At some point, you have to accept that only you can make you into who you want to be.

Stop asking “what if” to your dream job, the dream house, the dream family, the dream… anything… and start asking “how?” Then do the how.

When I was younger, I didn’t know what I would be “when I grew up.”

I just knew I wanted to be happy, have a good family, and a successful career.

We all have circumstances that we’re born into or face in life, but I never let them get in my way. I would always look for a way to optimize those circumstances; often finding a way to leverage the weakness in the circumstance as an opportunity.

I just knew that I wanted to design my life, so I did.

In my early 20’s I dated off and on as everyone else does. But in the back of my mind, I always thought, “is this what I want in a partner in X years to be with me as I start a family?”

I decided to start dating different women to find out what I liked and didn’t like in relationships, so when I found the right one, it was for sure.

Now it’s been 15 years since I met my wife, and this month we celebrate our 13 year wedding anniversary.

I set a goal, figured out the ups and downs, and didn’t settle until it was right.

She’s the perfect one for me, and now we have three kids and a trouble-free marriage with well-mannered kids.

I did the same for my career. As I said, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had a strong feeling that I’d do my own thing one day, but I didn’t know what that thing was. So I took the dating approach…

I “dated” jobs and figured out what personalities within those jobs that I liked and didn’t like. With each job I leveled up, continually narrowing down what I did and didn’t like.

When the timing and risk felt right, I knew enough about what I likely could enjoy doing for a long time that could also bring financial stability, and I married it. That was the birth of SEO National in 2007.

I certainly had some excellent timing of decisions that turned out for the better. But they were precisely that, intentional decisions. I never left my life up to fate.

I have designed my life. It is exactly the perfection I hoped for. And sometimes I even find myself proud of myself.

That’s not bragging. That the way it should be. You should be proud of yourself. And if you’re not, you only have yourself to blame. You want to be happy, right?

And happiness doesn’t have to be flashy bling and all the Instagram brag-worthy stuff.  Give me memories and comfort. That’s where I’ll splurge any day. You can have the other fancy stuff.

Sure, I’ll take the big house. But because it brings me memories and comfort.  I moved a lot as a kid, sometimes more than once a year. I didn’t want that for my family.

So I broke out the recipe card from above, focused on what I did want and then made it happen. I saved for a while, did a lot of house showings, passed on a lot of good deals on houses to hold out for the one I wanted to “marry.” Eight years ago we found the one.

6 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. It was only me, my wife, and our 11-month-old at the time.  More than we needed? Definitely. But only for that moment in time.

I wanted the comfort of knowing that my new family could grow into this house. That we would never have to move because we wouldn’t outgrow it as we added more kids to the Burton name. Knowing you’re in a house that you can live comfortably for life guarantees that memories are going to happen.

This house, once larger than needed, was an investment. Not a financial investment. An investment in the legacy of my kids’ well-being and memories. And now with three kids and a dedicated home office, the house is a perfect size.

I don’t want the flashy things. Nothing wrong with it. Reward yourself. Just not my thing.  Other than the house I don’t rock fancy cars or an expensive watch. I could, but… meh.

My Infiniti is 16 years old. Just fine with me. It looks great and has been paid off for about 12 years. Why buy another one when I can invest that $400/month car payment over the last 12 years into business to grow the money more? Or to take a trip with the family every month?

memories and comfortIf I always had a car payment those years, that would be $400 x 12 months a year x 12 years = $57,600. Or a little less than the pool in the picture cost. The one that will now give my kids lifetime memories.

Like I said, memories and comfort.

Sure, you may have had circumstances that are out of your control that didn’t initially give you the best odds in life. But they’re exactly that… out… of… your… control. Find the weakness in the circumstance and use it as an opportunity.

“But Damon, it’s not that easy…”

I never said it was easy. I just said do it.

“But my situation is unique,” or “hard,” or blah, blah, blah.

Probably not as bad as my personal example that I could give you to show you the opportunity in opportunity.

Two years ago I acquired an auto-immune disease. The symptoms? Most everything I eat hurts my throat. I lost 30 lbs in 6 months.

Yeah, it sucks. Sucks big time. But it’s out of my control. So I don’t cry and whine.

There is literally nothing I can do. Instead, I found the weakness and used it as an opportunity.

Because I can only eat like a rabbit with a ballin’ budget for fruit, organics, and plain, undressed, non-seasoned meats now I have the opportunity to be healthier than ever.

Out of the two years of having the condition, it took me the first year to get diagnosed. The second year to “figure out life” now that it changed so dramatically. And going into the third year, I think I’m good. I am now in a position to start leveraging what I’ve learned about healthy eating and what my specific condition will allow me to eat, and I’m ready to rock. I’m ready to start working out again and getting back in a routine. I’m eager to look back at this post in a year and see how amazing my physique and overall health has progressed.

Is your situation worse than that? Maybe. Maybe not. Doesn’t change the fact that you can do something to better your life. Or at least start the journey to eventually better your life.

Do that thing. Your thing. Whatever that thing is.

Quit making excuses. Because other than yourself, no one cares.

A quote from my friend Immy on my podcast today, he said: “hell is when you meet the person you could have been.” I don’t know about you, but that guy doesn’t exist for me.

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