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Creating a 10 Year Plan

 

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to have it all and achieve all of their goals?  Maybe you even feel that some people are lucky and have things handed to them on a silver platter?

In my experience, I have found that if you dig a little deeper you find that they weren’t just lucky, they had a plan. They have taken specific steps along the way to ensure they achieve their goals.

However, from business executives to athletes and music stars, if you peel back their story, you usually find a vision and a plan to achieve success.

So what is your plan?  Where should you start?

While it is a bit of a standard question, you need to start with what you want.  Where do you see yourself in 10 years?  This is a great place to start.

Relax and visualize where you see your life being in 10 years.  What does that look like?  Look at it from a number of different perspectives.  Take your time and don’t rush yourself – really think about all of the options and opportunities…

  • where will you be working (if at all)
  • what will your family life be… spending time with kids, wife, others
  • what other interests will you be involved with – charity, community, mentorship, hobbies
  • what will your health be like

Now step back and begin looking at what it will take for your to achieve your “visualized” you in 10 years.  Separate each of the items you have in your list and begin to consider the milestones that will allow you to achieve the goal.  For instance, if you see yourself running your own company in 10 years, what do you need to start now that will allow you to succeed?  Start with understanding the expectations of the role and how you gain knowledge and experience supporting the position.

If you look at it from each of the different perspectives, you will end up with a number of paths to achieve each of your separate goals.

Write the goals down – physically write them down.  Having your goals written is important to your ability to have visibility to the goal and allow you to track them as well.  However, physically writing them down causes a deeper commitment and connection.  (The act of writing it down activates commitment centers in your brain. They help you work toward your goals even when you are not thinking about them.)

With those plans in place, begin tracking your progress.  It’s not going to help if you simply put your goals down on a piece of paper and file them in a drawer.  If you do that, in 10 years you will be cleaning out your drawers, find this list and wonder why you never achieved your targets.

In addition to holding yourself accountable to doing the things you have committed to in order to achieve your plan, have someone else help as your accountability partner.  This should be someone that you trust and will be honest with you as you work through your plan.  Your accountability partner should be strong enough to keep you on track if you begin to slip in taking actions.  While this doesn’t have to be your significant other, I would recommend that you include your significant other in the planning process because you want to make sure that you have compatible plans.  They don’t have to be identical, for instance, my wife isn’t interested in running marathons, but they should be supportive and not conflict.

Lastly, know that goals can change and evolve.  Don’t delay your goal process waiting for perfection – start today with the process to ensure a level of progress.

Start taking a level of control of your life.  Build a goal of where you see yourself in 10 years and begin taking active steps to achieving your goals… Good luck.

 

Wear a Positive Label

While we may not know it, we all go through life wearing labels.  Labels are the words that we and others use to describe ourselves.  These labels can categorize us and reflect in our mood and what we believe about ourselves.  Labels that can eventually end up controlling our destiny.  What label are you wearing?  Does it tell the true story about you, who you want to be and what you want to achieve?  If not, change your label.

We need to wear positive labels.  It’s human nature to focus and dwell on things from a negative perspective.  As we have talked about before, happiness is a choice and at times a very difficult choice.  There are negative influences that we experience on a daily basis that can easily drive us down the negative path.

Like being happy, the label we wear, how we feel about ourselves and how we project ourselves is our choice.  Many times it is a label that we have heard others say about us (parents, friends, teachers, and bosses) and we believe them.  Often these are negative labels and the more we believe them the more they become who we are.  As the saying goes, “you are what you think”.

Studies have shown that the labels truly impact our performance.  Labels not only impact the perception we have of ourselves, but how others perceive us as well – which in turn directly impacts us.  In a study of elementary school children, teachers labeled kids who accelerated as “average”.  The labels were communicated to other teachers and faculty in the school.  The kids began seeing themselves differently. Teachers began to expect less of them and in turn treated them differently because of their label.  As this label became more known, those children began to perform at more “average” levels.  The same was true for “under performers” who were labeled as “exceptional” and began to excel and perform as leaders of the class.

We can’t prevent others from putting labels on us, but we can choose to ignore those labels.  Each day we have the choice to wake up and put our own label on – a label that projects who we really are and who we want others to see.  Make an effort to give yourself a positive label(s) that focus on your strengths and not on weaknesses.  Again, this can be difficult and go against human nature.  We need to reprogram levels of negative thinking and focus on positive.  Believe in the label that you put on yourself – what do you want to achieve?  Positive labels can help you open doors to being more happy and successful.

