How to Live a Life You Love

15 May 2013 · 17 comments

For a long time, I was unhappy. I was fat, broke, and miserable. Maybe I was depressed, I’m not sure. Whatever the case, I didn’t like my life, and I wanted something better. I waited and waited but nothing ever improved.

Eventually I hit bottom. I wasn’t willing to allow myself to sink any lower, so I decided to make some changes.

I started by taking control of my finances. I began to read about saving and investing. As I read, I put what I learned into practice. It didn’t happen overnight — in fact, it took years — but I paid off my credit cards and put money into savings. Today, I’m debt-free and have a substantial nest egg.

After putting my financial house in order, I decided to take control of my fitness. I began to read about exercise and nutrition. As I read, I put what I learned into practice. Again the changes happened slowly, but they did happen. Within a couple of years, I had lost fifty pounds and put on muscle. More importantly, I’d changed my eating habits and made exercise a part of my daily life.

J.D. (Tire Flip)
Fitness is one of my daily priorities.

It’s been said that success breeds success. That was certainly true in my case. Each positive change I made helped me to understand that I could make other positive changes. I realized that nobody cares more about my life than I do. If I want to be happy, I need to be in charge of that happiness. I can’t wait for anyone (or anything) to bring it to me.

I am responsible for my own well-being. And you are responsible for yours.

As children, we’re conditioned that we need permission to do things. You need permission from your parents to leave the dinner table or to go outside and play. You need permission from your teacher to go to the bathroom.

Even as adults, we often feel we need permission. You need permission from your boss to leave work early. You need permission from your spouse to hang out with your friends instead of cleaning the bathroom.

Like many folks, I grew up with an external locus of control. I thought my fate was largely determined by the people and events around me. This wasn’t a conscious belief, but it was always there, underlying everything I felt and did. As a result, I waited for things to happen. I needed permission to take risks or to try new things.

That’s no longer the case.

Keep Dropping Keys All Night Long
After you’ve reclaimed your life, help others reclaim theirs…

I’ve spent the past ten years reclaiming my life. I’ve shifted to an internal locus of control. I’ve come to realize that I’m in charge of my own destiny, and that it’s my responsibility to live a life I love. This means that I need to:

  • Avoid excuses.
  • Ask for what I want.
  • Own my decisions.
  • React constructively to adversity.
  • Collect (and take advantage of) opportunities.
  • Let go of the things that no longer work.
  • Ignore the opinion of others.
  • Act — even when I’m afraid.

If you’re unhappy, nobody else is going to make things better for you. You have to make things better for yourself. Concentrate on the things you can control, and use that control to fix the other things that are broken. This will grant you even more control over your future well-being.

You live in a world of your own creation. You have the power of choice. You create your own certainty. Live your life as you want to live it, and do so without regret. Give yourself permission to do so.

Caveat: It’s okay to change jobs or to move to San Diego. It’s not okay to steal your neighbor’s television or to drive on the wrong side of the highway. Remember the Golden Rule. Do what you want insofar as you’re not harming others.

1 Martin May 15, 2013 at 14:00

Congrats on grabbing life by the balls! I really love hearing stories like this, especially from those older than me. It’s never too late to grab control and own your life.

I started training my youngest brother Adrian at 14. Now he’s 16, 190lbs of muscle, and already running a small business. It’s amazing how writing/mentoring can help others learn from our mistakes.

What do you wish you knew back in your teens/20s that you could share?

Btw, does that shirt come in men’s sizes? I kid.

2 Tyler Karaszewski May 15, 2013 at 15:11

You just sold me on buying another boat.

3 Pedro May 16, 2013 at 05:22

I’m rock bottom, but I still let my life sail without me controlling it.

Good advice, let me see if I can put it to good use.

Best of lucks.

4 Lou Rodriguez May 16, 2013 at 05:42

I can relate to everything you wrote about in this post because I have traveled a similar path with the exception of exercising. Exercise has always been a part of my life and my health is something I’ve always felt I was in control of regardless of my personal or financial circumstances.

