“It is better to allow our lives to speak for us than our words"

-Mahatma Gandhi

There is a story about a journalist who pursued Mahatma Gandhi through a train station, hoping to advance his career by getting an interview for his newspaper. Despite his persistence, Gandhi politely but repeatedly declined to respond to the man's questions.

 
Finally, as the train was pulling out of the station, the reporter called out "Please – give me your message for the people!"

 
Without hesitation, Gandhi shouted back "My life is my message!"

 
When I first heard that story, I was struck by a persistent question of my own:

 


If my life was my message, what would the message be?


 
I tried on a bunch of noble sounding ideas, ranging from ‘help yourself by helping others’ to ‘joy is the pathway to success', but nothing seemed to quite fit.

 
Finally, I decided to get real and look not at what I would have liked the message to be but what it really was. After some uncomfortable soul-searching, the answer became clear. The message my life at the time was giving out was this:


“Set big goals and then half-ass your way towards achieving them

and blame everybody but yourself so you don’t have to feel bad when you fail.”

 
I realized then that it’s not enough to follow the Quaker admonition to 'let your life speak' – you also need to put some real thought into what it is you’d like your life to say!

 
Here's a few practical ways to make your life more meaning-full:

 
1. If you haven't already done so, ask yourself the Gandhi question:


“If your life was your message, what would the message be?”

Remember, this is not ‘what would you like the message to be?’ – that comes later. Begin first by taking a long look in the mirror. Even if you don’t like what you see (and it’s fine if you do), there's no better place to start than right where you are sitting now.

 
Examples:

 

"Do unto others as much as you can get away with."

"It's never too late to blame someone else for your life."

"Make resolutions and never follow through on them, then hate yourself for it."

 

Bonus Tip:

 
If you can, resist the impulse to reject the 'real' message in favor of a more positive one. The more you are willing to take ownership of the message, the easier it will be to make changes in your life.

 
2. Now, what would you like the message of your life to be? What message would you like people to take away from experiencing your presence and being a part of your time here on earth?


 
Examples:

 

"Always do your best, and your best will always get better."

"All dreams appear impossible until someone makes them happen." (One of my favorite quotes from Barry Neil Kaufman)

"The question is irrelevant – love is the answer."


 
3. Next, brainstorm any changes you would need to make to bring your life in alignment with this new message.


 
Example:

 
Life Message:

 
"Always do your best, and your best will always get better."

 
Changes to Make:

 
*Seek to do my best, even when part of me wants to just 'get away with it'

 
*Focus on continual improvement, particularly in my relationships

 
*Choose to participate fully in everything I do


 
4. Finally, ground your new life message by choosing one concrete action you can take in the next 24 hours.

 
Example:

 
Life Message:

 
"The question is irrelevant – love is the answer.”

 
Changes to Make:

 

*Focus on my heart more than my head

 
*Don't spend so much time trying to 'figure everything out'

 
*When in doubt, love it!


 
Grounding Action:

 

*While I'm sitting in traffic on the way home from work today, I will silently send loving energy to every car and driver I can see on the freeway.

 
Have fun, learn heaps, and make your life your message!

 

Michael Neill is the author of The 7 Myths of Success audio program and a globally sought after life coach and speaker, with a client list ranging from prominent members of the entertainment industry to the Saudi Royal Family. He writes a weekly coaching column available on the internet at www.geniuscatalyst.com, currently read in over 80 countries around the world.