The Good News / Bad News Test

There are certain things you notice when you live an unconventional lifestyle. When you’re an expat, or a permanent traveler, or just a person with an online business who has a lot of lifestyle flexibility, people you talk with often say, “Oh, I’d love to live like that!”

If you ask what’s stopping them, almost every answer boils down to overcoming the inertia of the situation they are in at the moment. That’s easy to understand. We all get entrenched in our circumstances and the truth is the inertia of that — like all inertia — takes extra effort to overcome. Some of us overcome that inertia, many of us do not.

So it’s helpful to look at the proven ways people have overcome their circumstances and moved toward something they would prefer. There are two proven tactics and I call them the Good News and Bad News tests.

Good News

Suppose a distant, rich uncle of yours died and left you an unexpected fortune. Would you spend all your time doing exactly the same things you do now every week? Would you spend all your time living where you live now? If not, where would you live and what would you do?

Once you formulate those answers, it’s only a matter of finding ways to do those things without the death of your uncle. And I say “finding” rather than “creating” because there are already millions of people living lives unlike any one of ours right now. Want to live on a tropical island? Millions of people already do. Want to travel frequently? Millions of people already do.

There are proven, viable ways to get from where you are now to where you want to be. You just have to decide where you want to be and what’s really preventing you from doing what you want. Thinking about the liberating feeling of a windfall can trigger the kind of creative problem solving it takes.

Bad News

I don’t want to be Debbie Downer here, but the reality is we are all a lot more likely to eventually get some very bad news than we are to have that distant uncle who remembers us in his will.

Imagine sitting in your physician’s office and being told some very bad news, like you only have two years to live and nothing can be done about it. Would that motivate you to think seriously about overcoming the inertia of your current situation? Would you still go to an unsatisfying job every day? Would you still not travel? Not live in an exciting place you’ve always wanted to live?

Again, this is just a tool to rattle our thinking into a new area of finding ways to make changes and take action, rather than focusing on the factors that prevent us from taking action. Human imagination is a wonderful thing. It’s the original Virtual Reality. We can imagine things that aren’t real and use them to motivate us in real life. Imagine bad news. Would you still be stuck? Or would you take the action you’ve been putting off?

Human action is the greatest source of improvement on the planet. It’s almost miraculous in it’s scope and reach. Each of us has within us the capacity to take action and improve our lives and happiness and, often, the happiness of other people in our lives. The capacity sits inside of us like a sleeping giant.

The single biggest difference between the people who are living in circumstances of their own choosing and those who are stuck where they don’t want to be, is the act of taking action to move towards a goal. Life can be difficult and even harsh. But in every case, the only way to move from where we are to where we want to be is to decide to take action and then do so.

My advice to the people who ask me how they can have more freedom in their lives: Decide what you want and then take any amount of action you can. Some people will move by careful inches, some will explode with massive action. To each his own. But find a way.

Here’s a great way to start. (On Day 2 we ask you eight questions that break your impasse.)