I’m going to make a bold statement right now. In my mind, the reason there are so many unhappy, unhealthy and unfulfilled people in the world is because they were asked the wrong question when they were teenagers, and they keep asking themselves the wrong question. Honestly, how many teenagers have any idea of what they want to do in life? There may be some, but most, like me, have no idea what they want to do. However, I bet they could describe with clarity how they want to live, if they were asked.
As a teenager, I thought I wanted to do one thing and one thing only, to be a famous footballer. My parents didn’t think that’s what I wanted or needed and would continually ask me, ‘Andrew, what do you want to do when you leave school?’ I would tell them, time and time again, ‘I want to be a footballer.’ They loved me and believed I needed an education and were very persistent until I finally relented. I said, ‘Okay, okay, I don’t really care what I do as long as it has something to do with sport.’ I chose to do a Physical Education degree without any concept of where it was leading, because it sounded like ‘sport’ to me.
Well, after my four years of tertiary education, I ended up a teacher.Yikes! That’s not what I wanted to do, and I lasted about four years! I then started asking myself the question, ‘so, what do I want to do now?’ I thought I might want to get into the fitness industry because I liked being fit and healthy, so off I went, and found myself working in a gym which then led me into a personal training career. When I started personal training, I thought I wanted to be a successful personal trainer. Again, I was wrong! I became a successful personal trainer and had no life, as I ended up working from 6am to 9pm as a part owner of a ’successful’ business for 15 years.
Then, as I had learned a lot about and become inspired by nutrition, I thought I wanted to own a café to sell healthy food and educate people. Again, I was horribly wrong. After two years of trying to combine a personal training career with a hospitality business, and working over 100 hours, seven days per week, I found myself with even less of a life and in almost $100,000 debt. At that point I was feeling disillusioned, discouraged and helpless. It was also at that point I finally realised after all these years, at that time I was in my late 30’s, I had been asking myself the wrong question. I had been incorrectly asking myself what I wanted to do, in every case it led me somewhere I didn’t want to be.
So, as I sat with my head-in-my-hands in the debt-ridden café, with no life and with no idea of how to get out of this situation, I asked myself a different question. I asked myself, ‘So Andrew, this is not what you want… how do you actually want to live?’ Immediately, I could see it with clarity. I didn’t have to think about it, research it or postulate over it. I just knew it, because it was in my heart and it was my destiny. I wanted to be making a difference in lives all around the world, I wanted to be financially free. I wanted to be optimally healthy and in a loving relationship. I wanted to be able to travel, speak and inspire. I wanted to be free to choose how I lived my life and spend my time.
By asking that question, my mind opened up to possibility. In fact, it was at that very moment I made what seemed to be the most illogical decision I could make, and I’ve made a few! I decided to write a book. I had no skills, experience, qualifications or time, so why would I make that decision? Because I could see it being the key that unlocks the door for me to be living a life I love. Well, here we are almost 20 years after that crazy decision, I am about to publish my eighth book and I am pretty much living the life of my dreams, the one I visualised when I asked myself that telling question.
This is a long introduction to a pretty simple concept that I hope you will embrace as you reflect on 2020 and launch into 2021. Have you ever asked yourself, how do you want to live? If you did ask yourself this question right now, would you be able to answer it as quickly and clearly as I did when I asked it of myself? If you were able to create clarity about the way you want to live, can you see whether what you are currently doing will lead you there, or not? If not, would it be worth exploring some alternative options, that may not initially seem logical or possible, to help you live a life you love? I truly hope you ask yourself the right question and that you take the action you need to get to be living the way you want to live.
If I have stimulated or agitated something in you as a result of this blog, I would encourage you to listen to my podcast with week with children’s author Adam Wallace, called, ‘Remember death, live forever.’ It’s a wonderful conversation with a man who is living a successful and passionate life and is all about understanding we are only alive for a finite period of time and that a life of passion and purpose is available for us all. We do, however, need to start living, now.
This is my last blog for 2020, a unique year indeed. For me this year, things that I have learned, things I have been forced to change and things that I’ve done have helped me move closer to the life I want to live. 2021 is a blank page for us all, anything is possible, and I wish for you that you make it your best year yet. All I suggest is, before you set any goals or make any news year resolutions, you ask yourself the question, ‘how do I want to live?’