On a beautiful late spring afternoon, twenty-five years ago, two young men graduated from the same college.
These two men, Dean and Michael, were very much alike. Both were from middle-income families. Both had been better than average students. Both were personable. And both—as young college graduates are—had dreams for the future.
Recently, these men returned to their college for their 25th reunion. And they were still very much alike…
Both were happily married. Both had three children. And both, it turned out, had gone to work for the same Midwestern manufacturing company after graduation, and were still there.
However, there was a difference…
Dean was the manager of a small department of that company. Michael was the president.
What Made the Difference
Have you ever wondered what makes this kind of difference in people’s lives?
It isn’t always a native intelligence or talent or dedication. It isn’t that one person wants success, and the other doesn’t.
The difference lies in what each person knows and how he or she makes use of that knowledge.
The Tale of Dean’s Life
When he landed a job at the manufacturing company, Dean looked around to see how everyone else was doing their job, and then he did the same. He fit in with his co-workers quickly. He took regular breaks like everyone else, ate lunch with his co-workers, and occasionally went out for drinks with them after work.
Each morning, he’d set his alarm for 6:00 a.m., hit snooze until 6:30, and then rush out of his apartment to get to work at 8:00. He’d work his way through the day and leave promptly at 5:00 p.m.
Dean would drive his used car to his apartment, eat frozen dinners and watch television until 11:00. Occasionally, he’d take a young lady on a date.
For years, he lived a minimal existence—getting 3 percent raises each year, doing little more than he was expected to do—hoping that times would remain good so that he could keep his job.
After five years, Dean was promoted to supervisor, he got married and bought a modest home in the suburbs. After work, he’d hop in his car and head home. He’d eat dinner in front of the television with his wife, and they’d watch their favorite shows until retiring at 11:00.
Dean and his wife had three children in six years, and money started to get tight. So, he was thrilled when his boss finally promoted him to department manager when his youngest son was two years old.
Dean thought it was only natural that he would continue to advance in his company over time. But, unlike his former classmate, Michael, it never crossed his mind that he should take steps to improve himself or to make things happen.
A Different Approach to Life
Michael landed a similar job to Dean’s when they graduated from college. However, Michael approached his job and his life much differently.
See, Michael wasn’t interested in doing what everyone else was doing. He didn’t want to work for a company just to collect a steady paycheck. He wanted to run the company!
Unlike Dean, Michael seldom needed an alarm to get him out of bed each morning. He woke up around 5:30 each morning because he couldn’t wait to start his day.
Michael read every morning before heading off to work. Then, he’d leave early for work so that he could arrive before anyone else. Instead of doing what everyone else was doing, Michael did whatever needed to be done to help the company grow—even if it meant stepping outside of his comfort zone.
He dedicated most evenings to two things: spending quality time with his family and improving his mind and increasing his knowledge so he could operate at or near peak efficiency.
Michael lived with purpose every day of his life. His goals motivated him, so he did more and traveled farther in a year than many of the people he worked with will do in a lifetime. He loved living life to the fullest.
Which Kind of Life Do You Want?
How can YOU experience the joys of living fully extended?
First, you must take care of your mind. Stop feeding it a constant stream of junk. A little downtime is alright, but don’t dedicate every free hour you have to watching TV, following sports, and doing other stuff that requires little mental energy.
Instead, live consciously. We only have a limited number of days on this earth. Don’t put life on auto-pilot. Always ask yourself – why am I doing this? If you wake up too many mornings in a row without a good answer, then it’s time to make a change.
Constantly work on improving yourself. If you’re not doing something to improve yourself every day, then you’re not going to reach your goals.
Second, set goals that excite you so when you wake up in the morning you know exactly what you’re working toward.
Also, do work that you love. If you don’t know what that is, find it. Keep looking for it, and don’t give up until you find it.
Third, be the star of your own movie. Too many people are extras in the movie of their lives. Stop watching other people in movies portraying a life that is more interesting than your own. Don’t be afraid of feeling uncomfortable or awkward. Think big, step out and move into the leading role of your life—no matter how hard it is.
I cannot promise you that success will be instantly yours if you start setting the right goals. But I can guarantee that you will find life far more interesting, fulfilling and enjoyable.
To your success,
P.S. Need help in setting the right goals? Get a step-by-step guide below.