I have been using guiding principles for most of my life to help keep me on track and move in the direction I want my life to go.
I have created twelve guiding principles for my life I want to share with you. I have internalized these principles and refer back to them all the time to make certain I am moving my life in the direction I want. And I want you to do the same. In fact, you might even want to write them down on a card and attach them to a mirror or your refrigerator; review them each morning until you have them fully internalized.
These twelve guiding principles are designed to help shape your perspective on how you live your life. My hope for you is that you will see life through the lens of these guiding principles. You will notice some of your core beliefs changing as you internalize these more productive beliefs. And changing your beliefs is key to changing your life.
Guiding Principle 1: Life Is All about Growth
If I could provide you with one concept, one perspective that at its very core can change your life, it’s the concept of growth. It is the foundational principle from which everything emanates. If you want the purpose of your life, I can sum it up in one word: growth.
I really think that is the only reason we are here on earth. We are here to grow and develop as souls. Don’t worry, I won’t get into a bunch of new age speak (well, maybe a little), but that is my extremely strong belief. This guiding principle has served me very well, and it has helped me put all other things into perspective.
During all you have left of those thirty thousand days, it is your responsibility to look for opportunities for growth. In many cases, growth comes, and you don’t even know it. But if you are aware of growth happening in your life, you can use it to your advantage.
Consider a life where it is impossible for something bad to happen to you. When you are living from the perspective of growth, suddenly everything becomes an opportunity. You can’t possibly fail or have anything really bad happen to you as long as you learn from the experience and grow (even if ever so slightly) into a better person.
When something happens like losing money or getting into a fight with your loved one or even the death of someone close to you, all you have to do is the following:
- Become aware of it.
- Determine how this is going to enable you to grow into a better, more self-realized person.
- Figure out how you can use this in your life going forward.
This concept of growth is the foundation of this entire book (and I believe the foundation of our entire existence on this planet), so I really want you to truly comprehend and ideally embrace the concept.
Guiding Principle 2: Accept Yourself
Learning to accept yourself is the single most important thing you can do to lead a happy, productive, and fulfilling life. This seems like such an obvious statement that I shouldn’t even need to mention it, yet it is by far the largest single challenge most people have to overcome to live a prosperous life.
For some reason, many people like to beat the crap out of themselves. I have met so many people who feel that to achieve success, they must continually tell themselves they aren’t good enough. They suffer from constant wishes to be “better,” but they will never (and I mean never) win this psychological game. This is the most harmful thinking I can think of.
If you ever find that you are beating yourself up, trying to be perfect, always looking for the negative in situations, or just feeling bad about yourself, then you need to examine your level of self-acceptance or continually judging yourself. Ideally, you would never feel this way about yourself. Yet we all let ourselves or others mess with our heads about feelings of not being good enough.
I am here to tell you that you are more than good enough. I think you are perfect at this moment in time. You are the way you should be right now. But it goes even further than that. Dare I actually use the “L word”? Yes, love. Simply stated, you need to love yourself first. But loving yourself is actually not as easy as it seems.
We will be spending lots of time in this book to help you change your perspective on self-acceptance and self-love. If you learn this and nothing else out of this book, it will be worth more than all the money in the world.
Guiding Principle 3: You Are Responsible for 100 Percent of Your Life
Have you ever played the victim? Have you ever blamed someone else for how you are feeling? Have you ever blamed someone for something going bad? Maybe you hold your partner responsible for the reason your relationship isn’t working. How about your boss? Has he or she done something to ruin your life? If you can answer yes to any of these questions, then you aren’t taking 100 percent responsibility for your life.
Shoot, you might be thinking, Really? Do I really need to be responsible for 100 percent of my life? Isn’t it much easier to just make someone else responsible for my pain or my challenging situations? Absolutely and unquestionably, the answer is no.
And I do mean 100 percent, period. Not 90 percent, not 99 percent. This single perspective gives you more power and control over your life than almost anything else. The second you stop blaming other people for your challenges, you will gain the power to do something about your life.
You might be saying, “Hey, Ken, wait just a minute. I am not responsible if the bus is fifteen minutes late and I am late for work. I am not responsible if someone reacts negatively toward me. I am not responsible if an earthquake hits and my home is destroyed.” Yes, these are true, but you are responsible for how you react to these situations.
If you are responsible for everything in your life, then you have tremendous control over what happens in it. This doesn’t mean you can control all the situations that come into your life, but you can control your responses. This is the key. You control your feelings, emotions, and responses to situations. You will be amazed that once you start to shift your belief toward this, things become much easier, and you become much more joyful.
Guiding Principle 4: Always Be Present
We spend much of our time each day dwelling on the past or thinking about the future. If you really think about it, though, the only thing you can impact is the present moment. You can’t impact the past—only learn from it. Your ego loves living in the past so it can judge you and others in your life. It is completely unproductive to judge your past or the pasts of others. Thinking of the past from a detached perspective, such that you can learn from it, is just fine. But the key isn’t to get your emotions wrapped up in the learning process. This is where most people go wrong.
Likewise, obsessing about the future is also unproductive. Getting emotional about a future that hasn’t yet happened will just lead you to judge it. It is certainly okay to think about the future and plan out how you will live your life. But for you to live a prosperous life, you need to take action, and that action takes place in the present.
It is very hard for most people to just live in the present moment without drifting constantly to the past or the future. I am just as guilty of doing this as you. But I can tell you, I find that my most creative moments and greatest insights come to me in the present moment. This happens when my brain can get still enough to allow those valuable thoughts to come in. These insights have made a huge difference in my life, and I want them to do the same for you.
Here is the good news: there are some great techniques to help quiet your brain long enough to let this happen. It’s not possible to live your entire life in the present, of course, but you’ll learn to grab those important moments when you can, and they will make a difference. And once you learn the techniques that work for you and start to use them, you will find being present will happen more often and more automatically.
Here are a few techniques that work for me. Meditation is by far the best thing you can do to quiet your brain and become more present in the moment. Find a quiet spot and focus on your breathing for at least fifteen minutes and more if possible. I have also found that writing in my journal is also very helpful in focusing on the present and getting those valuable insights. Another easy technique is to take a nice, long drive in the country or on a long stretch of road with very little traffic. More to come on this.
Guiding Principle 5: Don’t Die with Your Music inside You
This is a quotation from one of my favorite authors, Dr. Wayne Dyer, who was a renowned personal development author. I strongly believe we are all here for a reason and that we were all given some special gifts. And we have an obligation to figure out what those gifts are and to use them to the fullest extent possible. I believe you owe this to the world. It’s like the cost of admission to life (not to put too much pressure on you or anything).
The key to making sure we don’t die with our music inside us is clarity. Once we are clear on where we are going and can get alignment with everything in our lives, we can start to take massive action to get to where we want to go.
You might be saying, “Well, this sounds good, but I am not sure what my gifts really are.” That is okay. Here is the good news: in this book we are going to spend much time working on discovering your gifts.
These are just 5 of the 12 guiding principles in the book. For more, get a copy of the book on Amazon and other booksellers.