February 2004 Issue --> Success Article
Take the Ride of Your Life!
Live the Life You Deserve

By: Joyce Weiss


As you go through your day-to-day routine, do you ever feel as if you’re pedaling a bicycle uphill in the wrong gear? Do you ever feel as if you’re racing through life out of control and unable to put the brakes on fast enough? Do you ever yearn for the feelings of freedom and self-reliance you used to have when you were a child pedaling away on your very own Schwinn, Huffy, or Evans Colson? If so, you’re not alone. Between the pressures of home and work, many people feel overwhelmed and are desperately seeking some sort of balance in their life.
For many people, their most vivid childhood memories center on their first bicycles. Baby boomers, sounding like teenagers again, describe their muscle bikes, stingrays, ten speeds, and mountain bikes. They vividly recall that “tat-a-tat” sound of playing cards placed in the spokes and the sight of banana seats, high-rise handlebars, and shiny chrome fenders. The more people talk about their bicycle stories, the more it becomes evident that those experiences are deeply related to who they are today.
Think back for a moment to your first bicycle experience. Who taught you how to ride? What lessons did you learn? Are you the same now as you were when you were a little girl or boy? When we look back at the many ways our bicycle experiences have impacted our lives, we gain a better understanding of how to recapture those childhood feelings of independence, adventure, and joy. We learn how to maneuver though our adult journey and are able to enjoy this ride we call life. The following suggestions will help you regain your sense of balance so you can fully appreciate all the marvels in the world around you.
1. Go from fear into gear.
Many people play victim to fear and let it hold them back from accomplishing great things. Instead of taking action to overcome adversities, they prefer to complain about events without looking for other perspectives. Very often they are simply afraid to try something new or to go against the grain. However, if you want to lead a more fulfilled and balanced life, overcoming the fears that hold you back is the first step you must take.
Think back to the first time you rode a bike. Were you scared? Probably so. But most likely, your fear was soon outweighed by the incredible sense of accomplishment and pride you felt as you remained upright for increasingly longer periods of time. You may have even fallen off your bicycle many times, but each time you looked your fear in the face, got right back on, and pedaled again. That courage to face your fears, fall, and get up and try again is the key quality to a successful life. You need to pedal on when stressful and challenging events happen and entice you to give in to your fears. When you can pedal past your fears and shift yourself into gear, you’ll be better able to attain the peace of mind you desire.
2. Know who you are to get what you want.
Being yourself when it seems the world is trying to make you like everyone else is a constant struggle. Your boss wants you to be more aggressive, the PTA wants you to be more nurturing, and your spouse wants you to be more compassionate. What do you want to be? Too many times we get so caught up in what others want that we neglect what we want. The key to overcoming this obstacle is to get in touch with your authenticity.
Being authentic is about being yourself, that is, connecting with your natural self. When you are authentic, you can identify both your values and the people who respect the real you. You’ll be able to realize that success in life isn’t about achieving; it’s about becoming your authentic self in every facet of your life. When that happens, you can make life truly work for you because feeling satisfied and reaching your potential are both part of the fulfillment equation.
Despite what’s going on in your life at the moment, deep down you know what is right for you. When you were a child, this authenticity came easily. If you wanted a purple bike, you didn’t care what others thought of it. You felt the freedom to decorate your bike with streamers, horns, flares, and crash bars. Now that you’re an adult, the same freedom of authenticity may still hold true. When it comes to your life, always remember that you’re in charge. You don’t want a bicycle built for two—you want a bicycle built for you.
3. Stay balanced when the road is bumpy.
The majority of people are running on empty these days. They’re exhausted from going all out, all the time. They need to learn that there’s more to life than simply increasing its speed. When they do, they’ll create a balance that will enable them to excel.
If your life feels out of balance, the quickest way to identify what is missing is to know your core values. Values are the qualities that have tremendous impact on your life. Core values are the laser beams that keep you focused on achieving your brilliance. Some common values are empathy towards others, commitment to a cause, uniqueness and creativity, and being at peace with the self. When you ignore your personal values for the sake of others, keeping balanced is a challenging ordeal.
What is holding you back from achieving balance in your life? Can you say no to the things that are not consistent with your core values? To be fulfilled, sometimes you have to say no to others. It takes courage to define your boundaries and maintain your authenticity. Ask yourself if you spend your time on things that really matter to you or if you spend your time on other people’s goals. To gain balance, you first must be true to yourself. When you can gear down, relax, and enjoy the flowers on the side of the road, you can learn to see the forest for the trees and the bike paths that go through it.
4. Discover the joy right where you are.
Instead of wasting energy worrying about the small matters, take a look at the grand picture of your life—your family, your friends, your accomplishments, and your health. Concentrate on what is in front of you right now and enjoy the moment for what it’s worth. Too many people constantly focus on bigger and better possessions and are not experiencing the reality of the precious gifts right in front of them.
Every day, people push themselves to the point of exhaustion. They complain that they have too much on their plate and they don’t know how to enjoy themselves anymore. That’s why it’s important to schedule time for yourself every day—whether it’s 15 minutes or one hour. Making the time for yourself is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. In the grand scheme of things, our time here on Earth is so short. If we don’t make some changes, how many of us, as we breathe our last breath, will truly be able to say, “I feel fulfilled with who I was and with what I did. Life was a celebration.”
In order to discover the wonder in everyday events, remember the feelings you had as a child when you rode your bike just for the sheer pleasure of riding. What can you do today to rekindle those emotions? Think about the people who bring happiness to your life. Start appreciating what you have instead of concentrating on what you want. When you can celebrate all the good your life has to offer, you’ll feel the joy that’s inherently yours.
Success in life isn’t about how much you achieve; it’s about the person you become and the fulfillment you gain. Your ability to face your fears, be yourself, stay balanced, and enjoy the moment will help you recapture the feelings of your youth when your bike was your ticket to exhilaration and life was an adventure to be lived. Just as you were the only one who could control your bike’s path, you and you alone are the only captain of your life. Sometimes the journey will be easy coasting, while other times it will be an uphill bumpy trek. Either way, it’s up to you to take the initiative and design the kind of life you want to live.
E-mail your own bike story and the impact it had on your life. Include your snail mail address and I’ll send you an incentive gift showing my appreciation.

Joyce Weiss shows leaders easy ways to boost the bottom line. Be Direct with Respect is a fresh approach to increase morale. She is the author of Full Speed Ahead: Become Driven by Change and Take the Ride of Your Life! Shift Gears for More Balance, Growth, and Joy Joyce has been quoted in USA TODAY, INC, Chicago Tribune, Selling Power, and other national magazines. Joyce can be reached at 1-800-713-1926, Joyce@Joyceweiss.com or www.Joyceweiss.com. Visit www.tipstobehappy.com for free weekly reports on easy ways to add humor and balance at work and home.
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Live the Life You Deserve by Joyce Weiss
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