We are taught that as soon as something starts going right in your life something else will inevitably start to fall apart. While there will always be a price to pay with every decision we make, it is possible to gain insight into this in advance to avoid wasting time on working towards goals that are not in alignment with your true self or ones you will regret further along the road.
Philanthropist and software engineer, Rosa L. Antonini, is keen to rewire the way people think to enable them to build successful lives on their own terms. Her debut book, The Zero-Sum Game of You, empowers people who are struggling to find purpose in their lives or feeling stuck to follow a practical approach to a life of self-fulfillment and achieving their goals.
The concept of a zero-sum game is derived from game theory whereby one player’s winnings are equal to another player’s losses so the net change of the transaction amounts to zero. However, Antonini questions whether a different type of zero-sum game is possible, one where you can always win without taking away from someone else or by taking the other zero-sum game players out of the equation altogether.
Seeing Challenges as Opportunities for Growth
Antonini understands how easy it is to feel overwhelmed by life, from pressures at work to family responsibilities and all the other elements that make up modern-day life yet she sees challenges as opportunities for growth.
She says, “Struggles are essential for growth but don’t look for unnecessary burdens as a way of living. The struggles are not to indulge in; they are not the price. Instead, pursue your happiness and self-fulfillment. Whatever that means to you.”
This does not mean that you will not encounter challenges along the way but rather you will be able to better navigate them understanding that they do not last forever and are put there to help us grow and teach us lessons.
Defining the ‘Why’ is Essential
We all set goals whether it is for a new promotion or to create a successful business yet many do not come to fruition simply because we lose sight of the ‘why.’ It is easy to get side-tracked or influenced by what other people are doing or opinions of others. Yet success means different things to different people.
“Pursue what you want even when no one understands it. It’s ok. It’s not for them to decide,” says Antonini.
By defining ‘why’ you are tying in the reason you want to achieve a certain goal and the value it holds for you. What does success look like on your terms? Many goals take consistent effort with a step-by-step approach and time to be achieved but by asking why you can also start the conversation about how far you are willing to go.
Embracing Your Uniqueness
We are often taught from a young age to try to fit in, whether at school, in our family or in the community, yet we are all unique individuals with our own passions, strengths and beliefs. It is true that a sense of belonging can be beneficial but Antonini warns us not to try to fit in if it does not feel right.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to people, and therefore, learning and understanding about yourself is pivotal to defining what happiness and self-fulfillment means to you. The journey to self-development is not necessarily a destination but rather an ongoing path of discovery, learning and continuously adding value to what you do.
Learning When to Let Go
It is true that we cannot change the past, only our perception of it. Yet sometimes people will continue to live in the past or to get stuck there. They tell the same story to try to bring about a different outcome but this will not lead to success or happiness.
Struggling to let go not only robs us of our inner peace but also takes away the time we have today in the present to build the life we really want.
Antonini says, “Holding on to the past can become a black hole in our soul. It keeps sucking in the new present and sabotaging the future until we let it go.”
We do not always find the meaning behind something or get the closure we desire but letting go frees us from the past so we can focus on the present.
A Focus on Helping Others
Although much work often needs to happen within ourselves to bring about change, it is also important to look at where we can add value to the lives of others. Offering our time and service to others can help create a sense of purpose and direction, knowing that what we are doing is making a difference in other people’s lives.
As someone who had many financial struggles growing up, Antonini knows that sometimes people just need a little help to change their lives. She currently runs three training programs in Uganda, and is in the process of setting up training programs in the Dominican Republic. The programs aim to create training and education programs for young adults to enable them to obtain jobs with better job prospects and to help break the cycle of poverty while building a mindset driven towards building their own success.
The road to a life of more happiness and self-fulfillment is not always going to be straight forward but as Antonini suggests it is certainly attainable. By learning what success means on our own terms we can start to set the course for achieving it with a step-by-step approach.
Antonini says, “A building can only be as high as its foundation can support. Everyone can appreciate the Penthouse floor at the top, where everything seems easy, simple, and luxurious. The thing is, there is no way to build that penthouse without sweating it out by creating the foundation.”