Success is a complex thing. A lot of people boil down success to money and status, but I believe that true success is much more holistic than that. It’s possible to have all the money and fame in the world and still be miserable. In fact, this is where a lot of people find themselves – wealthy and unfulfilled. In order to truly be successful, you need to successfully navigate a number of principles in multiple, crucialareas of living. I call these areas the Pillars of Life.
When I was homeless, I thought that if only I were making some money, I’d be happy. Then when I started making money, I thought I needed more. When I started making more, I figured I needed marriage to finally be satisfied. Once I got married, it was unhealthy, and I was worse off than before. Meanwhile, I was making more money but growing less and less free. After years of struggling through this cycle, I finally realized that I’d oversimplified success. As a result, I wasn’t able to truly enjoy my life.
My hope is that my sharing the Pillars of Life will help you avoid the trap I fell into. I’ll share each one and give you pointers on how to make each key area healthy.
The Pillars of Life
By my count, there are 8 Pillars of Life. In no particular order, they are:
As we walk through each pillar of life in this post, I encourage you to grade each one in your life on a scale of 1-10. Your lowest scores should probably be the pillars you focus on first. I recommend working on no more than two at a time until the habits become routine.
The Physical Pillar
Your physical pillar is your bodily health. Some would argue this is the most important pillar of life, as it’s difficult to be healthy in almost any of the others without it.
I remember seeing my mentor, Steve Myrick, a few weeks before he passed away. Steve was a great man and entrepreneur who experienced a high level of financial success. The last time I saw him, he was in a hospital bed covered in tubes. My father, who was with me praised Steve out loud for all he had accomplished in his life. That’s when Steve beckoned us both to come close. When we did, he whispered, “What good are my accomplishments if I don’t have my health?”
If you’re reading this, I urge you not to take your physical health lightly. Even if you’re young and have no obvious health problems, start treating your body well now. Here are some tips for your Physical Pillar:
Eat lots of vegetables, particularly superfoods like kale and broccoli
Increase fiber in your diet. An easy way is to eat more nuts and seeds
Consult your doctor about taking vitamin supplements
Exercise every day if possible, even if just a little
Drink less alcohol, or quit altogether
Reduce sugar intake
The Emotional Pillar
Despite being one of the most neglected, your emotional health is extremely important in the pillars of life. How you think determines your actions, and what you think is driven by your emotions. If you find yourself dismissing this pillar or rolling your eyes at it, be careful. It probably means it should be a particularly high priority for you.
Here are some ways to increase your emotional pillar:
Practice meditation and deep breathing
Start journaling your rawest thoughts
Consider consulting a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or therapist
If there’s a pillar of life more neglected than the emotional pillar, it’s the spiritual pillar. Our society is extremely materialistic, so we have a low value for the pursuit of deeper revelation, meaning, and purpose. And we wonder why so many of us feel purposeless and without direction!
I’m not here to evangelize a particular religion or spirituality, at least not in this post. However, I will say that you will not find purpose, fulfillment, or meaning if you don’t seek answers on the divine and the intangible. Until you commit yourself to something eternal, you won’t understand your highest purpose.
For those of you who want to start working on this pillar, here’s some tips I’d recommend:
Read the thoughts of the great theologians and philosophers
Research different religions, particularly the “great” and ancient ones like Christianity, Judaism, and Islam
Study the great texts like the Odyssey, The Bible, the Quran, and the Bhagavad Gita. Take note of what resonates with you.
Network with local churches and religious organizations
The Relational Pillar
Life sucks without healthy relationships. Here I don’t just mean romantic, though that is important. I’m talking about all of the relationships that one should have: family, close friends, a network, etc. Relationships are crucial in the Pillars of Life.
There’s so much to say about finding the right relationships and stewarding those with skill and care. Check out my eBook, The 7 Relationships You Must Have to Win at Life, for more of my thoughts on how to strengthen this pillar effectively.
The Personal Development Pillar
One could, I suppose, boil down all the pillars of life into the personal development pillar, since ultimately you increase the strength of each one by taking responsibility for yourself there. However, when I talk about the personal development pillar, I mean fostering a mindset that is dedicated to personal growth. This is often called the growth mindset, which sees life as a journey of learning more than a race to any particular outcome.
Does that sound cheesy? I thought so too, once. But I’ve found that this way of thinking has a profound effect on my mood, momentum, and overall effectiveness. When you aren’t afraid of not achieving a particular goal, you become curious and feel free to enjoy the journey. Getting to this place takes self-acceptance and self-appreciation. Ironically, punishing yourself mentally for bad behavior will take you further away from who you really want to be. For more on this pillar, check out my post on the rigid mindset, which elaborates on how to break into the growth mindset.