Since we know that the labels that we put on others can have an impact, when you have a chance, encourage others by putting positive labels on them – your children, co-workers, friends, team mates.  It is amazing to see how your little added effort will help them become more positive and see themselves in a different light.  Additionally, others will begin to see and treat them differently.

There are a number of examples that show successful people who were labeled negatively and went on to be very successful (Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, Lucille Ball and Shaquille O’Neil).  The common denominator amongst these success stories was their ability to shrug off the labels that others had put on them and focus on creating their own labels.

What label are you wearing?  Is it a positive reflection of who you are and what you want to achieve?

Believe Lighthouse

Believe to Achieve

(photo courtesy of Colleen Kilpatrick)

It has been proven that if you don’t believe you will not succeed.  How can you achieve something if you don’t believe you can?

Our beliefs are what we decide we want to think is true – based on our own personal experiences and information we have learned through our lives.  It is the only common factor in determining your ability to achieve something.  If you don’t believe you are capable of achieving, then, you will not achieve.  However, if you believe in yourself, you will likely endure in finding a way to succeed.  “Unbelief” manifests itself in the same way – if you have a thought, but believe it will not occur, then forces will drive your thoughts and emotions to be true – it will not occur.

Your power is very forceful and real.

“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” –  Henry Ford

While Shawn Achor was specifically talking about happiness in his book, The Happiness Advantage, he explains that the brain scans for positive or negative meanings from the input it receives.  Problems arise when you program your brain to scan for the negative (disbelief) before positive (belief).  By scanning for the negative first, we ultimately shut down opportunities to succeed because we are masking our ability to see positively.  We need to program our brains to look for the positives first and believe.

While there is relevance in the “law of attraction” (think about something and you will attract like things), I am not saying that by simply thinking of things, they will automatically appear.  That is more “wishing” than believing.  Believing is having the confidence that you will be able to do what’s necessary to achieve your goal.  You will put the steps in place to be successful.  Begin believing in yourself and see the power it unleashes.  Doors will open because you are “looking” for them to open.  If you are negative with a closed mind, you may not recognize the opportunities in front of you.

Here are a few examples of what you can do to see things more positively:

  • Positive is a choice – being positive is a choice and you can control how you approach your thoughts.  You know when you are thinking negatively.  If you recognize your thoughts as negative, simply shift them to being more positive.
  • Positive Affirmations – repeat positive statements of your desired outcomes.  This repetition will build positive momentum in your subconscious thinking and open your mind up to success and positive thinking.
  • Visualization – like affirmations, visualizing yourself being successful will cause you to be more positive.  Visualize yourself succeeding – experience every moment and all of the senses.  The more realistic your visualization, the more powerful it will be.
  • Eliminate negative influences.  External factors have a significant impact on our thoughts.  You need to recognize the negative influences in your life and replace them with positive.  Generally these negative influences are people at work, friends and even family.  While not always easy, you need to minimize interaction with these toxic influences and replace them with supportive and positive influences.
  • Share Positivity – the true impact of becoming positive is your ability to share being positive with others.  Like many things in life, being positive is contagious – make an effort to smile at someone else, share a compliment, reinforce that someone has done a great job.  Bottom line, Be Good to People.

The outcomes of our activities will greatly depend on how we look them.  Take time to understand your thoughts and guide them toward the positive.

 

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Happiness, Exercise, Stress Reduction, Happier, Success, Energy, Productivity

Happiness Hack #5 Make Time To Exercise

Make Time to Exercise and You will be Healthier, Happier, and More Productive.

Our time is constrained and we don’t have time to get everything done as it is. But we should schedule time to exercise on a regular basis. Research by Russell Clayton and colleagues, which is due out in the next issue Human Resource Management, concludes there is a positive relationship between exercise and work life balance. Based on Clayton’s research, people who take the time to exercise feel more self-efficacy. In other words they are confident they can get things done. Completing a regular exercise routine, gives them proof that they are capable of handling bigger challenges, including getting major projects at work done and making time for a happy home life.

