You only have one life! So why not add some variety in it?
Life is a balancing act, which should encompass both Security (to whatever level you require) and Surprise (joy, adventure). Make sure you include plenty of both in your recipe for success.
If there was one word I could use to describe what my life is all about, it would have to be “adventure.” But then again, this all depends on how you define adventure and what feelings you attach to it.
For me, adventure means having a choice of variety in my day, month, and year. This high level of freedom gives me the feeling of control I desire. Adventure is part of my strategy for balance. What is balance? It is your guide to being happy in your lifestyle.
It is keeping that life teeter-totter level, right in the center. Balance requires two factors:
These factors are opposites, as I’m sure you noted. And these opposites attract balance by pulling you to the center. Usually when you are out of balance, changes need to be made in one of these two areas.
Security (knowing what tomorrow will bring): For many this is primarily a financial issue, although it could be an emotional attachment related to a relationship.
Surprise (not knowing what tomorrow will bring): For many this is an issue of time and self-interest.
Creating the perfect career or lifestyle is up to you.
You get to choose your own dream. I believe that being a Martial Science instructor is the epitome of the American Dream. But it doesn’t mean that it is limited to martial arts or that you can’t achieve it without doing exactly what I do. I sleep less than eight hours a day, but don’t expect others to copy me in order to get what they want out of life or to be a Black Belt at what they do. The dream I am talking about is based on having what I believe to be the main ingredients for a happy successful lifestyle.
What will you do?
This is the power question and it could change your life for the good or for the bad. It deserves repetition: What will you do? Will you be a doctor or will you sell shakes and fries? What will you choose as your path or as your career? Will you choose something that makes you feel fulfilled and happy? Or will you ‘go with the flowing water’ and float along allowing the river of life to make choices for you? You could drown doing that!
What has to change in order for you to make your own choice?
It is my belief that this is absolutely the wrong approach; choosing a career path according to the monetary value society places upon it. I don’t feel confident that we can create success in our lives by simply choosing a career based on monetary values and rewards. You need to learn to separate hopes and dreams. There are plenty of highly paid doctors who are miserable and plenty of struggling shake-makers who can’t stop laughing. So your income may have little to do with your happiness, but very much to do with your security. As we all know, when the laughing stops, the bills are still there, so it is very important that we make sure our career handles all of the important areas of success, not one or the other.
Are you a solo star, or part of a group?
The martial art industry is not exactly the best business to get involved with unless you yourself are the next Jackie Chan. So reality hits you big time right there. Going it alone is a risky challenge and very few people make the cut. So your goals for being a rock star (although admirable) are not very realistic. This doesn’t mean that you can’t think big, it just means that before you hit it big, you might want to make sure you have all your financial bases covered along the way. My point is you should find people of like mind and create a network for your success.
When you join an existing network, you don’t have to spend the countless hours and thousands of dollars to get it recognized. You simply have to learn the skills and teach them to others, very much like any other career. The only difference is what makes ALL the difference. We talked about freedom and very few jobs offer freedom of choice. Not many people have the freedom to do what they want each day. They drive a BMW and make $100,000 a year only to realize they are missing one huge asset: they don’t own any of their time. They are well-paid slaves to the system. I don’t have anything against nice cars or money, but I believe that your success is dependent upon your freedom; time is more valuable than money.
Finally, the spice of life must be built into your career choice. Your actual job should be an adventure or what you consider to be a vacation. Your career can be full of surprise and enough changes to keep things exciting. If you want to be free, you may have to first sacrifice your free time to get there. It is an investment in your Life Bank. It takes usually about eight years to reach a level of skill worthy of recognition in any field and for many it takes more.
Realistically, it might take you three to five years to be a skilled martial artist, and with more training, a successful martial arts instructor. The bonus is that you get to Ride the Rainbow along the way. This means that the first few years will be just as fun and exciting. Also, it isn’t about punches and kicks, it is an adventure lifestyle. There are always new students, new strategies, new challenges, and something interesting is always around the corner. So the path to reaching your goal should be a part of the joy regardless of what career path you have chosen.