The Professional Pillar
Some people equate this with financial success, but I separate them on purpose. I believe that professional success isn’t actually about climbing a ladder or hitting a financial goal. It’s about doing what you were made to do for a living and loving what you do.
Developing this pillar really comes down to alignment with the right goal. You want to get started on a career path with as much overlap with both your passions and natural skillsets as possible.
If you’re not sure you’re on the right path, I recommend committing 5-10 hours per week to exploring what you would really like to do. Don’t focus on practicality or on how far away you think you might be from that. Be open-minded, curious, and committed to discovering whatever that is. Once you feel you have an idea, commit the same amount of time each week (or more) to moving towards it.
The Financial Pillar
Money isn’t everything, but it is important. You need to support yourself and pay your bills. Not only that, but money brings opportunity to invest, increase your other pillars, and make an impact.
If you’re not killing it financially, that’s ok. The most important thing is to not run out of cash, stay out of debt, and make investments consistent with strengthening your pillars of life. The stronger all your other pillars are up to this point, the better off this pillar is likely to be. It’s possible to skip the others and focus solely on this one, and if this is the weak link, that’s probably the right call. However, this is the first one most people jump for, and many of those people are not necessarily correct.
The Impact Pillar
The highest strength in the impact pillar is ultimately the result of successfully weaving all the other pillars of life together. That said, don’t put off serving others and giving back until you’ve made your millions. If you don’t sacrifice for others now, do you really think you will later? If you feel powerless to make an impact right now, you need to think again. Find causes that you care about and support them. Volunteer your time, your money, or both. The most meaningful and successful lives are lived for others, not for yourself.
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The Journey Principles Institute exists because we believe that everyone can and should have a better life. We believe that everyone has the power to make a better life for themselves. It happens when they start thinking differently – with responsibility, positivity, and self-awareness. That’s what it takes to get what you want.
3 Principles to Get What You Want Out of Life
In this post we’ll give you a seven step strategy to accelerate you towards a better life. The strategy will focus on creating self-awareness, because I believe this is the #1 block for most people. No one can sabotage your life quite like you.
In high school I was already searching for a better life. I was dissatisfied all the time and craved traction. Even then I was smart enough to realize I lacked wisdom, so I was reading a lot of books and listening to one self-help guru after another. Still, I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Then I got some key revelation from an unexpected source. My then-girlfriend’s mother, of all people, saw me where I was and gave me three principles I’ll never forget. As you walk through the 7 steps to get what you want, keep the following 3 things in mind:
#1 – “If you don’t know yourself, no one else will either.”
You can’t elevate what you don’t understand. In order to reach your potential, you’ll need to discover what drives you, inspires you, and discourages you. Only after you know yourself can you set yourself up for success. Once you do that, you can start to thrive, your best self will start coming through to the world around you.
# 2- “Respond, Don’t React”
Part of self-awareness is moment-to-moment. It’s understanding how you’re feeling right now, in the midst of a situation or interaction. It’s so important to pay attention to yourself in every experience, particularly interactions with others. This will tell you a lot about yourself. Keep in mind that you can’t gather this information when you’re in a reactive state. You can’t be reactive and observant at the same time.
#3 – “Mentors Have Greater Perspective Than Our Memories”
Your past doesn’t define you. If you keep living from your negative experiences, you won’t change. To get to a better place, you have to think about where you want to go instead of the bad place you’ve been. Mentors help you do this, because they can be that picture for you. Everyone needs people who are further along to provide perspective and hope.
7 Steps to Get What You Want
Step 1 – Define Where You Are Now
It’s important to gauge where things stand now so that you can monitor your progress going forward. Unless you’re keeping track of your wins, you’ll likely lose heart. Moreover, defining where you are right now can help you define why you want things to change and what it would look like to get what you want. Finally, you’ll need to focus on one thing at a time in order to advance. There are likely several areas of your life that you want to improve, and focusing on more than one at a time can slow you down.
An important tool for this step is the 8 Pillars of Life. It simplifies life into eight primary components: Emotional, Spiritual, Relational, Financial, Professional, Physical, Impact, and Personal Development. I recommend grading each category on a scale of 1-10 and giving two or three pieces of evidence for your reasoning. This can help you determine where you need to focus first.
Step 2 – Consider How You Got Here
Identifying the real problem is crucial to creating lasting change.
