3 Mindset Shifts that Helped Me Redefine The Good Life

Kathleen Byars | October 15, 2016

Changing our life mid-stream is SCARY.

And what holds us back is fear. Except we don’t know it. We are conditioned to live life according to a generalized idea of success – so much so that any alternative concepts are challenging to wrap our minds around.

We cling to the notion of a fully-funded 401k. Our think our kids will have a diminished shot at success unless they attend good schools. And if we don’t have the best health insurance a catastrophic event may be just around the corner. The list goes on and on.

I must admit that  financial security and a little bit of creature comfort is kind of nice. Right now I am “jonesing” for a new couch. Nothing wrong with that.

And conventionally, the only way we know how to acquire health insurance, college funds, and retirement assets is to get a good job, work hard, and save our money.

And the LAST THING any of us want to do once we have acquired this security is to simply LET GO for some frivolous notion of living a life of our dreams.

Dreams can wait. Right now it’s time be responsible and do the “right” thing.

That’s what I thought anyway.

Now keep in mind, I was a trailblazing executive. A highly successful marketer. I was smart, successful, capable, strong. I had a reputation for creating success and mitigating failure. Why the hell couldn’t I create the life I wanted?

I also felt immensely guilty for not appreciating what I had.


What if you can’t make it on your own? What if the new job is worse than the old one? What if you lose your house? What if you have to move? What if your children can’t go to a good school? What if you have to live off of your retirement fund?

The list is endless.

So we stay put and dream about all the amazing things we hope to do someday down the road.

And we are more than slightly irked by the latest news story of the kid who went from nothing to a zillion dollar lifestyle with his internet business.

I must admit those stories made me jealous.

Until I decided to stop reading those stories and create my own success story. I mean, there is only so much lamenting a trailblazing girl can take until it’s time to get a move on, right?

As you may know, it took me TEN YEARS to get a clue. If you count the time I left the corporate life to the time I started living a life that I had always dreamed of it was EXACTLY ten years. I read countless books, did stupid stuff that made me absolutely no money, gave up precious time with my children, and then I FINALLY stopped getting in my own way and built a life that was just right for me.

Here is what I learned that made all the difference:


Learning to take risks was probably the hardest one for me. Whether we realize it or not, most of our lives are pre-planned. If you’ve followed the basic “grow up, go to school, go to college, get a good job, be a high performer, make good money, get promoted” then you’ve pretty much done what most of us expect to do. Sure there are some twists and turns along the way, but nothing out of the realm of normal. As long as we are following this path we feel safe.

Yet, creating a life on your own terms is not like that at all. There isn’t a generally accepted model to follow. The rest of the world isn’t cheering you on. You’ve got to trust yourself and grab opportunity when it knocks at your door.

That’s scary as hell.

Here is just one example. In 2013 my husband and I decided to create passive income through real estate. We had only bought two homes our entire lives and had a lot to learn. I did some homework and hired a local realtor.

One night I was searching Zillow and noticed a $15k price drop on a home. It was 4am and I emailed my realtor that I wanted to go look at it. At 6am I emailed again. At 9am I met the realtor at the house. There were water stains on the ceiling, a hole in the chimney, cracked tile and broken sub-flooring. Plus mold. Lots of mold. I saw that mess and had no idea how to repair it. And only a rough idea of what it would cost. To make the situation even more stressful, my husband was out of town.

I called Scott and told him I wanted to make an offer. He agreed. By 10:30am our offer was submitted and by 5pm our offer was accepted.

I had just made a $73,000 investment decision in a matter of hours.

And here’s the kicker. The bank refused to finance a loan. So I refused to give up.


Which is exactly what I did. I cracked open my precious 401k and paid cash for that house. I paid a $15k penalty to the IRS and put another $12k into repairs. That was three and a half years ago. Today, the home, the penalty and the repairs have been totally recouped. We’ve earned over $58k in revenue-to-date and $80k in market value.

If I had waited to make that offer, the home would have been gone. There was a line of investors waiting right behind me.

Over and over again life presents us with opportunities. We tell ourselves maybe later. We keep shopping for a better deal. We pencil ourselves a note to do some research and make a more educated decision down the road. That’s conventional thinking and it holds us back.

The truth is we’re all scared. So we quickly rationalize our fears with these practical excuses.

I was a hamster spinning on a treadmill until I learned how to embrace risk and break out of this mindset.


I could, and should, write an entire article on this topic. For now, let me just say that creating a life on your own terms is not possible if you cling to the notion that opportunities are scarce.

It took me a looooooooong time to understand this (I cannot possibly add enough “o’s” to justify just how hard this was for me). In order to have the lifestyle I wanted, I thought I had to work for someone else.

And I didn’t realize that I could create multiple income streams without an exponential increase in workload.

Most of all, I didn’t believe I could create scalable business models that supported my passions.

I shied away from what was possible because I had a scarcity mentality. I was raised to save money, not spend it. I believed money had to be kept for a rainy day. And I thought if I lost money, I could never regain it.

I was wrong.


Contrary to conventional thinking, life doesn’t have to revolve around your paycheck. When you create a life built on passion and purpose, you learn how to create income around that lifestyle.


If you’re a successful businessperson, you didn’t get there by following the pack. Yet, when it comes to stepping away from the status quo, we are easily spooked by the world around us.

Parents, friends, and colleagues tell us that we should feel lucky for what we’ve got. They tell us we’re nuts for walking away from a good life. Even if no one tells us this directly, we still believe it because we have been raised in a society that places hard work, big titles, nice houses, and those capable of that type of success on a pedestal. Why would you ever jump off that pedestal?

While I have these naysayers in my own life, I am careful how much influence they have on my mood. I am quick to throw up boundaries when the conversation gets judgmental. I also surround myself with a healthy tribe of like-minded trailblazers who totally get what I do.


If you take away ONE THING from this article, I hope it’s this:

Embracing change doesn’t mean sacrificing a hard-earned life. It’s when you learn to let go and stop thinking conventionally that you actually begin to flourish and realize your dreams.

Although I was a trailblazer in many ways, I had to learn how to relinquish my false sense of control.

As a result, I now have a life that I love. Where family, friends, and business are all intertwined and none take more precedent than the other. Some days I work a lot. Some days I play a lot. It’s hard to tell because I enjoy what I do so much that the lines between work and play are mightily blurred.

If you find yourself stuck, I hope you try resetting your thinking and see if your mindset may be standing in the way.

I believe we all have a bit of trailblazer inside us, don’t you? It’s my passion to help others create change. I’ve always found that disrupting the status quo leads to an amazing life where nothing is impossible.

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