My goal in sharing my vocation is to say, that with hard work and training, there are many options in life. If you focus on your freedom, you very well just might get it. But at the same time I want to make it clear that it isn’t that hard to achieve either. The reason this is true is that if you enjoy what you are doing, then it really isn’t hard work to you at all. Taking responsibility is the real challenge.
Still jumping on and off the teeter-totter?
Okay, so you agree with me, but are still not sure what you really want to do? I wasn’t EXACTLY sure what I was going to do on many occasions. When I was a young teenager, although I knew I wanted to be involved with the martial arts and maintain freedom as my number one value, I also had other interests such as (believe it or not) being a rap singer. I was part of a small group called the Homeboy Crew. Most of my students have heard me mumble a rhyme or two. Before that, I wanted to be a stuntman, a movie star, and even a stand-up comedian. Being open to many options allows us to find our true path, and you must be willing to change directions.
I loved the martial arts, so I created a martial arts training camp. I love the outdoors, so I run adventure programs in the places I love to visit. I love to travel, so I created tour programs in the States and in exotic places such as Thailand where I am now as I write this book.
None of these were easy to do, nor were any of them an overnight success. Think about the difficulties of starting a company in a strange country, with its own unique laws, regulations, and cultural restrictions.
I remember when I first had the idea for a martial art supply company, I was 15 and I made some business cards. At the time, I was heavily into Japanese influence and so the Rising Sun inspired me to name it Rising Ninja – Martial Art Supply. I didn’t have much money, but it was that entrepreneurial spirit that pushed me into the idea. It didn’t last, as life was too full of various teenage opportunities for mischief and extracurricular activities. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that I revisited this goal. But the seed had been planted long ago and needed time to be nurtured and grow. This is how the law of attraction works. I had just started to promote my martial art system online. It was gaining popularity and I wanted to offer something more to the visitors to my web site. So I decided to offer discount martial art supplies. It was the rebirth of the rising Ninja!
Earlier that year, a very close friend had been visiting from Europe and I mentioned that I would like to start a martial arts supply store. I think he forgot about my skill at doing what everyone thought was impossible and he said something like, “It isn’t possible without a lot of cash or capital so you can import directly from China.” I know he didn’t mean to limit my potential, but we often say things to others that can create doubt and appear pessimistic. I know I too am guilty of not always being positive when it comes to a person trying to share their ideas. After dealing with numerous people falling out of deals, I am very critical when it comes to proposed plans. In any case, I didn’t let any doubt cloud my vision. I won’t share my trade secrets here in this book, but let’s just say that it was a financially wise choice. Good thing I did not listen to my “helpful” friend.
In fact, it did so well it ended up being one of my biggest ball and chains. I later sold the domain and business (in an effort to get back in balance) so I could focus my attention elsewhere without having to take up valuable space in my mental closet.
The quest for balance is ongoing
I love to teach and train others, so I find satisfaction and joy in working as a martial arts instructor, management consultant, and business owner; all of those roles help me do what I love for a living. But the truth of the matter is, I could be happy as a movie editor, actor, stuntman, writer, or graphic artist. There are so many vocations I enjoy. Going after the job for your happiness is not always the answer. You may already have the ideal job, but perhaps you haven’t taken time to properly evaluate its benefits. If your needs and levels of freedom are being met and you can creatively express yourself doing what you LOVE to do, then any job that offers such skills is great.
This might sound confusing as I promote having a vocation that is your vacation. But what I want to get across is that it is not the job that is important, but the value or values that are being met by having a career of choice and not coincidence.
Winjitsu Work Out
One strategy that can help you is to make a top 20 list of all the things that you like to do.
Take time today to make your list, then shuffle and reshuffle them until they are in priority order. Caution: This priority list may change over time. Be open to change, as you explore and learn about your dreams. It is a list, not a law, and it is definitely not carved in stone.