To get what you want, you can’t afford to work hard on the wrong solution. This wastes time and energy. Moreover, you don’t want to be taken out by something you’re unaware of. The reality is that there are patterns of thought and behavior that have contributed to your less-than-ideal circumstances. Most of these patterns came from your upbringing and experiences.
In order to get a life you love, you’ll need to understand where you came from and be honest with yourself about what went wrong.
For instance, I was abandoned by my birth parents when I was a kid. This created a massive fear of abandonment in me, which caused constant feelings of neediness, suspicion, and anger. It also made me so afraid of failure that I never tried to succeed, choosing laziness instead. Eventually, I had to acknowledge that if I wanted to have a better life, I had to be willing to work harder.
Step 3 – Acknowledge Regular Roadblocks
Why is it important to know this? Because solutions are often hiding in the obstacle you’re facing (check outThe Obstacle is the Wayfor more on this concept). Thinking about the people and events that hurt you is painful, but if it’s done to grow self-awareness, it can be powerful. You can start to identify the patterns that came from those experiences, and then you can break these patterns. For more on this, check out my post about how to change the way you think.
Step 4 – Visualize Where You Want to Go
As important as it is to identify your real obstacles, it’s the solutions you want to focus on. Once you identify the positive thing you want to happen, you’ll need to visualize it over and over again. When I say visualize, I mean to imagine with all of your senses, including your vision. Look for details and write them down. Elaborate to yourself constantly about what you would like to happen in your life and how that would feel. The more you work on your vision of where you want to go, the more obvious your next steps will be in getting what you want.
Step 5 – Identify Productive Routines and Habits
Getting what you want out of life will require certain skills, relationships, and resources. These will come from habits informed by principles and experiences that give you wisdom. As you define what a better life would mean for you, be sure to walk backwards until you have daily routines and practices that will lead to the result you want.
Step 6 – Follow 3 Routines Per Desired Outcome
Remember how I said to focus on one area of your life at a time? This stage is when that becomes the most important. You will need to develop routines and habits to get traction towards a life you love, and you can only form so many new routines and habits at a time. I recommend 3 routines for each desired outcome.
For instance, let’s say you decide that your financial pillar needs the most work to get what you want. You decide to increase your income by $100k per year within 2-3 years, then you’ll likely need to advance professionally. If you’re in a corporate environment and want to stay there, then a solution you could choose is to get an MBA. This could get you promoted to higher positions.
But to get your MBA, you’ll need to work nights and weekends. To have time to do this, you’ll likely need to change your habits. You’ll have to get used to reading instead of TV, and you’ll probably need a more regular sleep schedule to make the most of each day. In addition, you may need to listen to less music in the car and use that time to get work done or absorb new information that will help you succeed.
This isn’t the cleanest example, but you get the idea. All of these disciplines will take your energy, time, and commitment. You’ll only have so much of each, so choose your next desired outcome carefully.
Step 7 – Measure your Results and Make Adjustments
Not all of your desired outcomes will have a 2-3 year timeline. In fact, many of them won’t and shouldn’t. Regardless, as you go you’ll want to check in with yourself to make sure you’re following through and making progress towards the life you love. Sometimes there will be long stretches where you’ll be working hard and the results aren’t coming in. This is normal and part of every journey to a better life.
However, if you see inconsistencies or lack of follow-through in your routines, that means adjustments need to be made. For instance, if you consistently fail to wake up early, you may need to go to bed earlier. It could also mean that you’re simply not a morning person due to your chronotype and need to structure your days more around the afternoons and evenings to get the most out of yourself. Still, it could mean that you have too many new routines going on and need to cut one or two in order to follow through on your top 3.
The key in Step 7 is this: focus on your own consistency, not on the results you’re getting. Learn to celebrate effort and follow-through as victory in and of themselves. You will get what you want in due time – be patient and don’t give up!
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In my post, How To Transform Your Life, I broke down the 3 steps you must take to develop Life Mastery. Here we will go deeper and evaluate the different areas of life mastery, which I callthe 8 Pillars of Life.
Simplify Life Mastery & Gain Momentum
Change happens when you decide to change, commit to guiding principles, and act on those principles consistently. However, we need to do this for every area of life in order to achieve lasting transformation and true breakthrough.
Often life can be messy, stressful, and overwhelming. It feels like there are dozens of things we need to get done and not enough time to do even a few. That’s why it’s very important to break our lives down into core areas of focus so we can get traction. The more wins we get, the easier it is to stay motivated.
The 8 Pillars of Life
In many cases, the problems you experience in your life aren’t the real issue. Instead it’s usually a lack of proficiency in one or more of the areas of life mastery. If you can identify the region with the biggest problem, you can raise the tide of all the others. This is the purpose of the 8 Pillars of Life.
