Ever wondered about the difference between someone who is successful and fulfilled in their life and someone who isn’t? I have. A lot.

This is a really interesting time in my life. I’m accomplishing more in a 24 hour span than ever before, and somehow, I’m surviving to tell about it. I’m working really hard, but I don’t always feel like I’m working. I have what seems like a million projects, and all of them are exciting. Yet I still get to spend time with my family and my friends and have meaningful relationships. It’s entirely possible that I’ve finally found that elusive balance in my life.

It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. I’ve had times in the past where I’ve not had this kind of balance, and it’s had devastating results, including an entire year of fairly serious illnesses, the breakdown of relationships, and one big burn-out. I’ve spent some time this week analyzing what has changed, and what is now allowing me to accomplish so much without fear of crashing and burning. What I’ve discovered is, the solution has a lot to do with my gut.

Instinct. It’s not just for breakfast anymore. We are all born with instincts. When we’re little, these instincts factor pretty strong into our lives. Our instincts show us when we’re hungry, when we’re tired, when we’re uncomfortable. Unfortunately, what happens when we get older is we start to ignore our instincts. We’re tired, but we continue to stay up late and get poor quality sleep. We’re hungry, but we eat sporadically and usually all the wrong foods. We’re uncomfortable, yet we remain in the very situation that is making us that way. Ignoring our instincts does more harm than good in the end. What do you think would change if you started listening to your instincts a little more?

Listening to that voice. No, not that one. Yah. That one. We all have two sets of voices in our heads. There’s the one that tells us “You’ll never amount to anything.”, “It’s too much work.”, “It’s too risky.”. That’s the one most of us tend to listen to. Then there’s the other voice. This is the gut. When I actually focus on listening to my gut, it tells me all sorts of interesting things.

My gut tells me when to leave a party, and when to stay. It told me to go out on that second date with the guy I ended up marrying. It tells me when to reach out to someone if I think I have something to offer. It tells me when to pick up the phone and call a friend who needs help. It tells me when to drop a client, or pick up a new one. It tells me when to dive in to starting a company with both feet, even though I don’t know where the bottom is.

The thing with your gut is that it’s often much more difficult to listen to what your gut is telling you. Because going with the gut often results in having to make a more difficult decision, or take a bigger risk. But the real thing with your gut is that if you learn to listen to it on a regular basis, it can actually help you succeed.

Learning to trust my instincts and my gut has probably been the single most important lesson I’ve learned in my 30’s (besides finally learning to play an “F” on my guitar). It’s changed every aspect of my life in a positive way.

The next time you aren’t sure of what direction you should take….I strongly suggest you just go with your gut.