It's easy to lose sight of the greater meaning in your life in the midst of running your business and making time for your family and friends. But the good news is that you can take action today to begin to get back on track. In his new book, The Art of Significance (Portfolio, 2013), motivational speaker Dan Clark outlines how people find meaning in their lives and create lasting, positive change that helps others and enriches our own lives.
"Significance comes when we create value and relevance where the people we care about see that we're giving more than we're taking away and making them better because of it," he says.
Clark says the happiest and most successful people have added a measure of value to their lives. Here are four key actions to take to live a life of greater significance.
1. Prioritize your values.
Many people are successful, but people who live lives of significance actually think about and work toward what they want their lives to look like overall instead of just collecting the trappings of wealth, Clark says. They're building businesses and getting involved in causes that make a difference or fulfill a need in their communities or the world.
The hard work they put out in the world is reflecting the values that are most meaningful to them, while preserving time for themselves and their families. Developing a capable team of employees or contractors and focusing on servicing your most profitable customers can help you better manage your time and hit your income goals instead of just working constantly, trying to do it all yourself.
2. Practice persistence.
Patience is passive and gives us an excuse to wait around for what we want instead of making it happen. Instead of being patient, be persistent in pursuing what you want out of life, regularly trying new approaches when the old ones don’t work instead of waiting for the same old actions to produce new results.
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3. Surround yourself with positive people.
One of the most important steps to take in leading a significant life is to surround yourself with people who have the same commitment. When you spend time with people whose values match yours, you're supported in your beliefs and actions.
"We become the average of the five people we associate with the most, which means we need to create our own boards of directors, surrounding ourselves with people we can lean on that we can get advice from and who can help us stop spending all of our time at work," he says.
If you feel drained instead of energized by the people around you, it's time to seek out new contacts and colleagues who energize you. Clark suggests creating your own personal board of directors by finding people you admire and respect. It doesn’t have to be a formal group, but and make plans to meet or have phone calls with each regularly to get new ideas and inspiration.
4. Think locally.
People who live significant lives don't necessarily jet around on airplanes going to high-profile events and board meetings. They improve their own parts of the world, Clark says. That could mean creating a great employment environment for a dozen people, raising funds for a cancer charity, or volunteering in a local school district. The key is that your actions are in alignment with your values and you are committed to making a positive difference.
"When people say, 'I like myself best when I'm with you,' and you know you're making the world a better place, you're living a life of significance," Clark says.
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