How to reverse-engineer the career of your dreams

“The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.” — William James

Every beginning should start with your end.

Let’s face it, we, the people of the world, are living in a results-driven culture.

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“It’s about the results!” Right?

We see it in the workplace. We’re reminded of it on television. It’s plastered all over billboards and social media.

We’re fed a “Be – Do – Have” system of thinking. It all culminates in a bottom-line approach. “Show me the money.” “What have you done for me lately?” In reality, this obsession with results matters very little when juxtaposed against our life’s journey. Results don’t quite measure up to the minutes and hours lived in the “Be” and “Do” states. Results take time. They’re often goals we work toward.

And work, we should, toward our goals and dreams. I’m a chief proponent of this! Just know, your energy is far better spent and focused on living each moment of the day with vim, vigor and full immersion in the “Be” and “Do” activities. I also encourage you to recognize that you likely already have something great going. You just have to appreciate it for what it is.

We can find happiness, fulfillment and a sense of our purpose in the world in all three stages. Where we get lost and suffer is when we fixate too much on the future — what we don’t have. When we long for these results, that may not be what we truly want at heart, it leads to anxiety and a hollow feeling that leaves us empty and unsatisfied.

Building Your Foundation

Results are both objective and subjective. Some people live their lives trying to achieve particular results because they think it will make their parents, boyfriend, girlfriend or classmates proud. While those are wonderful complements and side effects, they should not be the reasons why you do what you do. The results you strive for should be for your own self-satisfaction.

Look at this small graph below of “Be”, “Do” and “Have.” I believe for far too long, our culture has obsessed over the results. As a result, there’s little attention paid to the fine details like values, beliefs, attitude and effort. These qualities form the backbone — the foundation — of who we are! We cannot possibly achieve big things in life if we bypass these important steps.

We need values to help shape our behavior and outlook on life. Our values become a reflection of the way we see ourselves. We behave in accord to the way we think and the values we hold dear. Take Steve Jobs for instance. He wasn’t a very religious man. But he was a man of great faith and conviction. He believed fervently in placing trust in himself — in anything — for the future, then working toward it with enthusiasm and dedication.

Once you have the “Do” and “Be” down, then you reap the results. Right? Or not right? Have you been paying attention?! Let me flip the script on you.

You Have It

“Carve your name on hearts, not tombstones. A legacy is etched into the minds of others and the stories they share about you.” — Shannon L. Alder

What if you started living each day — leading with the “Have”? What I mean by this is, let’s say you’re an up and coming entrepreneur. You want to create a great new app that everyone is going to love. Chances are, you’re already writing the code, and perhaps you’ve already created something to beta test. It could be awesome. But you might not think so. So you doubt. You feel you need external validation in the form of sales and social media buzz.

You don’t. In reality, your vision of “Have” may be what you already have going for you. You’re on a journey that’s chock full of great rides, turns and changes. Start living in that moment. That is the “Have”!!

But what if you do some introspective searching and find that you really aren’t completely happy with your current state? Then start making your future state — your Have — a reality now. You may not have the sold-out arenas or adoring fans. But start acting like you do. Start imagining exactly what the “Have” looks like. Paint a picture so vivid, it would make Michelangelo blush.

Envision exactly what this looks like. Lead with this. Live a life that celebrates your future success. Then, start being and doing what that is. It’s a philosophical and cultural paradigm shift that will change the way you live your life each day. It will propel you toward living your dream faster than you ever could have imagined.

It’s how you create a legacy and make the most of each moment.

This article first appeared on Medium.

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