What drives you when you get up in the morning? Most people settle into one of three areas: survival, success, or significance.
If you're like many people, you may be struggling just to keep your head above water. You're in survival mode. Whether it comes from circumstances, setbacks, or poor choices, you have to put a tremendous amount of effort into just making it day to day. If you're working hard to make your life better for yourself and for your family, then I applaud you! Keep working. Once you've gotten to a place of stability, then what?
What will you live for? Will you live for yourself or others? Will you put all your energy into success? Into trying to get further ahead than others? Or will you work towards significance? Will you try to make a difference by trying to help others get ahead?
Once we've met our basic needs and reached a certain level of success, we realize we're hungry for something more -- like meaning and purpose in our lives. For some, that's a fairly smooth transition. For others it's not. Some people have reached, or surpassed, some of their financial goals, thinking it would bring some sort of fulfillment. They started their journey thinking, 'if I get more for me, I'll be happier.' They thought it would bring satisfaction and fulfillment. Only to discover they still weren't satisfied. In some cases, they're actually less fulfilled than when they started their journeys. Their lives feel hollow.
Many people tie their significance to their social position, their title, their net worth, or bank balance, the car they drive, their prestigious address, the man or woman on their arm, or some other status symbol. Their mentality is "if I do enough, and have enough, even if I'm self-centered, it will bring fulfillment." The problem is that self-centeredness and fulfillment cannot peacefully co-exist. They're incompatible.
Sometimes people struggling with this issue aren't sure what to do. For some, it looks like a midlife crisis, or looking for a career change in their 40s or 50s. But what they really want to switch too is a life that matters. If we're self-centered, we can make external changes, and still be unhappy with the new situation. No matter where we go, there we are.
Instead, they need to shift to significance, by putting other people first. Our thinking needs to change from "what's in it for me" to "what can I do for others?" Until that change occurs, happiness, fulfillment, and impact will always be out of reach.
That doesn't mean success is bad. The reality is that people have to achieve a certain level of success before they're ready for significance. We need to have "found ourselves", achieved something, and made ourselves valuable before we have something to give to others. Our success can actually be a source of influence to help us positively impact other people.
So instead of focusing on coming in first, focus on putting others first. When we can change our thinking from "what am I going to get" to "what am I going to give"...it will literally change your life.
Make the shift from success to significance.