If there’s ever anything that you’re not happy with or want to change on the outside of your life, then the place where you need to begin the process of changing it is on the inside—not the outside. Why? Because of the Law of Correspondence.
What is the Law of Correspondence? It’s an essential life principle that states that what takes place on the outside of your life, corresponds to what’s taking place on the inside of your life. For example, you’ve probably observed over the years that when you’re feeling a little blue, you probably tend to wear sweats and “baggier“ clothes. Why? Because what happens on the outside corresponds to what happens on the inside.
Once you begin to understand this principle, it’ll change how you go about creating any kind of change in your life. For example, if you notice that you’re not utilizing your time well (e.g. choosing to watch a lot of TV rather than doing something you know you should do or doing meaningless activities just to use up time) then you know that something is amiss internally. If you try to move from poor use of time to good use of time, it probably won’t work. Why? Because there’s something going on internally (in your beliefs or attitudes or self-esteem etc.) that is causing you to make poor choices about your time.
Or back to the dress illustration. If you notice that you’re consistently choosing to wear sweats (note: forget about work because work requires you to wear nice clothes, I’m talking about when you’re in complete control of your wardrobe choices), then you know there’s something going on inside. Just to go from sweats to nice casual isn’t the answer—there’s something going on inside that’s causing the behavior. If you change the belief, then you can change the behavior.
This is why it’s so incredibly important to continually work on developing high self-esteem. How you feel about yourself (from your character to your physique to your intelligence to your work to your relational abilities etc.) drives just about everything in your life. The better you feel about yourself, the better you’ll do in just about everything. Why? Because of the Law of Correspondence. If you feel good on the inside, you’ll perform well on the outside.
In addition, whenever you want to change something in your life, you always want to dig down deep and discover what beliefs you have about that area. Why? Because beliefs (internal) determine behaviors (external)—what happens on the inside will work itself out to the outside.
For example, right now I need to lose a few pounds. Using the Law of Correspondence, what’s on the outside is driven by what’s on the inside. Just trying to change the outside by going to the gym and eating healthier is a strategy doomed to fail. Why? Because I have a set of beliefs and emotions that have gotten me to this point. Just trying to change the outside, without working on changing the inside is pure foolishness.
This is why you’ll often hear people say, ”You need to change the picture you have of yourself!“ Why? Because if you change the picture (for ex. from ”I’m not successful“ to ”I am successful“), then you can change the behaviors (from self-sabotage to self-enhancement).
So never forget the Law of Correspondence. If you want to change anything on the outside of your life (i.e. a behavior you don’t like), then make sure you start by looking inside (your beliefs, emotions, self-esteem, etc.) … because ”As within, so without!“
The two of you are both so incredibly talented. There’s virtually nothing that you can’t do. But to get there, you’ll both need to do some head work because the Law of Correspondence is inviolate-able. “As within, so without,” is a rock solid principle you need to own and use to your advantage.
As I’ve mentioned before, most people like the idea of being better or being more successful or being fit or being happy or being in a great relationship—but yet they don’t really want those things—despite what they might say. Why do I say that? Because they’re not willing to do what’s necessary to obtain the very thing they say they want.
I’m sure you’ve observed this phenomenon among your peers. You probably have friends who’ve told you that they’d like to get good grades, yet they’re not willing to do the hard work necessary to get good grades. Instead they continue to play and party all day and night with their friends. Or you probably have friends who say they’d like to get healthy and in shape, yet they aren’t willing to change their eating habits or get up early to go to the gym. So do they really want to be healthy and fit? I don’t think so.
If you really want something—and it’s more than just a “like to have” or “sounds like a good idea” kind of thing—then you’re going to have to avoid doing what most people choose to do—and instead make some sacrifices. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice.
The American ideal of, “You can have it all!” is a flat out lie. No one can have it all. In order to obtain anything worthwhile in life, you have to make sacrifices. You have to give up something NOW in order to obtain something that you perceive to be better LATER. It’s always been that way and it always will be. Remember, first you make your choices, then your choices make you.
1. If you’d like to be healthy and fit, then you have to be willing to say, “No!” to most of the food choices put in front of you. And you’re going to have to give up some other activities (which could include some sleep) in order to get some exercise in. No one gets healthy and fit by eating whatever they want and not exercising. Sacrifices have to be made. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice.
2. If you want to be a successful employee, then you have to be willing to do some of the things most employees won’t. You’ll have to sacrifice some of “your time” so you can do work before or after the hours you’re required to work. You’ll have to read more or take more courses. You’ll have to say, “No!” to getting together with friends from time to time in order to get a project done or to volunteer for an extra assignment or to make sure you get to bed on time so you can be fully engaged at work the next day. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice
3. If you’d like to be in a great relationship with a guy (yeah, I know, I can’t believe I just wrote that either :-), then you have to be willing to make some sacrifices. One of the things we clearly learn from Jesus’ example is that love is all about sacrifice. Love is not about convenience (a mistake too many people make). Love is about putting someone else’s needs above your own. Note: don’t read anything more into that statement than is intended. Your needs still matter and you shouldn’t be in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t get this principle. Love is a two-way street full of mutual love and sacrifice. And hopefully, your mother and I have modeled that well for the two of you.
