ASK YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS. To find out what you want in life it is important to ask the right questions. What makes you happy? What gives you hope? What have you given up on in life? What do you have to look forward to? What do you believe is your true calling? You need to keep asking yourself these questions every single day. Start each day by thinking about what would help you gain that ravenous thirst for life. What would it take to make this day ahead special? Is there something you need to do? Then do it! Is there something you are avoiding? Then face it! Seize the day ahead instead of wasting it.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Frances Vidakovic, author of 20 books and blogger at Inspiring Life Dreams, a website where she inspires moms (and kids too!) to dream big and live more intentional, fabulous lives.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always, always loved to write, yet ironically I started out my career as a life coach rather than a writer. My role as a life coach was to help clients to set big goals, strategize actions and take consistent, purposeful steps towards their dreams.
There I was, week after week, helping my clients successfully reach their goals while my own dreams of being a successful writer lay dormant. Eventually I realized that I needed to not just TALK THE TALK; I needed to also WALK THE WALK.
So I set aside my life coaching business to finally do what set my heart on fire. Since then I have published 20 books, 9 courses and written over 200 blog posts on my parenting website.
What does it mean for you to live “on purpose”? Can you explain? How can one achieve that?
To me, living life with purpose can also be called intentional living. It may help to better understand intentional living by considering the alternative. When we live each day without intention and purpose, we let life pass us by. We waste days without realising how precious they are and let the circumstances and people around us control us. We feel controlled by everything, as if we are travelling in the passenger seat rather than IN CONTROL of our journey. We often forget the truth — that is, every day we are actually sitting in the driver’s seat.
When we start to become more purposeful or intentional with our actions and in what we do, we take back that control. We become the masters of our destiny, sailors of our own ship again and start to think about what we actually want to accomplish in life.
Intentional living requires a lot of self-reflection and also the courage to make the necessary changes in how you live your life. When you live life more intentionally you start to think about what you truly value in life. You begin to look at what’s working right now and what isn’t and what needs to change.
You realise life is short and your time to do things is NOW — not tomorrow, not next week, not next year or when you “feel” like it but right now, today. Living life on purpose means you stop complaining, stop wishing and dreaming that things would fall into your lap and set to work at actually making things happen. You become intentional with your thoughts, intentional with your time and intentional with your actions.
Do you have an example or story in your own life of how your pain helped to guide you to finding your life’s purpose?
My decision to live a more purposeful, intentional life coincided with the discovery that my second child had a degenerative neuro-muscular condition which requires him to now use a wheelchair.
When you have a child with a disability your outlook on life completely changes. You no longer take anything for granted. Life feels so fragile and precious and when you hear people complain about the most inconsequential things you almost laugh at how ludicrous they sound.
Even though a disability is not anything you would ever wish on a child, I now feel like it is a gift that opened our eyes to a completely different perspective on life.
At some point you just have to accept that these are the cards you have been dealt and it’s up to you how you choose to play your cards. You can feel sorry for yourself or you can work out how to make the best out of a bad situation.
Yes, it’s true, my life is different from most ordinary folk and in many ways we exist on a completely different level from everyone else. BUT that doesn’t mean my life is worse because it definitely isn’t.
To the contrary I feel blessed and lucky in so many ways. Our life is amazing and beautiful, despite all the challenges we face along the way.
For our family, we see our son’s disability as a gift that has changed the way we view the world. We now fully understand how precious and short life is. We don’t have time to waste on meaningless fights or self-pity or a bad attitude.
Instead there is a strange sense of peace that comes from having the courage to let go of what you can’t change. This act of letting go is sometimes the very thing that sets you free — from guilt, from sorrow, from regret, from unrealistic dreams.
There is something good to be learned from every bad thing in your life. What can you learn from these situations? You can feel sorry for yourself or you can work out how to make the best out of a bad situation.
If it wasn’t for my son’s disability — what others would consider to be a pain-point — I probably wouldn’t have the same level of compassion that I have now for people struggling in life or with special needs.
If it wasn’t for his disability, my husband and I possibly wouldn’t understand what is most important in life — love, family, kindness and building a strong community of friends who support us in every way. I probably also wouldn’t be chasing my dreams with the same fervent passion and determination that I do now.
I never take anything for granted anymore. I live each day intentionally and with purpose, because you never know what might be waiting for you around the corner.
People need to understand that in the grand scheme of things our lives are fleeting. This is why we need to make the best of what we have RIGHT NOW. We need to consciously, intentionally and with purpose treasure every moment while we are lucky enough to have it.
The United States is currently rated at #18 in the World Happiness Report. Can you share a few reasons why you think the ranking is so low?