“The definition of genius is taking the complex and making it simple.”
Money isn’t everything, but boy, does it matter. Everything is easier when you’re financially healthy, and everything is harder when you’re not. That’s why money is the first of the 8 pillars of Life. Many people misread the health of their financial pillar when they accumulate too much debt, so a key to success in the financial pillar is not being over-leveraged.
This is one of my favorite of the 8 Pillars of Life because it’s where I needed the most transformation. When we don’t have a handle on this one, it tends to wreck every area of our life. Insecurities, fears, and low self esteem are poisonous.
To diagnose your emotional health, ask yourself these questions:
Are healthy boundaries absent in your life?
How often do you act impulsively vs considering your actions?
Do you often dwell on things outside of your control?
Can you identify any areas where you consistently sabotage yourself?
Do you usually feel like things will be ok or do you usually feel like they won’t be ok?
Many people are turned off by this pillar, but you’re going to need hope, replenishment, and perspective no matter who you are. These things come from a sense of higher purpose, and in our darkest times, the best weapon we have is connecting with a power beyond yourself. For this reason, regardless of your religious beliefs, I believe that spirituality should be a regular part of your routine. If you don’t have this, you will eventually find yourself empty and unfulfilled.
There’s a saying that if you look at your closest relationships, you’ll see your future. Another says that you are the average of the 5 people you have spent the most time with. I believe both of these statements are true, so choose your circle wisely and make sure you bring to every relationship what you want to get out of it.
Your job is where you spend most of your time. It’s how you provide for yourself and where you are most likely to make new connections and experience measurable wins. It will greatly influence your overall self esteem and sense of significance, so don’t stay in a job you hate any longer than you have to.
Ask yourself the following questions:
How does your career get you closer to your goals and/or the person you want to be?
Are you doing what you love or what you must?
Can you elevate your authentic self where you are, or do you have to hide it?
Are you able to use your strengths and talents in your career right now?
Do the people you work with energize or drain you?
Change itself is so important that it gets it’s own area of life mastery! Nothing will ever give you a more vibrant sense of purpose than making renewed progress regularly. Do you have a plan in place to grow your mind, body, and spirit, or are you only challenged when you’re forced to be? If you’re not growing, you’re moving backwards, so ask yourself the following questions to make sure you’re moving forward in your 8 pillars of life:
Have I been making the same complaint over and over?
If so, can I proudly and clearly explain what I’ve been doing about it?
Are my struggles the exact same as they were last year?
Can I name at least 3 ways I’ve changed for the better in the last year?
Am I spending most of my free time on things that don’t contribute to any of my 8 Pillars of Life?
There is nothing worse than regret– realizing that we’ve lived a life of constant taking rather than a life of value. In other words, we don’t want to get to the end of our lives and realize that all we’ve done is leech from others. The villains of every story are the characters that hoard everything for themselves, but the heroes give away what they have so that others can flourish. If we want to make an impact, we need to give ourselves away, and we need to start today.
Tip #1 – Focus on One Pillar at a Time
When working on transforming your life, it’s better to focus on no more than two pillars at once to prevent frustrations. Trying to fix more than that at once can be overwhelming, and being overwhelmed can get you stuck. In contrast, if you steadily get small wins, your momentum will continue to build. The 8 Pillars of Life are to help you simplify life mastery and start generating momentum now.
Tip #2 – Improving One Pillar Will Boost The Others
One of the coolest aspects of the 8 Pillars of Life is that each builds upon the others. Let’s refer back to the diagram.
Notice that the first set of four support the second set. If one of the lower four is shaky, it drastically increases instability in the upper pillars. For example, if your financial pillar is unstable, then nine times out of ten, your professional life and contribution to others is unstable as well. Because of this, you may want to focus on the lower four pillars first. This can give you a strong foundation to build from. The good news is that solidifying these will raise the tide of the other areas of life mastery, so take comfort in knowing that improving one pillar will likely make each of the 8 pillars of life stronger by default!
Life Mastery Is Easier Than You Think
When you‘re focused on Life Mastery and making daily progress, your purpose will become clearer every day. As your confidence grows, your life will have a daily, renewed sense of meaning. Using the 8 Pillars of Life will help you become confident in your daily action-steps towards a life of meaning.
With this tool you should be able to identify which area needs the most growth today. If you want more clarity or help staying motivated, I recommend my free ebook, 5 Principles For A Personal Breakthrough. It’ll help you get where you want to go faster.