Exercise also makes you happier. It gives you more energy. It also provides a mental and emotional break from your daily stress. It gives you time to think and process information. Research has shown that exercise was more effective than Zoloft, an anti-depressant medication, in reducing the symptoms of depression. Exercise improves your brain’s ability to process information. Overall exercise helps you think more clearly, feel more confident, and be more energetic, all of which help you be better at your job.

So take some time out of your busy schedule to exercise. You will be able to get more done instead of less, and you will be happier and more successful.

Happiness Hack #4 – Practice Autonomy

Happiness Hack #6 – Find Flow

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Success: How to Stop Speeding and Get There Faster

Have you ever been driving to some important event, running a little late, and then you get lost?  You think you know where to go, but you are not quite sure, so you go faster and faster, trying to get there on time, but still getting more lost?   You think you are heading in the right direction, but not quite sure, so you go even faster.  You could stop to check the map on your phone, but you are so close, you know your destination is probably just around the corner.  So you speed up a little more.

This is what we do in our lives.  We think we are on the right course, but something doesn’t feel right so we just keep speeding up.  We keep getting busier and taking on more commitments because success and happiness are just around the next turn.  One more big project, one more raise, one more promotion, and we will arrive at happiness and success.  We think we are on the right path, but partially formed thoughts in the back of our heads keep nagging at us.  Unfortunately, we are too close to stop and re-evaluate.  We are too busy to take a few minutes and examine what we are doing or to admit we might have taken a wrong turn somewhere.  We might have something in our plans that is moving us farther from happiness and success rather than closer, but we are going too fast to stop and find out.

Is it time to stop and check the map?

  1. Stop and take 15 minutes to write down your definition of success.  What is success for you?  How will you know when get there?  What are the markers in your life that tell you when you have arrived?  Do they include your family, your health, and your relationships? Does your definition of success include being happier? Is there more in your definition of success than just your career or the amount of money you will accumulate?
  2. Now write the top 3 milestones you have to work toward each day to reach that definition of success.  What are the 3 things in your life, that when reached, you will be confident in saying that you have met your definition of success?
  3. Check your to-do list for today. Is working on each of your 3 milestones a top priority, or are other less important but more urgent matters pushing them down or even off the list?  Slow down and focus on your definition of success and your top 3 milestones.  Get those done first and you will know you are on the right path.

 

Write your definition of success and identify the 3 milestones you need to work towards each day, and you won’t have to keep speeding up.  But you will get there faster!

 

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

How Optimism Can Help You Be Happier

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill

 Optimism is a form of Positive Thinking that is focused on the future and how the future will unfold.  It helps improve our lives and make us happier.  Optimism changes the way we look at and remember our interactions in life because we put a more positive spin on our events and activities. Numerous research studies have confirmed the benefits of optimism which include better health, longer lives, faster recovery from illness, and even healthier babies.

Tali Sherot a leading researcher and teacher of happiness lists three reasons that optimism is a key component of our happiness:

How we interpret events matters. As we go through life, remembering a majority of our interactions with an optimistic and hopeful attitude gives us the feeling we are on the right path and things will work out for us.

  1. Anticipation enhances our happiness. By thinking optimistically about the future, we get excited about what we think could and will happen. We are as happy during those times of anticipation as we are when the event actually occurs. So our happiness lasts for much longer periods of time if we are optimistic and anticipate good outcomes.
  2. Optimism makes you try harder. If you believe an event is going to turn out positively, you may be surprised or disappointed when events start taking a negative turn. Consciously or unconsciously, we redouble our efforts to get life back on the right track. As a result, we create better outcomes through efforts we put forth because we are optimistic about the better outcomes.

Optimistic thinkers experience more positive emotions because they explain events in ways that help them feel good about themselves. Pessimistic thinkers take a negative approach and explain events in ways that make them feel worse about themselves.   The good news is that pessimism can be replaced with optimism.  Pessimistic thinking can be exchanged for optimistic thinking with a little effort and practice.

