Brent Vouri knew he was going to die.
It was his most severe asthma attack yet, and his lungs had completely seized, just like a car engine when it finally runs out of oil.
The last thing he remembered that night was the hospital floor rushing up to meet him. His coma lasted for fifteen days, during which time he dropped forty pounds. When he finally awoke, he was unable to speak for another two weeks. For the first time in years, he had time to think.
Why, at only twenty years of age, had his life almost ended?
Asthma had been a part of Brent’s life since birth. He was well-known at the hospital after numerous visits to stabilize his condition. Despite having lots of energy as a child, he was never able to participate in physical activities such as skating or hockey. His parents divorced when he was ten, and the next few years were a continuous downward spiral of drugs, alcohol abuse, and a smoking habit that consumed thirty cigarettes per day.
He didn’t finish school and aimlessly drifted from one part-time job to the next. Even though his health was steadily getting worse, he chose to ignore it—until that fateful night when his body said, “no more.” With time to reflect, he concluded that he had brought this on himself through years of making bad choices. His new resolve was, “Never again; I want a life.”
Brent gradually became stronger and was eventually released from the hospital. One of his initial goals was to win a T-shirt for completing twelve fitness classes. He did it. Three years later he was teaching aerobics. The momentum was building. Five years after that he competed in the National Aerobics Championships. Along the way he decided to further his education by first completing his high school diploma and then successfully working his way through university.
Next, he and a friend started their own manufacturing business, specializing in producing apparel for retail chains. Starting with only four employees, Brent built the company into a multi-million-dollar enterprise supplying high-profile clients such as Nike. By deciding to make better choices and create better habits, Brent Vouri turned his life around—from yesterday’s zero to today’s hero.
Isn’t that an inspiring story?
Life doesn’t just happen to you. You determine how you respond to every situation, and bad choices often lead to unpleasant outcomes. Your everyday choices determine your destiny; however, one poor choice doesn’t doom you to make poor decisions forever.
Consistent choices lay the foundation for your habits, and your habits play a major role in how your future unfolds. This includes the habits you display to the business world every day, as well as the variety of behaviors that show up in your personal life. The truth is, successful people have successful habits—unsuccessful people don’t!
YOUR HABITS WILL DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE
Simply stated, a habit is something you do so often it becomes easy. In other words, it’s a behavior that you keep repeating. If you persist in a new behavior, eventually it becomes automatic.
For example, learning to drive a car with a standard gearshift is often difficult. One of the initial challenges is figuring out how to synchronize the clutch and accelerator pedals so you have a nice, smooth gear change. If you release the clutch too quickly, the car stalls. If you press down too hard on the accelerator without releasing the clutch, the engine roars but you don’t go anywhere. Sometimes the car jumps down the street like a kangaroo, surging and stopping as the new driver struggles with the pedals. However, with practice, the gear change eventually becomes smooth and you don’t think about it anymore.
We are all creatures of habit. When I drive home from my office every day, there are nine traffic lights along the route. Often I get home and don’t remember any of the lights. It’s like I’m unconscious as I drive. If my wife asks me to make a detour to pick up something on the way home, it’s not uncommon for me to totally forget because I’ve programmed myself to take the same way home every night.
The great news is that you can reprogram yourself any time you choose to do so. If you’re struggling financially, this is important to know!
Let’s say you want to be financially independent. Doesn’t it make sense to check your money-making habits? Are you in the habit of paying yourself first every month? Do you consistently save and invest at least 10 percent of your income? The answer is either “yes” or “no.” Immediately you can see if you are moving in the right direction. The key word here is consistent. That means every month. And every month is a good habit. Most people dabble when it comes to growing their money. They are very inconsistent.
Suppose you start a savings and investment program. For the first six months you diligently put your 10 percent away according to plan. Then something happens. You borrow the money to take a vacation, and you tell yourself you’ll make it up in the next few months. Of course you don’t—and your financial independence program is stalled before it even gets off the ground! By the way, do you know how easy it is to become financially secure? Starting at age eighteen, if you invest one hundred dollars per month compounding annually at 10 percent, you will have more than $1.1 million tucked away at age sixty-five. Even if you don’t start until you are forty years old, there’s hope, although it will take more than what you would have invested at age 18.
The solution is called a no exceptions policy. In other words, commit to your better financial future every single day. It’s what separates the people who enjoy a great lifestyle from those who continually struggle.
Let’s look at another situation. If maintaining excellent health is high on your list of priorities, exercising three times a week may be the minimum standard to keep you in shape. A No Exceptions Policy means you will maintain this exercise habit no matter what happens, because you value the long-term benefits.
People who dabble at change will quit after a few weeks or months. And they usually have a long list of excuses why it didn’t work out for them. If you want to distance yourself from the masses with excuses, understand that your habits determine your future.
Successful people don’t drift to the top. It takes focused action, personal discipline, and daily commitment to creating good habits. Rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, fulfilled or unfulfilled, happy or unhappy—it’s your choice, so choose wisely.
Les Hewitt, author / business coach
(403) 295-0500 www.thepoweroffocus.ca