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Senior Correspondent

Last week I wrote about the nine steps it takes to “Play Big.” The first one, which actually relates to virtually every one of us, was “Take your head out of the sand.”

I’m going to assume that you did.

So, now that you’ve taken your head out of the sand, are you ready to draw a line in the sand?

Follow along with me.

Most people today don’t know what they really want. They think they do. They can make a list of things they’d buy if they could. They know what they’d do with a million bucks if they won the lottery. They know the house they’d buy if they got lucky and their businesses shot off the charts.

But is that what they really want? Or is it what they think they want? You see…

    "A recent Texas A&M study says a person is bombarded by 850 commercial messages a day, on average.”

So, much of what fills people’s wish lists is driven by “externals,” by what they see and hear about. From TV, ads on smart phones, websites, billboards, from what friends have or talk about. I know, I know. It sounds so superficial…

Why? Because it is.

By keeping people’s wish lists long, advertisers know they can keep them in a perpetual state of discontent. They never have enough. There’s always a newer iPad, a thinner mobile device, a sleeker car, hotter jeans. Better… faster…cooler…more awesome.

Are you thinking “hamster on a wheel” yet?

Want to know how to get off?


Sit quietly with a pad of paper and list everything you think you want. Do a brain dump. List absolutely everything you can think of. Be sure to also take the time to go inside and look at what’s most important to you. What will bring you joy not just in the short term, but also feed into later joy? What touches your core, your values? Don’t write down what you think you should want. This is your secret list.

Once you’re done, start picking out any two things on the list. Decide which of the two is more important to you and cross off the other one.

Do that until you have just three things left on your list.

These three are the things that will bring you the greatest happiness when you achieve them. It doesn’t matter what they are; everyone’s three will be different. But they are what will truly drive you to achieve. And everything else on the list (all those things you crossed off) should be things you would gladly sacrifice in order to obtain or achieve your special three.

Now it’s time to draw the proverbial line in the sand.

For each of the three, set a deadline of when you could reasonably fulfill them, whatever they are. Stretch yourself a bit. Write the three things, plus their deadlines, on a clean piece of paper and save it somewhere. And make a commitment to yourself that, come hell or high water, you are going to meet those deadlines.

Then get ready for the obstacles. Expect things to go wrong. If you fall down, get back up, brush off your shins and keep going.

Nothing really important comes easy.

By the way, no one needs to know what’s on your short list.

But as you obtain or achieve them, one by one, you will understand what real fulfillment is. You’ll understand priorities. You’ll know what focus is.

And you’ll be infinitely happier than the people still chasing every shiny object thrown in their path.

Then you can either pity them, or share this little exercise with them.

I think I know which one you’ll do.

(Let me know below…)

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