Doug Foley writes...

Go Beyond Income and Make An Impact

How to build a better life by aligning your goals and actions with the life you want


“You need to come home now, something’s wrong with the baby...”

That was the scariest phone call I’ve ever received, and began one of the most enlightening journeys of my life.

After graduating college I was focused on one thing; making as much money as I could.

I was fortunate enough to land a sales job right out of college and began to accumulate a substantial commission well over $75,000.

Living well outside my means in the expectation of receiving my commission, I accumulated credit card debt, bought a car I couldn’t really afford, and took vacations on borrowed money. Like many others, in 2008 that commission vanished when the company I was working for went bankrupt. I was left with a mountain of debt that I couldn’t afford, and no way out in sight.

I went from aspirations of wealth, to desperation and survival. I borrowed more to try and keep up appearances, only to dig a deeper hole. I began to pursue “side hustle” after “side hustle” in search of becoming an overnight millionaire.

I had a failed T-shirt company, a hobby blog about hunting and fishing, a poor attempt at networking marketing for a makeup company (yes, the same guy who had a hunting and fishing blog), and finally fell victim to an internet marketing scam called “Lawn Chair Millionaire.”

You would think that a college graduate would be smart enough to know that with a name like “Lawn Chair Millionaire,” it would be a scam, but in 2010, internet marketing was just coming alive and I was so desperate to get back to the top that I was willing to take whatever shortcut I could to get out of debt and and live a life of luxury.

Fast forward a few short years, married and with our first child on the way, I was about to learn one of the most powerful lessons of my life.

My wife was at what we thought would be a routine appointment for our soon to be child. While at work, I got a phone call I will never forget. The moment I picked up the phone, I could hear the panic in my wife’s voice; “Doug, you need to come home. Something is wrong with our baby.”

While I sped down the highway with a million thoughts going through my mind, I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to the doctors office. While our doctor tried to assure us that most of the findings were probably ‘incidental’, it kicked off 8 weeks of tests to determine if our soon to be child had Cystic Fibrosis, Down Syndrome, or something else on a long list of unknown possibilities.

I had spent the last 9 years of my career focused on making as much money as I could and now, no amount of money could help change the fate of our child.

Fortunately, our daughter was born a perfectly healthy 8lb 2oz baby, stunning our doctors. I was so shocked that when they asked me to share if she was a boy or girl I responded, “I don’t know, is the baby okay…” They responded, “the baby is totally fine, just tell us if it’s a boy or girl.”

As our daughter laid on the scale, it finally sunk in that she was okay, and that everything I had been doing in my career was wrong.

Life was less about making money, it was more about making an impact.

I was now responsible for building a legacy to pass on to this beautiful little girl. The choice I made going forward needed to go beyond just making money. That simple realization triggered the most transformative 18 months of my life.

I began to question the decisions I made, and became open to opportunities in a new light. I no longer looked at opportunities by “how much could I make?” Instead I began to evaluate “how many lives could I impact?”

That simple shift in mindset allowed me to double my income twice over the next two years and introduced me to hundreds of inspiring entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and billionaires. By focusing on impact, my income grew and I was able to leverage that growth to continue to make a bigger impact.

That is the difference between true abundance, and scarcity.

Here are the three most important lessons I learned from my journey to go beyond income and begin making an impact and how you can apply them to your life.

Lesson 1: Get Clear On Your Why

Simon Sinek literally wrote the book on this, “Find Your Why.” He also has one of the most prolific TED Talks on the subject, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action”. The clearer you are with your why, the more focused you can become on your decision making and goal setting.

The reason it is so important to identify your why is because it gives your goals and actions context. In extreme cases, it can be as powerful as someone’s will to live. One of the practices that cancer patients undergo in the course of their recovery, is to write down long-term goals, such as “attending my son’s wedding” or “seeing my grandchildren be born.”

While finding your why does not have to be life or death, the more intense the meaning, the more powerful the actions will be to make a change and go beyond.

Lesson 2: Set Clear Goals

One of the most common examples of goal setting, especially around New Years, is losing weight. The reason most people fail at this is because they have no clear consequences if they do not meet their goal.

For example, “I am going to lose 10 lbs” versus “I am going to lose 10 lbs because I want to live long enough to see my children graduate college” have two totally different implications. In the first example, it is not tied to anything of substance, whereas the second example has two very specific items: 1) A connection to something of meaning; and 2) A specific timeline.

According to Tony Robbins, motivation is controlled by two things - pain or pleasure. Either the pain is so great that you have no choice but to make a change, or the pleasure so so enjoyable that you want to make a change.

In most cases, very few people are going to be motivated to lose any weight unless they have been shamed into it (embarrassed by comments and made to “feel fat” equating to emotional pain) or have been scared into it (like having a heart attack equating to physical pain).

While there are thousands of books, templates, and tools for goal setting, one of the most effective goal setting tools has been following this simple format:

“I am going to {insert goal} BECAUSE {insert why} by {insert timeline}”

Lesson 3: Take Massive Action (Be Relentless)

Most people don’t fail from lack of ideas, they fail from a lack of execution. If we continue with the example of weight loss, for most people losing 10 lbs is actually fairly easy. Eat a proper diet and exercise regularly.

So if it is so easy to lose 10 lbs, why don’t people do it? Simple, it means a change in behaviour. It would mean that people would have to pass on the Coke, high-calorie lattes, and after-work drinks in exchange for some salads and hitting the gym.

The key to behaviour change is simply mastering your own personal motivation. If your goals stated above align with your why, the final step is aligning the action.

No matter how big your goals are, they are attainable with the right action steps. Break them down into tasks that can be repeated consistently over time to achieve your goals.

You can use the following to help guide this process: “I {insert action step} every {interval} in order to {insert goal} by {restate date}

“I will go to a spin class every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday in order to lose 10 lbs to see my children graduate high school in June 2025.

The reason this works is because it allows for specificity and reinforces your goal. By doing this, you reaffirm what you are working towards and it becomes ingrained in your decision making process. You will begin to assess situations with this simple question, “does this decision move me closer to or further from my goal.” Eventually, your subconscious will start making these decisions for you.

While the subjects of Finding Your Why, Goal Setting, and Action Plans are often complex, it is vitally important to keep them simple so that your time and effort can be spent on intentional execution - not in planning.

The worst thing you could do is to leave a dream unfulfilled because of a failure to act.

If you are serious about building a better future, you can start today by taking a look within and aligning your goals and actions with what you really want out of life. If you’re lost, and still not sure, just start somewhere. It is impossible to find what you’re looking for sitting in the same place.


About the Author:

Doug Foley is the Host of The Happiness of Pursuit Podcast, Media Entrepreneur, and Public Speaker. He is on a mission to help 1,000 entrepreneurs build a Million Dollar Business by January 4, 2023 through his work on the podcast, the Action Academy (launching February 2018), and his agency Foley Media.






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