I have a basic precept for my life: I deserve to be happy and will only engage with the people and projects that make me happy. If you are not yet living the life that makes you happy each day, read on to find ways of getting closer to this worthwhile and life changing goal.
I’ve been sharing ideas with the people I mentor from a book I reread every January. It’s called The 12 Week Year: Get More Done in 12 Weeks Than Others Do in 12 Months and one of the precepts is that we all we all have two lives: the one we live and the one we’re capable of living. My question for you to ponder today is this… Are you living the life that makes you happy? I’m not talking about happiness in the “sparking joy” kind of way, but not so far off from Pharrell Williams when he sings “Clap along if you know what happiness is to you.” Happiness is not as elusive a concept as it seems to be on first examination; you know down deep what makes you happy as well as what doesn’t. My challenge to you is to take a few minutes alone to think about this question. Then, reach out to me and share as much as you’d like to about what came up for you. All responses are confidential, as with anything you write to me.
Have you thought some more about what makes you happy? Long ago I mentioned to a small group of people that I believed everyone had the right to live the life that made them happy. I was in the process of leaving my teaching job and real estate work to come online and was really just thinking out loud about my own situation. The following week a lady named Dottie announced to our group that she had quit her job and was moving two hours north to a beach community. She said that she had made her decision because of what I had said. Now, I’m not suggesting you quit anything and move away, but I am recommending that you begin a conversation with yourself about what you really want from your life and how you wish to spend each day. This is powerful and may lead to a life you hadn’t before thought possible.
There is something called “The Emotional Cycle of Change” I want to share with you. It applies to any change we wish to make in our lives and I’ll relate it to entrepreneurship. The first stage is “Uninformed Optimism” and that’s when we are so excited about what’s possible we haven’t yet explored the work and investments that will be required. The next stage is “Informed Pessimism” where we now realize just what we’ll have to do and how difficult it may be. This leads us to the “Valley of Despair.” This is when most people give up. All of the pain of change is felt and the benefits seem far away or less exciting. The fastest way to end this discomfort is to go back to the way you used to do things. You rationalize that “it wasn’t so bad before.” Can you relate to any of this? Later I’ll share how you can move forward to the final two stages of “Informed Optimism” and “Success and Fulfillment.” Knowing that we can control these stages and achieve any goal we set for ourselves is of great benefit, I believe.
I’ll take this line of thought further with a discussion of what is known as the “Four Stages of Competence.” The four stages are:
This is where the individual does not understand or know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. They may deny the usefulness of the skill. The individual must recognize their own incompetence, and the value of the new skill, before moving on to the next stage. The length of time an individual spends in this stage depends on the strength of the stimulus to learn.
This occurs when we do not understand or know how to do something, they recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in addressing the deficit. The making of mistakes can be integral to the learning process at this stage.
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill or knowledge requires concentration. It may be broken down into steps, and there is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task. The individual may be able to teach it to others, depending upon how and when it was learned.
“Don’t die with your music still inside you.” is something I learned from Dr. Wayne Dyer. It’s a powerful reminder of what’s at stake here.
Instead of getting into a philosophical discussion, let’s move on to the nuts and bolts of happiness and goal achievement.
Begin With the End in Mind to Start Living the Life That Makes You Happy
Sometimes we have to start by thinking of our “big picture” dream and working backwards to where we are right now. Perhaps you dream of living in a new location, either in the city where you currently live or one you have visited in the past. It’s easy to say that this could never happen for you because of some reason you believe. Not having enough money is that type of reason. However, seldom is the lack of funds truly what stops us from moving closer to living the life that makes you happy. You could counter by saying that you don’t know if your new surroundings will make you happy because you have yet to experience it, but I would reply that if you aren’t happy where you are right now, you may not be happy anywhere on earth.
An example of my experience with this strategy in my own life came when I woke up one morning in the spring of 2005 and something was different. I was wide awake immediately and the sounds, smells, and colors seemed to be magnified, almost as though I were watching a cartoon. I sat up straight in my bed and after just a few moments hopped out to find out what was going on. It was a hyper awareness of sorts and very exciting to me on that day. As I sat at my kitchen table while my dogs played out in the yard, I came to the realization that if I were to change my life in a major way it would be completely up to me.
Now it may seem like this is common sense, but you may already know that it isn’t so common. On that Saturday morning so long ago the bright light turned on for me. I became hungry for information and books and people who could help facilitate the changes I wanted to make in my life. Within a few months I had taken on my first mentor, had connected with a couple who had left the corporate world behind and were pursuing their dreams full time, and had made the decision to sell my house and build a new home in a city about 30 miles north of where I’d been living for a couple of decades and thought would be my home forever.
I was waking up at four each morning, going for three hour hikes in the hills of the Santa Clarita Valley section of Los Angeles, and reading voraciously on a variety of topics, including the 17 Second Rule and other esoteric ideas. A visit to the Agape Spiritual Center put me on a path I did not know existed and allowed me to stretch my mind even further.
Fast forward another year and I had resigned my position as a classroom teacher at the end of the school year, as well as giving away my best real estate clients to others who could better serve them. That’s when I learned about the world of online entrepreneurship and marketing and started my business on the internet. These changes came so quickly that I did not have much time to doubt or second guess my actions; I just knew that when something felt right to me I jumped to take advantage of my good fortune. This was a return to my childlike self of earlier years and was empowering in so many ways.
Living the life that makes you happy is closer than you can imagine. Wherever you are with your thinking right now, know that a simple shift in mindset is all it will take to put you on the path to a life experience you want and deserve.
I’m bestselling author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and I would love to further connect with you. Come aboard my complimentary Action Habits Challenge and discover how you may proceed towards your goal of living the life that makes you happy at record speed.