who probably hadn’t amounted to anything, and they make the mistake of believing them.
I explained that these lies then create cages inside our minds and they trap our souls inside them. These lies become like vampire leeches that slowly suck our self-esteem out of our souls. People who believe lies about themselves become locked in emotional cages for 10, 20, 30+ years, (or their entire life), because they choose to believe they’re not good human beings. But the truth is nothing is wrong with them. They are exactly who they should be. They just believed the lies of another flawed human being.
Achieving your dreams, is all about escaping these mental prisons that want to steal your potential, and lock you inside a black hole of depression. The secret to success is to unlock your mind from these cages of lies and harmful thoughts. Listen to your heart. Be who your soul wants you to be. You are good enough. You are pretty enough. You can be a warrior. You can change your life. You can do anything you set your mind to as long as you’re willing to work your butt off to achieve your dreams.
I told the kids that as they graduate college, there’s going to be a lot of banks, credit card companies, and loan sharks that will come hunting for their money. These credit and lending operations are going to seem friendly and helpful at first. They are going to offer to pay for their education, and buy them a new car, and a home, and a bunch of nice clothes, and a bunch of junk they really don’t need, as long as they keep signing on the dotted line every time new a new loan is approved and their credit limit increases.
But I warned the kids: it’s all a trap. Those loans are just financial prisons they want to get you in. Financial prisons look like fun and a great deal at first. Until you realize they have to pay it all back with monthly payments eventually. Those monthly payments become so big and overwhelming eventually that they start feeling like nooses around your neck. Suddenly your freedom to do what they want with your life is gone. Your ability to think about the dreams you want to pursue is also gone. You are now stuck inside a financial prison, where your entire life purpose is paying the loan companies back.
Once you’re stuck inside a financial prison, with it’s razor-wire fences of debt, your decisions will be forced to revolve around paying your bills, and not exploring your soul and finding out who you are meant to be. The more time you spend doing things you DON’T want to do, the less time you have to do the things you really want to do. That is my definition of a prison, even if these types of prisons are mostly invisible.
I know not everyone will end up in handcuffs and in physical prisons, but 30% of American’s do have a criminal record. That’s 1 in 3! So the odds are that some of the kids in that classroom will make bad decisions that put them in the back of a squad car, or a jail cell, or even into a prison-institution at some point in their life. Making bad decision is a slippery slope if you’re not careful. These misfortunes can happen to anyone. A lot of people have had one too many drinks and get behind the wheel of a car. A lot of people make bad decisions with drugs, and end up waking up in jail for God knows what. Sometimes people make even worse decisions, that can lead to even worse consequences.
Ultimately, I tried to tell the kids that the easiest way to stay out of all of these prisons in life, is to really focus on the decisions they are making. I asked them to examine where their decisions leading them to. What type of people did they want to become? How could they make better decisions that will naturally lead them to achieving their dreams?
I tried to get them to think for themselves and discover the answers to these questions on their own. I tried to lead them to the revelation that if they can avoid the three prisons I listed above (physical, financial, and self-esteem prisons), then their life will be in better shape than 80% of the American population out there right now. If you can avoid the prisons trying to incarcerate your soul, then you will be free to achieve the dreams that you were created to live.
Ultimately, our definition of what wealth means here at Wealth Well Done, is much more than how much money you make or have. Our definition of wealth is also determined by how many prisons you avoid becoming trapped inside. The wealthiest person in the world is NOT the person with the most money. The wealthiest person in the world is the person who has the ability, time, money, energy, and freedom, to go on an adventure in life and achieve their dreams no matter how big, crazy, or wild they are.
I believe wealth is the ability to listen to God full-time, and then execute the vision God gives you.
The kids in the High School classroom seemed to be super-engaged with these insights. I spoke for an hour for each class, and filled that entire hour up with a segment for questions at the end. My answers to their questions reminded me of this chart my wife recently made for our blogging friends over at Millennial Revolution. (If you want to read an even crazier, deeper story that inspired this post, click this link when you’re done reading this article) This info-graphic below shows the steps it takes to achieve your dreams and live the life you were created to live:
The Steps to Achieve Your Dream Life:
The First Step to Achieve Your Dreams: A Stable Life. When you first commit to changing your life, just try to stop being a black hole of badness in the world. Haha. Take a deep breath. Slow down. Pay off debt. Cut the cord connecting you to harmful friendships and relationships. Turn to God. Ask for Help. Save an emergency fund of $1000 cash. Do everything you can to stop the negativity spewing out of your life and contaminating your reality. In this first stage, just focus on making the small decisions that will make your life stable again.
The Second Step to Achieve Your Dreams: A Comfortable Life. Once your life begins to be stable again, and negative energy isn’t erupting out of your life like an exploding volcano, focus your energy on creating comfort in your life. Relax. Chill. Take some time off. Take an affordable vacation. Learn to think happy thoughts. Become grateful that your life isn’t a black hole spewing radioactive negativity anymore. Your actions aren’t sucking you into a prison of depression and misery on a daily basis.
Be proud that you saved an emergency fund of $1000 cash in your bank account. Enjoy your hard-earned comfort. You now have a buffer between you, and the harsh realities that happen to all of us on earth. Soak in the feelings of your new found peace and bliss. Enjoy some faith that you will be OK in life.
The Third Step to Achieve Your Dreams: A Happy Life. Now that you’re stable and comfortable, begin to seek small achievements and experiences that create happiness in life. Exercise. Talk to God. Listen to your soul. Make positive friendships. Enjoy the presence of inspiring humans. Be grateful for what you have, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. If you’ve made mistakes in your past, be willing to forgive yourself. It’s Ok to be sorry. Make amends with yourself, and the world, and be willing to move on. You’re only alive once. It’s Ok. You can be happy again.
The Fourth Step to Achieving Your Dreams: A Wealthy Life. Now that your stable, comfortable, and happy, increase your savings goals (target saving 20%-50% of your income) and start saving major money and start creating wealth! Focus on creating a positive, healthy relationship with money in your new life. Money is not a substance that makes you happy. Money is just a tool — a resource — that can buy your adventures to go out into the world and create your happiness by achieving your dreams.
I believe money is one of the greatest resources known to man because it can be transformed into almost anything by trading it for the things and opportunities you need to achieve your dreams. This is why it’s important for you to save as much money as you can if your goal is to achieve your dreams. Money can’t buy happiness. But it can buy you the adventures you need to create your happiness.
The Fifth Step to Achieving Your Dreams: Attack Your Dreams: Take everything you’ve learned from steps 1-3, and all the money you’ve saved in step 4, and the only thing left is for you to travel fearlessly into the world to attack and achieve your dreams.
Remember this for motivation as you go through these steps: You are going to die one day. Your time here on earth will end at an unknown place and time. Don’t die with regrets. The only way to die without regret is to do everything you can to achieve your dreams while you are alive. Even if you don’t achieve every dream you have, it’s Ok. Peace, purpose, and meaning are found in the minds of those who try. There’s great honor and peace in doing your best, and trying your hardest. I believe dying without regrets is a form of wealth even more valuable than all the money in the world.
So that’s all I have to talk about this week. Look at the chart again. What step are you on? Where do you want to go? How are you going to get there? How soon? All in all, enjoy your life, your family, and your journey. God bless you as you take your steps toward your dreams: