How to Live a Life of Significance

Make Every Day Your Masterpiece

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John Maxwell says “If you want to live a life of significance, you will have to give up some things. The pathway of possibility is filled with trade-offs.”

I will admit that this is probably one of the most difficult leadership principles for me to swallow. I’m the queen of overachievement. I want to do it all, do it well, and do it now. Ever feel like you are trying to do everything all at once too? Maybe your LinkedIn headline reads “Harried Professional Juggling Complicated Life, Family, and Too Many Commitments.”

If you want to live a life of significance and make every day your masterpiece, you must give up to go up.

Overcommitting Meets Letting Go

I excel in overbooking myself and expecting myself to manage everything all at once. I want to add value to others, excel in my own business, volunteer in my professional organizations, be a motivational speaker, empower women, write in several blogging arenas, grow my network, be a supportive spouse, be a good friend, create art, handle domestic chores, train as a competitive athlete and continue to learn and grow.

I’m exhausted just reading my own list.

I struggle with letting go and I understand that life is a series of trade-offs in order to achieve the goals we set. I feel very grateful that I have choices. It’s making the right choices that winds me up.

Understanding what I can let go of so I can focus effectively can be stressful. Even though I have eliminated or mitigated all obvious time-wasters like social media and T.V., it boils down to prioritization and understanding what is necessary to give up to go up.

The Pivot Point

It’s a fact that you cannot do everything well. There comes a time when you must choose where to focus in order to reach your goals. Try to do too much and you lose focus and flounder. Do too little and you don’t gain momentum.

There are two ingredients to making every day your masterpiece: decisions and determination. Determining your goal-contributing factors and sticking to the plan will be the challenge.

We are easily distracted by pretty colors and bright lights. If you have an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, you will allow yourself to overcommit and land right back where you started.

“There is no significance without sacrifice,” explains Maxwell. “The good news is you will be moving toward a better and more fulfilling way of life.”

Finding Your Path To Fulfillment

1. Focus on your strengths. What do you do well and enjoy? Everyone is good at something that adds value to others. Professionally speaking, being the quintessential Jack of All Trades is not conducive to positive career development. It’s like the shotgun approach to life: Aim in a general direction and you’ll probably hit something. You might feel that you have more employment flexibility, but it doesn’t make you stand out. It doesn’t allow you to focus and add the right fuel to light your inner fire.

2. Prioritize. What can you let go of that doesn’t serve you? I am still learning how to let go of parts of my life that pull me off the path. Some things are beloved hobbies or relationships with groups that I have spent time and energy building. It’s painful, and I don’t like it, but I know I must let go. You cannot do all things well. If you try, you will be guilty of doing nothing well.

3. Build your team. I once discovered this excellent quote: “We are either surrounded by people who lift us up or bring us down. Be careful who you choose to spend time with; you become a reflection of your friends.” We all need people in our lives who support us, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to be as unique as can be. Choose to be around people who will raise your standards, not lower them. Build a team, network, or group of friends who encourage the best from one another and compliment one another’s talents.

4. Start somewhere. Start small. Just start. There is no such thing as the perfect time to start focusing on leading a fulfilling life. If you don’t start somewhere, you will be nowhere at all. You don’t have to be famous, rich, an executive or influential. I believe that there are only ordinary people in the world. The only thing that makes an ordinary person extraordinary is that they didn’t give up on their dream.

The Secret Sauce

What’s your neverending list clogging the pipeline of your dreams? For some, it’s a thousand excuses.

If you want to live a life of significance, understand that the only person holding you back is you. Dreams are free, but fulfilling them requires that you stare fear in the face, let go and start somewhere.

I know it can be a challenge; I’m right there with you, doing the same thing. If you understand where you can add value (decisions) and persevere (determination) you will make every day your masterpiece.

Originally published at

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