“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”—Charles Schulz

As a general practice, I make an effort to focus on moving forward rather than dwelling on the past or what could have been. I’m more of a “what if” and “why not” kind of person. I like to push the accepted boundaries and encourage people to rethink what’s possible. In our quest to lead a better life, it’s important to continuously reflect and assess our actions to see what works, and what we need to shift so we can improve.

I’ve shared five principles to lead a better life that are helpful to implement at any stage in life to enjoy greater fulfillment, happiness, and engagement. These themes continue to come up with my clients, which is how I selected these ideas, although there are many more. The most important thing is that you consistently practice a set of rituals in your life. It’s about quality rather than quantity.


The earlier you can define what success means to you, the more fulfilled and happier you will be. I’ve always had goals, but I truly redefined what success meant to me during my career on Wall Street. I was sitting on the Corporate Bond Sales Desk when I realized that I no longer equated success purely with money, status, and title. I wanted to be engaged and fulfilled by my work and feel that I was making a difference in the world. My words may mean different things to each of you, but the important part is that your goals are aligned with your vision of success. In my work as a life/business coach, I find that many clients either have outdated goals or ideas that do not align with how they define success. Just because you wanted to start your own business five years ago does not necessarily mean you want to be your own boss today. You have to decide if being an entrepreneur is still a path that resonates with you. It’s important to note that success is dynamic and will change at different stages in your life.

What does success mean to you, and are your goals aligned with your vision?


I noticed when I became clear on my values, the principles that guide me on a daily basis such as respect, feeling connected, authenticity, honesty, flexibility, creativity, and learning, I began to gain clarity with leaps and bounds. It was much easier to make difficult decisions (e.g., leaving Wall Street and becoming a business coach, moving away from my family in NYC and moving to California, or taking on certain projects). This is a critical step because clarity helps you make decisions and move forward with greater ease in the face of challenges.

What are your top five values that guide you on a daily basis?


One of the best ways to lead an empowered life on a daily basis is to start with your most important asset—you. YOU, INC. represents all the different areas of your life, including Career, Relationships, Finances, Healthy Living, Fun & Creativity, and Personal Growth. You need to invest in, and be mindful of, each of these areas to present your best self on a daily basis. The key theme is that you are in the driver’s seat—not someone else. YOU, INC. is the most important business you will ever run because it’s your life and you need to take an active role in all the decisions. This includes making yourself a priority, whether it’s for five minutes or the whole weekend by saying gratitude, getting sleep, giving yourself time to re-fuel, reading, connecting with friends, or exercising. This means taking responsibility for your actions and not being afraid to say “NO” or “YES” in different situations. Before we can truly be a leader for others, we need to be a leader for our own life.

What does it cost you NOT to be the CEO of YOU, INC.?


This is one of my favorite principles and one that really separates the people who live in their top 1% from those that settle for the status quo. There are some people who complain about their job and how they want to start their own company but never do anything to change their situation. Then, there are other people who have a great idea such as starting a non-profit organization, opening a surf shop, or doing their first triathlon, and the next time you see them they have taken steps forward. You have to choose if you want to sit on the sidelines or participate in life. You can start turning your ideas into action by believing in yourself, spending time to set meaningful goals, being resilient when faced with a setback, and taking small steps forward.

How would your life be different if you turned at least one idea into action?


What do successful business owners, athletes, doctors, musicians, actors, and CEOs have in common? They have a team. While your team may not be as elaborate as that of a CEO of a large company or professional athlete, it’s interesting to learn from those who excel in their sport of choice. The common theme is they set themselves up to succeed.

Take a moment and consider the people in your inner circle. Do they inspire you, challenge you to move outside your comfort zone, and expand your thinking? Are they passionate about their life and excited to start their day? Do they free you up to add the most value as the CEO of your business? Do they have a positive attitude that says, “I can.”? These are the people you want on your team.

What changes need to be made to your top 1% team to put yourself in a position to excel?

TOP 1% BOTTOM LINE: Leading your best life is a process and involves continually assessing where you are and where you want to be. As our priorities and goals shift over time, your definition of success needs to be updated to make sure your path still resonates.  Learn from those around you and decide who the key players are that you want on your team. Players that will help you make progress each day.

The poet Mary Oliver asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Now is the time to answer this question.

Alissa is a Professional Life Coach, motivational speaker, and author of “Living in Your Top 1%: Nine Essential Rituals to Achieve Your Ultimate Life Goals”. She works with individuals and organizations to help them think bigger, redefine what’s possible, and get results.  Alissa has an MBA from the Wharton School and a BA from the University of California, Berkeley. To learn more and to take the Living in Your Top 1% quiz, please visit Alissa’s website or her Facebook page.