I feel like so much of our unhappiness and discontent comes from living in a materialistic society where we are encouraged to value things and money over people and relationships.
We often buy things we can’t afford with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t even like. For some reason we really do believe that buying more “stuff” will fill that empty void in our souls when the secret to happiness is so much simpler.
Happiness comes from learning to be content with what we already have.
The truth is: some of the most precious things in this world are things you cannot buy and they do not have a price tag attached to them. These things are not only free but priceless. They include: love, friends, family, passion, spirit, sleep, laughter, fresh air and good memories.
If you concentrate on all the things you don’t have, you will NEVER have enough and NEVER be satisfied. And it’s hard to be satisfied with life, if you are never satisfied with yourself.
Satisfaction is only possible when we learn to control our desires. When you are content with what you have right now, you are rich. If you aren’t content with what you have right now then you are poor. It is as simple as that.
Unfortunately we live in a society that tends to give applause to those who succeed financially, who make their first million at a young age or create these amazing startup businesses and unfortunately overlooks individuals who succeed in other less obvious ways. We don’t give out medals to those who nurture happy families. There’s no obvious recognition for living a simple life and raising happy, kind and respectful children.
If you are solely fixated on acquiring material possessions there will come a time when you realize it will never be enough because you are searching for happiness and contentment in all the wrong places.
Ultimately, happiness is about what is on the inside, not the outside. It’s also about connecting with others on a human level, and understanding that no matter where you live in this world, when we are cut we all bleed, when we hurt, we all shed tears. As Irene Brown once said we are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives and without it there is suffering.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
When I think of myself as successful it’s purely because I am doing what I love for work and it makes me feel so HAPPY. I hope my own success serves as an example to other people that you should take the chance to chase your own dreams.
Thankfully I now have a platform in the form of my website inspiringlifedreams.com that encourages and teaches people how to do just that — chase their dreams, live life well and parent with more intention.
There is nothing sadder than a person who realizes too late that their life has slipped away, that they could have made changes at any point but opted to do nothing instead. There’s nothing sadder than always wondering with regret “what could have been…”
My website helps people realize the importance of intentional living and making happiness and inner peace a priority. If I inspire even one person to get up and take action, then I feel like some goodness has been spread out into the world.
It’s much like the butterfly effect which theorized that the flap of a butterfly wings can later cause a hurricane elsewhere in the world. What this means is that even the smallest new actions can ultimately steer your life down a completely different path. I would love to think that encouraging people to take action will have a domino effect that positively impacts the lives everyone around them too.
What are your 6 strategies to help you face your day with exuberance, “Joie De Vivre” and a “ravenous thirst for life”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
1 — ACCEPT THAT THIS IS IT
This is it — YOUR ONE AND ONLY LIFE TO LIVE. Remember this: life is not a dress rehearsal. There is no rewind, pause or fast forward button. You don’t get to go back in time and redo your mistakes. Life will keep moving forward, day by day, whether you choose to embrace it or not.
Ask yourself now: do you want to have a crappy life or a great life? It is up to you to make the most of it, no matter what cards you have been dealt with. Your only choice to live well is to live life with purpose.
2. BE GRATEFUL
In my personal life I feel grateful to still have my parents and sisters living close to me. I’m blessed to have a good marriage, two gorgeous kids and a strong extended family and tribe of friends whom I love dearly. I also absolutely love what I do for work and feel grateful that I get to write and work on my blog every day from the comfort of my home.
That doesn’t mean that my life is perfect. That doesn’t mean I don’t face hurdles and challenges on a regular basis. But every day when I wake up I make the conscious choice to count my blessings first. It is so much easier to start the day feeling excited about life and thirsty for happiness when you realize just how lucky we are to BE ALIVE in the first place.
3. ASK YOURSELF THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
To find out what you want in life it is important to ask the right questions. What makes you happy? What gives you hope? What have you given up on in life? What do you have to look forward to? What do you believe is your true calling?
You need to keep asking yourself these questions every single day. Start each day by thinking about what would help you gain that ravenous thirst for life. What would it take to make this day ahead special? Is there something you need to do? Then do it! Is there something you are avoiding? Then face it! Seize the day ahead instead of wasting it.
4. KEEP AN OPEN MIND ABOUT LIFE
Years ago an older coworker said to me, when I was still young, naive and thought I knew everything, “never assume anything in life.” Don’t assume you know how people feel. Don’t assume you know how people are going to react. Don’t assume what you think is right is necessarily right for someone else. Don’t assume you know where this opportunity will take you.
