I humbled myself and got down on my knees, the cool floor pressing into my bones. “God,” I sobbed, “if you will show me the way, I will do the work.” Exhausted, overwhelmed, feeling shredded to my core, tears streamed down my face. How could it have come to this?
Only a few months earlier, my physician delivered the life altering news that the fatigue, numbness and headaches that I had been experiencing were, in fact, progressive multiple sclerosis. Shock, despair, anger and disappointment flooded me at once. What seemed like an inevitable future in a wheelchair and an early death haunted my reality. I went home to feel sorry for myself; consumed with self-pity.
Three days later, my marriage fell apart. We had chosen to handle the mounting stress in deliberate and self-serving ways, none of them healthy. We decided to separate; however, we continued to cohabitate for the sake of our three-year old daughter.
I pondered my life and how I got to this point. Perhaps pushing myself to exhaustion day after day, getting five hours of sleep every night and driving myself as a business owner, trainer, exercise instructor, teaching at the local college, doing television and radio appearances, training for triathlon and, of course, being a mom had been too much.
As I continued to struggle with my health, I wondered how much more a person could take. I would soon find out.
On Good Friday, I went to the health club I co-owned with my husband. There was a padlock on the door. We had been shut down for failure to pay our taxes; I had buried my head in the sand and chosen not to be overly involved with the finances. I stood there surrounded by my students, embarrassed and humiliated, wondering if this was truly the lowest it could get.
Making a decision to bury my head in the sand when exhaustion, overwhelm, and extreme stress were so prevalent was the worst mistake I could have made. Here at the bottom, feeling that there was nothing left to give, my only choices were to either surrender to circumstance or figure out a way to turn my life around.
My goal for anyone reading this is to know that whatever you are going through, or have experienced, you can transcend. This book is about hope; a hope for a better tomorrow. I will highlight the key strategies I used to go from excruciatingly ill, deeply in debt, a broken marriage and living on my brother-in-law’s sofa to running five Boston Marathons, becoming a self-made multi-millionaire, and passionately married to the love of my life? I believe you, too, can have a rich, beautiful, fulfilling life and these words are intended to help you do just that.
I can pinpoint 8 things that I did to turn my life around. There wasn’t just one strategy; all of these work symbiotically to create results.
1. Get Extremely Clear on What You Want in The Primary Areas of Your Life
I meet so many people who are out of balance – they have money, but their relationship is horrible or they have created a fantastic career, but they are thirty pounds overweight. The primary areas of our lives are health, relationships, money and contribution. When I hit rock bottom and finally came out of the other end of my pity party, I got clear on what I wanted. I created vivid images of what that looked like in my mind. Within six years, all of my visions came true.
2. Learn to Say ‘No’
If you are asked to do something that does not align with your objectives, say ‘no’. For many people, this is the toughest thing to do. Ask yourself, ‘is doing this going to get me closer to, or further away from what I want?’ Trust your gut. Ultimately, our lives are as much a reflection of the things we choose not to do, as those things we make a conscious choice to do.
3. End Your Day Before You Start Your Day
While he was alive, I had the honor of sharing the stage with the late Jim Rohn. Rohn was a business philosopher who also happened to mentor a young Anthony Robbins. Jim used to say that if you wanted to be successful, you should end your day before you start your day. He went onto expand on the concept by explaining that successful people write out their day the night before which allows the subconscious to go to work on how to best achieve those intentions.
This singular idea has made me millions. Six nights out of the week, I write out my day the night before. I am much more productive, focused and on point.
1. Surround Yourself With People Who Tell You That You Can
How often do you heed the words of someone who is not supportive? If you want to become successful, you must actively pursue the advice of those who believe that you can achieve your goals. Flooding your mind with the ‘you can do it’ philosophy is essential to success. Also, read books and watch videos that reinforce positive messages.
2. Understand Your Personal R.O.I.
In the investment world, an R.O.I. stands for return on investment. Everything in our world has one. For example if you eat fast food and feel sluggish afterward, it has a negative R.O.I. on your performance. If you feel fabulous on seven hours of sleep, then that has a positive R.O.I. Whether it is in your health, relationships, or business, focus more on doing those things that have a positive R.O.I.
3. Do Less to Do More
In my class, Organize Your Life, I teach people that lack of organization is the number one enemy of success. I think that everyone has talents and gifts that go wasted because they are disorganized. One of the fundamental reasons we become disorganized is that we are trying to do too many things partially well as opposed to doing a few things really well.
Whether you are a corporate executive, business owner, an employee or someone who simply just has a curiosity about getting better, I can promise you that if you structure your day where you focus on doing just a few things with panache, you will discover that you will accomplish much more than you realized you were capable of.
4. Daily Gratitude
The late Zig Ziglar said, ‘gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.” At first, writing out ten items of gratitude might be a challenge; try to find appreciation in the simple things in life. Commit for 90 days to writing out ten items of gratitude every night and see what happens.
When I got my first job after losing the business, I began to donate time and money. Every book on success that I had read spoke of tithing and contribution. The more I contributed, the more my income grew. Today my husband and I have funded projects for the homeless, helped girls recover from the trauma of human trafficking, built a school in Africa and much more. One of the things that drives the most successful people on the planet is to make a bigger impact with contribution.
Lastly, repeat these words after me, ‘I am enough.’ Know that you are capable of achieving great things in your life. I encourage you to embrace these eight strategies and go forward creating the life of your dreams. I will share with you what I tell my children every night, ‘you can be, do and have anything you dream. You are a winner.’
Susan Sly is a best selling author, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.