The Client-centred Blog

How do you measure your success when life is completely unpredictable?

If there was one thing we learned in 2020 is that life is unpredictable.

None of us really know what is going to happen in the next hour, day, week, or month, do we?

We can make plans, set goals, have expectations and yet just as we have all recently experienced, we have little control over any of this.

So, how do you thrive and make this year your best yet given that it may turn out completely different to your expectations?

I think the way we measure our success is critical.

The goal line and the soul line

The goal line is the horizontal axis of your life. On this line are your goals and outcomes you move towards.

Who gets to choose what is on your line? You do.

You can aim for whatever you want in life but as we know there are no guarantees, right?

The soul line is the vertical axis of your life. At the top of the soul line are states of mind such as love, joy, and gratitude and at the bottom are states such as worry, blame, and fear, and there is everything else in between.

The soul line is where you live, and you are always somewhere on it.

One of my greatest misunderstandings about how life works was my belief that the goal line and soul line were somehow connected.

I would set a goal and if it looked as though I may fail or things did not seem to be going ‘my way’, then I would get discouraged, disappointed, or stressed.

I used my perception of how I was doing on the goal line as a measure of whether I was being successful or not.

It took me a long time to realise this was a fool’s errand.

The great Alan Watts said:

“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.”

Despite the incredible accomplishments of humanity, our highest ever levels of wealth, comfort, and convenience our happiness and mental well-being have not correspondingly improved.


Because we have forgotten how to be present.

We spend vast amounts of time lost in thinking – about the past, the future, ourselves, other people – and in doing so we forget that the only place that life is lived is right here, right now.

You cannot get time back. Once gone its gone.

Success and being fully present are not, as many people seem to believe, mutually exclusive.

They are hand in glove.

If you want to raise your game, create greater business success, experience happiness and inner peace, or whatever matters to you in life, then improving your quality of presence will give you the greatest return.

You cannot think, worry, bully, or stress yourself into having a wonderful life. A wonderful life is not something you work towards; it is something you can only live now.

Let me share a story with you.

Back in February last year whilst out in Phoenix I met fellow coach Devon Bandison.

He shared his experience of going through divorce and how he and his ex-wife remain the best of friends.

How did this happen?

He explained that even though they decided to go their separate ways he made the conscious decision that he was going to be ‘the best ex-husband ever’.

This was the standard he decided to commit to despite whatever he came up against during his divorce and afterwards.

Sometime after their divorce had been finalised, he said that one day, completely unprompted, his ex-wife said to him, “You know, you are the best ex-husband ever!”

My reflection on this was that we all have this capacity – to set the standard for our lives, regardless of external conditions.

It is easy to feel good when things go according to plan, but the unpredictability of life also makes this approach a lottery.

Yet we all have the capability to be fully present in our lives and experience the richness of life now, rather than pinning our happiness and well-being on things we have very little control over.

P.S. How do you break the habit of excessive thinking? This video with Eckhart Tolle has nearly 6.5m views. Click here to view

John Dashfield

John Dashfield spent 14 years as a self-employed adviser. Since 2006 he has been a coach, mentor and author helping advisers create transformations in their business and personal lives.


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