4. Finally, if you’d like to change anything in your life that you don’t like, then just realize that you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. The bottom line is this—if you could be different just by wishing you were different, then you’d already be different. But you’re not, because you can’t just wish to be different. If you want to be different, you have to give up some of the things you’re currently doing, in order to get something better in the future. It’s always been that way, and always will be.
If you want to succeed at anything in life–and I don’t care if it’s playing the piano or starting a business or getting straight A’s or winning a tennis tournament or being a great parent someday–never forget the title of this post. Make it one of your mantras. Write it on a bunch of stickies and place them around your home and workplace. Why? Because there is no success without sacrifice! Period.
P.S. And as Zig Ziglar likes to say, “You don’t really pay the price, you get to enjoy the price.”
There is tendency in our culture, and both of you have picked it up, to run everything to the edge. In other words, you tend to wait until the last moment to do something. You tend to spend what you have. You tend to wait until the gas gauge is past empty. You tend to think you can get from point A to point B in the perfect amount of time, etc. And the problem with all that is that life doesn’t work out perfectly (as I mentioned in the lesson I wrote on, “Forget Being On Time”).
But there’s a more important reason to create margin than just being on time/early. And that reason is your health, which could be more specifically called, “Your stress levels.” Believe it or not, stress takes a bigger toll on your lives than either of you are willing to admit. And stress doesn’t just cause headaches, it increases your susceptibility to colds, depression, heart disease, tooth and gum disease, ulcers, diabetes, it impairs cognitive functioning and it even increases abdominal fat. Any way you add it up, stress is just bad.
And the amazing thing about stress is that the two of you have far more control over the amount of it you experience than you’re willing to own up to. Yes, I know both of you are Ps (Perceivers in Myers-Briggs language) so you like to be spontaneous. But personality typologies are not meant to be prescriptive, just descriptive (i.e. they’re not meant to be excuses).
So, if you’d like to live a more full and enjoyable life—with a whole lot less stress—I’d encourage you to make a commitment to creating a life filled with margin in everything you do. For example
1. Create margin with your money. If you read the post on Money Management 101, you should have noticed that I suggested having at least three month’s living expenses in your checking/savings account. This is margin. On the other hand, when you run your balance in your account to near zero, every day is stressful. “Can I make this purchase?” “Can I afford to go out to dinner with my friends?” “WIll I have enough money to pay my rent this month?” Etc. That’s all stress. The easy way to alleviate all that stress is to simply create some money margin.
2. Create margin with your gas. You’ve heard me say this a hundred times, but running on empty is always a bad idea. Treat a quarter tank or an eighth of a tank as an empty tank. Fill up before you ever hit “E” and you’ll never wonder if you have enough gas to get to your next appointment or if you’ll be the sad motorist on the side of the road waiting for AAA to come by while everyone else looks on thinking, “Loser. Sure glad that’s not me!”
3. Create margin with your time. I keep hammering this because there’s nothing wrong with arriving early. No one gets marked as a, “Loser!” because they arrive early. In fact, just the opposite is true. When you arrive early, you’re seen as a winner. Plus, you’ve just eliminated all that stress of wondering if you’re going to be on time (and of getting upset with that slow driver or that big truck or those “stupid traffic lights that are conspiring against me.” :-)
4. Create margin with your sleep. I know this may come as a surprise, but there’s nothing wrong with getting a good night’s sleep—really.There is no law that says that if you’re a certain age, like 18 -21, that you have to stay up until at least 2:00 a.m. Get the rest your body requires (6-8 hours) and you’ll be surprised at how much better you feel all day long.
5. Create margin with your relationships. Invest time in your relationships before conflict arises. Keep short accounts. Ask more questions. Send more notes. Etc. Our ethnic history (Italian) has a principle worth remembering, “We always want to be owed more favors than we owe.” Or as Harvey MacKay puts it in his book on networking and relationships, “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.“
6. Create margin for yourself. The good news is that both of you have good hearts and love helping other people. The bad news is that you can become so focused on helping others that you don’t create time for yourselves—to replenish your emotional tanks. But Jesus’ words are clear, ”Love your neighbor as yourself.“ In other words, loving others is predicated on you loving yourself first. You can’t keep giving out, if you don’t take care of you first. So make sure you create time for just you, every day!
Margin-less living is no fun—It’s stressful, and it’s terrible for your health. Instead, make a decision, starting today, to create more margin in everything you do. You will not get in trouble by having excess time or money or rest or emotional energy. In fact, the opposite will happen. You’ll reap all kinds of rewards for having lots of margin in your life–including a lot less stress and a whole lot more joy!