The advice you give here is great for adults. But what about our youth? I have read your other articles about the psychology of consumerism and the lack of teaching the behavioral when it comes to financial literacy.

I know you have your plate full but you could be someone to help lead a movement about teaching financial life building skills to our children in schools. Sure, your teachings and what I talk about with my blog can help others to reclaim their lives and to say “Never Again”; but by teaching these lessons to kids early in life, perhaps – just perhaps – they can say “Never Ever”!

You said it yourself; kids are conditioned and I believe this is where we can all make a real difference in making the world a better place…if we really want to!

5 Betty May 16, 2013 at 07:41

Thank you, I enjoyed this post very much.

Unfortunately, we do have to make choices. Sometimes, we have to decide between two things that are both exciting but, only one is doable.

I am married and, love my husband of 29 years very much. Sadly, the things
he wants, are not my wants. So, I remain in a home I don’t want, a city I don’t
want, spending priorities I don’t want, vacations I don’t want etc….

Yes, he would give up his wants for mine. But, then he would be the one
writing this post. :(

6 Ashley J May 16, 2013 at 08:39

I’m saving this post. This is great reminder for me. It’s comforting to hear that other people have experienced some of the same troubles I have. Isn’t it crazy how one positive change can start a chain reaction with the other areas of your life? For so long I thought it was others holding me back from being my best. It feels so powerful to know that I hold the key to my own happiness.

7 Andrea @ SavingsLifestyle May 16, 2013 at 11:18

Great post, J.D.! So glad that I’ve become a friend over the past few years as you have made some of these changes. Can’t wait to see what else you end up doing to live without regrets!

8 Yuan May 16, 2013 at 14:11

Thank you for this great post! Every word is true. It is indeed our own responsiblities to make ourselves happy.

9 Tyler Karaszewski May 16, 2013 at 21:06

Boat purchased.

10 Tracee May 18, 2013 at 03:36

That is awesome Tyler!

11 Sam May 16, 2013 at 23:14

Jd, great post, totally agree with you. Big question though, how can I teach/show someone else I love this same perspective?

Long time reader here….back to the early days of get rich slowly, never posted before but always followed and your writings have been supporting and motivational…thanks.

12 AnnW May 18, 2013 at 16:11

JD, what could you be afraid of now? You have financial stability, a new condo, a new girl friend, and you know how to speak in public. You have already been through the difficult times. View every wall as a door and forge ahead! Ann, see you in Ecuador.

13 Maggie C May 18, 2013 at 18:10

Ah, well… excuses. My daughter is a CrossFit coach with tires every bit as big as the one you are lifting in the photo above. I know because I perched atop one the other day when I went to visit her at her gym. Lift the dang thing??? Well, that’s for another visit. But it’s my choice, isn’t it? Thanks for the inspiration.

14 Msjbelle May 19, 2013 at 08:37

Very well written and along the lines of exactly what I am trying to teach others. It feels so good to be free and “awake”. I also was fat, broke and I absolutely was depressed but the more positive and inspiring things I read I learned that I was in control of my happiness and noone else and I have decided I will not fail. It seems to be society wants us to fail because they tell us it’s hard to lose weight, it’s hard to save money, etc etc. Well no it is not and I am in charge of my life. I have lost over 20 pounds and losing I still eat sweets just much less often I don’t deprive myself. I keep healthy snacks on hand and when I am hungry I eat. As long as what your doing isn’t hurting yourself or another person do as you please. Life is short. Make the most of it and be happy. Don’t wait for the magical someday as it just may never come.

15 Andi B. May 24, 2013 at 19:57

I remember from a very young age my father telling me that “sometimes you ask for forgiveness instead of permission.” I think it’s very sad when we let other people and other ideas construct a life for us that is not our own or doesn’t make us happy. There are a few things that are outside of my control, for example, a genetic predisposition or two, but other than that, I know I’ve been very priviledged to walk my own path, often stubbornly so. I really appreciate how you took in what you read and put it into practice, and the different ideas you surround yourself with.

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