Some tips for creating optimism in your life:

 

  1. Visualize Your Best Possible Self – Visualize a future for yourself in which everything has turned out the way you want it. This can be a short timeframe, like the project is successful and everyone likes it, or a long timeframe, like how your life turns out more fantastic than you could ever imagine.
  2. Find a pessimistic thought and smash it – Keep a small rock or some other touchstone in your pocket or nearby. Whenever you recognize a pessimistic thought, visualize yourself smashing it with the rock and replacing it with a more optimistic thought.
  3. Put a quarter in a cup – put a coffee cup on your dresser or desk. Every time you consciously replace a pessimistic thought with an optimistic thought, put a quarter in the cup. When the cup is full, you can use the change to buy yourself a treat. An empty cup reminds you to keep finding ways to choose optimistic thoughts.

“Perpetual Optimism is a Force Multiplier” – Gen. Colin Powell

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Happiness in the Workplace

Happy employees enhance the overall performance of an organization.  However, studies show that only 1 in 5 employees (20%) actually report being happy at work.  So that means that approximately 80% of employees are unhappy at work and therefore, negatively impacting the performance of your business.  Companies are now beginning to recognize the changes in employee attitudes and are focusing on improving the culture of their company.

First of all, let’s start with WHY you should care about the happiness of your employees.  As mentioned above, happier employees are more productive and will provide higher benefits to your business.  Lately, probably for a variety of reasons including economic environment and world tragedies, employees are feeling more stressed, less secure, and ultimately less satisfied at work.  This environment adds up to higher absenteeism, less productivity, and higher turnover in your organization.  All of these issues have a negative drag on the business.

While HAPPINESS can be defined in a variety of different ways and is comprised of many elements, Martin Seligman outlined the key elements impacting HAPPINESS… Pleasure, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment.  If you can find a formula the leverages these elements, you will generally see that your employees:

  • love their work and find it meaningful
  • consistently give all that they can
  • work collaboratively with others

Resulting in a happier employee and stronger business.

One interesting note is that HAPPINESS becomes an ongoing circle for your employees and your business.  Happier employees are more satisfied with their lives, enjoy better health, live longer and have better relationships.  Additionally, HAPPINESS is contagious.  Happy employees on your team will drive others within the organization to be happier – thus continuously driving improvements.

While it has such an impact on business performance, like most things, establishing a culture that drives employee happiness isn’t rocket science; however, it does take a bit of effort and focus on doing a few things all of the time.

Here are a few broad areas to align your focus on – Purpose, Autonomy, Mastery, and Connection.

  • Purpose – give everyone a purpose and show how they link to the bigger purpose of the organization and beyond.  When people have a purpose, they are excited and driven.
  • Autonomy – give people the freedom in achieving their goals.  This doesn’t mean that we aren’t held accountable.  There is a balance.
  • Mastery – give everyone the tools and opportunities to be successful.  Tools can be coaching, equipment, training, applications, etc.
  • Connection – people need a level of connection and collaboration with others.  It is important that a team is well connected internally and externally.

The formula is to leverage a combination of these elements because focusing on just one will not achieve the greatest results.  For instance, if you simply provide someone with a strong purpose, but don’t give them access to the tools for success or don’t allow them to achieve their objectives, overall success will suffer.

 

 

Skiing Down the Mountain of Life

We just finished a week long ski vacation with the family, and every year it is a fantastic experience.  Over the years I have noticed a few lessons that are applicable to our success as well as our life and happiness.

 

  1. Sometimes you go with the flow of the mountain and roll with the hills and turns it gives you; sometimes you cut across the mountain and define your own path; and sometimes you tuck and go as fast as you can in a race to the finish.   Our lives and careers are a balance and we are happier when we can learn to do all three. If we spend too much time going with the flow, we get bored and don’t feel challenged.  If we spend too much time battling and blazing our own trail we get worn out and beat up, and don’t have time to appreciate the other parts of our life, and if we don’t focus and head for the finish line every now and then, we spend our lives in “almost mode”, never fully reaching our dreams. Find the balance that is right for you.  Pay attention to when one method isn’t working and you should switch to another.
  2. The battle is between you and the mountain; don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.  Some people will be slower than you and some will be faster.   Older people will struggle to get down the mountain, while small children will whiz by in a flash of confidence and skill.  If you are thinking about how or what they are doing, you can’t focus on how you can get better and make it down the mountain in the best way for you.    If you compare yourself to others and come up short, you risk losing the confidence and momentum needed to be your best.   If you compare yourself to others and come up looking better, you can become complacent and not reach your full potential.  Your success and happiness depend on your ability to focus on being the best you can be, rather than being distracted by what everyone else can be.
  3. When you fall down don’t lay in the snow.  It just makes you colder and less motivated.  Too often we get knocked down by the challenges in life and find it easier to just lay there instead of jumping up and risking another failure.  The longer we lay there the harder it is to get up and get going again.  Don’t get stuck on the mountain wishing you hadn’t failed. Get up out of the snow as fast as you can, fix your skis, adjust your goggles and head back down the mountain. Chase your goals until you reach them, no matter how many times you fall.
  4. Take lessons.  Don’t believe you can teach yourself or that you are the only person in the world who is dedicated to helping you get better.  We all need help and perspectives from different people. We need encouragement and brutal honesty.  Surround yourself with teachers, learn from everyone you can.  Keep pushing to become better. Help others by letting them help you.

