If you have read any of my previous work on Medium, you know my life is, at best, a shit-show. That is a polite way of saying it. It almost seems as though I spend my days on a rollercoaster, but instead of putting my hands over my head when I go into the valleys, screaming in delight, I grip the railing white-knuckled and scream in horror as I descend into the darkness.

A little overdramatic, but you get the idea.

This past week has shown how easy it is for me to fall into the muck. I spent much of the end of the week in bed with a pillow over my head, trying to rid my brain of the demons inside. When I started the week, I was on top of the world. I had been writing at night, publishing like a pro, and working on my blogs. I was father and husband of the year material, and I smiled in fulfillment more than anything else.

But before I knew it, I was screaming down the track into a rabbit hole.

Whether I am bright-eyed and focused, or psychotic and depressed, the funniest thing about me is I am optimistic. I am always thinking of the big picture.

Monday, when I was on top of the world, I was saying to myself, “The good times will last forever!” But, even though by Wednesday I felt like I was in hell, I calmed myself by repeating, “This episode won’t last forever; I’ll be back on top soon.”

Why do I always choose to see the bright side when my life seems to be in flames around me? Is it because I also see the big picture, or is there something else? How is my approach to dealing with my illness helpful for the rest of my life, career, and relationships?

How do you take optimism and big thinking and come out at the end of your journey a success?

when life gives you lemons

My friend G Correia and I work on several projects together, one being the Medium publication, Freethinkr. Many of our discussions revolve around the publication’s future, and I always approach our success by visualizing the pie-in-the-sky. I see a future of tens of thousands of subscribers and writers, with newsletters and merchandise. But he is much more reserved. Not pessimistic; realistic. We are very different people, but it has always worked for us since back in the agency days in the early 2000s.

To stay motivated despite the rollercoaster, I need to see the top of the mountain, whereas my friend, Mr. Correia doesn’t waste his time in the “could-potentially-be,” instead, setting his sights on crushing the next goal.

I am always jumping to the next huge thing, spending my days in ideas and big thinking. I like to think I can see the whole picture, and my partner is the same way, but thankfully he is more grounded and can see the forest and the trees.

Every day I have to tame my ideas and wrangle them down into action because while being a big thinker is excellent, if you can’t act on the ideas that come out of your head, you aren’t likely to be a success in life.

Think of some big thinkers from recent years in politics, science, and business: Barak and Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jane Goodall, Albert Einstein, and Stephen Hawking. They are famous because they could see the mountain tops, and they could do what it took to see their ideas to fruition.

Big thinking + optimism + action = success.

And while I have the equation memorized, I am still learning how to take action and realize my ambitions.

How do we take big ideas and optimism and turn them into success and achievement?

how to be a success — working the equation

I have been successful at battling my mental illness because I am optimistic and a big picture thinker. You can use these same principles to apply it to anything in your life, be it finances, career, or life goals.

1Think big about all areas of your life. Apply the equation to everything, from your relationship with your partner to your business or brand. In everything you do, do it big. Be a dreamer. But don’t forget always to take action on your ideas.

2Step outside yourself and think like a child. Children know wonder and have no preconceived notions of what works and what doesn’t. To them, everything is possible. So whether you are a writer or an entrepreneur, or both, have a childlike innocence in everything you do.

3Remove barriers to your success, like sensitivity to criticism from peers, or your bad habits, like procrastination. Removing hurdles means you don’t have to make gigantic leaps to make progress continually. You can move forward steadily and with purpose and get to the final goal without losing yourself in the process.

4Be positive yet realistic. Toxic positivity will get you nowhere. Affirmations are great when you are sitting on the toilet, but the real work starts when you push towards being positive without being fake or unnatural. The people who say, “Smile! It will get better!” never stick around to offer ideas on making it that way, so balance the positivity concept with an ability to sniff out and get rid of the bullshit that never helps the situation.

5Stop looking for a magic bullet. Reading more self-help articles isn’t likely to help if you haven’t implemented the ideas you have already read. Stop looking and start doing! More is not always better. Sometimes you have to be satisfied with the information you have and move forward.

6Get out there and make the magic happen. Take action. There is no secret formula for taking action. All you must do is get out there and do it. If you are a writer, write. If you own an eCommerce store, sell by any means necessary. If you are an artist, do art. Put the pen to the page and get it done. There is no other way.

Being a big thinker is excellent for figuring out ways around obstacles and seeing the whole picture before taking action. Optimism helps in keeping you on track and goal-focused. But eventually, you have to take action.

Sitting around, coming up with new ideas will never lead you to success. Trust me; I’ve been doing it my whole life. The idea is to start making the ideas happen. Start doing something. Anything.

Being a big picture thinker is terrific, but don’t forget that someone has to paint that picture before it can be real.

Also be the painter, not just the idea-person.