It made me stop dead in my tracks and thereafter I have always tried to maintain an open mind about everything in this amazing world. I now think Socrates said it best when he said: “All I know is that I know nothing.”
Having an open mind means you are more open to adventures in life. You are more willing to take risks. You are less rigid and more spontaneous and flexible. You embrace life and everything it has to offer instead of assuming you know it all and therefore don’t think you have anything left to learn, which brings me to my next point.
5. KEEP LEARNING
The opportunities in this world are endless and you will never have enough time to explore every country, every city, every hobby, every course or every great thing that there is on offer to us while we are here on Earth. But pick something! Be thirsty for knowledge and growth. Stay curious and passionate, keep learning, exploring and growing. If something interests you find out more.
A year ago I hadn’t even heard of blogging and now I have this amazing platform that I have created purely because I was thirsty for knowledge and desired to learn more. And if something else interests me in the future — like photography or podcasting — I won’t hesitate to chase that dream too. Learning new things honestly keeps us feeling alive.
6. SERVE AS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHERS
This tip possibly comes to mind because I am now a mom of two kids and I feel a certain responsibility to set a good example to my children, When you have kids you don’t have that same luxury anymore to be selfish or thoughtless with your actions.
Instead your kids watch your every move. They pay close attention to your actions, they watch you like a hawk and whether we like it or not, they often imitate what they see. Therefore it makes sense that if I want my children to embrace life each day then I absolutely must do the same.
I want my kids to be excited by life. I want them to not be afraid to make mistakes because that is how we learn. I want them to step outside their comfort zone, take risks and chances and work hard for what they love. I want them to also appreciate the small stuff too because in the end it is the small stuff that matters most.
To help raise children who behave in this way I need to set a good example for them myself. I need to naturally lead the way and show them how it’s done. As they say: monkey see, monkey do.
Do you have any favorite books, podcasts, or resources that most inspired you to live with a thirst for life?
My all-time favorite book is CHOOSING HAPPINESS by Stephanie Dowrick. This book reminds me regularly that happiness is a CHOICE and it gives me the tools to live life simply as a happy healthy human being.
A close second has to be THE ALCHEMIST by Paulo Coelho, an author I absolutely adore. This book reminds me that there is ultimately a purpose to every hurdle and challenge we face in life.
We may not see it immediately, we may even think that our world is falling apart around us when disaster happens but we later realize that each challenge existed to strengthen us and take us closer to where we are meant to be.
As the book hints there is no such thing as just a coincidence. Everything happens for a reason. Every hardship has a gem buried inside it. If I had to take two books with me to a desert island, these are definitely the two I would take with me.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that relates to having a Joie De Vivre? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite quote has to be “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got.” This is especially relevant to me because once upon a time I had big dreams — I was seriously the best daydreamer ever! — but I didn’t actively get off my bottom and make any changes in my life.
So was it any surprise when everything stayed exactly the same? We need to remember that great jobs, healthy bodies, completed novels etcetera do not appear at the click of a finger. They take work! The secret to a more purposeful life is simple. If you want things to stay the same, do nothing. If you want things to change, do something different. Stay determined, take action and be consistent every single day.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My current focus is on creating more tools and resources for parents and kids to help them live more inspiring lives. I have just released some new courses on Mindful Living, How to Be A Better Parent, How to Reignite Your Relationship and Create A Life You Love.
More importantly I am slowly building an online community where people can come to for support when they feel overwhelmed, lost or unmotivated. People need to know they are not alone in their struggles and that it is totally normal to face hurdles. There’s no such thing as Superwoman — we all lose it sometimes and it’s important to know that you can and should ask for help. I truly believe knowledge is power and when you know better, you can finally do better.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I absolutely love the Pay It Forward and Random Acts of Kindness movement which reminds us how wonderful it feels to give back to society and help others without expecting anything in return.
If I had to start my own movement it would be to encourage adults to open their eyes to the youth of today and DO A YOUNG PERSON A FAVOR. We often forget that children are our greatest treasure and our future. Many of them have a desire to succeed and a desire to do well but simply face too many closed doors and get discouraged.
If you can open a door to a young person, open it for them. If you can offer them guidance or a helping hand, do it while you can. Lift them up when they are feeling down. Introduce them to people who may offer them further guidance, inspiration or opportunities. Do for them what potentially no-one was willing to do for you because deep down you know how amazing that opportunity would have been.
One small action from you could make the world of difference to a child or teen. As Pope John Paul II said, a nation that kills its own children has no future. So do what you can to nurture, nourish, grow and give hope to our next generation. Let’s do what we can to give them a helping hand.