 

Lastly and most importantly, skiing is not just about getting down the mountain; it is about enjoying the trip.  Focus on the goal, but have fun along the way. Then when you get to the bottom, you will be excited to ride back up the lift and start again.

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Get into the Flow

Flow is a state where you lose track of time and your surroundings. You are so caught up in what you are doing, your brain doesn’t process unrelated outside information.

 

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times…the best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

 

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the leading expert on flow, found that people who became really absorbed in what they were doing had higher levels of happiness. The more they got into flow, the happier they were.

Athletes call it being in “the zone”. That place where time stands still and you understand exactly what you need to do and how you need to do it. In your work, there are probably several tasks you seem uniquely suited to. Activities where you have been doing them long enough that you can focus and knock them out, but that always require you be at your top performance. You set aside time and start working. At some point, you are interrupted by a colleague about going to lunch. You look up and realize you have been focused for more than an hour and it seems like only minutes. You don’t remember anything else being in your life in the past hour but you and the task. You feel energized and happy at getting so much done. That is when you have achieved flow.

Flow is something we can control. We can work to find ways to achieve flow and as a result, we can find ways to be happier.

To find flow find adapt your tasks to include the following characteristics:

  1. Potential for Completion – you have a realistic chance of completing the task or that phase of the task.
  2. Concentration – you have or can create the silence or isolation in your environment so you can fully concentrate.
  3. Clear goals – you know exactly what you are going to accomplish and can clearly measure or see that accomplishment.
  4. Immediate Feedback – you know in the moment how you are doing and that you are accomplishing your task.
  5. Control – you feel you have a sense of control over your actions.

 

Finding Flow will help you be happier while the results of your work while you are in a state of Flow will help you be successful.

About 

My Passion is helping people become successful and happy. I have found that many people want to be successful but just don’t know how. More importantly, people want to be successful because they feel that reaching some success pinnacle will result in them becoming happy. The research and my experience has shown that just the opposite is the case. Success does not lead to happiness. Happiness leads to success.

Using Twitter to Measure Happiness

The Huffington post just published an article about measuring happiness via tweets.  The University of Vermont looked at positive words used by geography and mapped the results.  Their infographic is below.

You can read the whole article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/02/happiest-states-_n_3696160.html?ir=Business&ref=topbar

When I look at the data from the Vermont study and compared it with data from other national studies, there seems to be a pattern.  Is there a correlation with areas where the pace of business is a little slower?  Is it possible that lower expectations for achievement and less visible examples of what you don’t have, accompanied with having enough to live a reasonable life create the best environment for happiness?

In other words, could you be happier if you had enough to meet your basic needs, did not feel the need to meet everyone else’s expectations, and you were not envious of or constantly exposed to others who had more than you?

 

Some other great places to find data on happiness.

Check out the University of Vermont’s Hedonometer: http://hedonometer.org/index.html

Gallup publishes a Well-Being index for the US and other countries.  http://www.well-beingindex.com/

Nic Marx helped create the Happy Planet Index which measures sustainability as well as well-being. http://www.happyplanetindex.org/

There is even a World Database of Happiness that attempts to catalogue happiness data and measurement.  http://www1.eur.nl/fsw/happiness/

The Center for Bhutan studies published their view of Gross National Happiness, one of Bhutan’s key measurement for their country’s development.  http://www.grossnationalhappiness.com/

Another source for information about World Happiness is the World Happiness Report:  http://unsdsn.org/files/2013/09/WorldHappinessReport2013_online.pdf

 

 

 

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