Finding Sustained Happiness and Success
Have you ever met a person who is rich, maybe even famous, and not happy?
Have you ever met a person who is chill, seemingly happy, and not able to really achieve success in their chosen field?
Can we be both productive, successful, and happy?
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”
Let's talk about the ROOT, the complete solution for a happy and successful life.
Some well-meaning, high-performance experts bring part of the solution, while few bring the whole and sustainable model for excellence.
1. Dream Big with a Clear Purpose
Robert Fritz, the author of The Path of Least Resistance, authored, “If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise.”
Deepak Chopra, the author of The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success says, “You must find a place in yourself where nothing is impossible.”
Additional authors such as Jack Canfield, who wrote Success Principles, and Tony Robbins author of, Awaken the Giant Within, all preach about dreaming big and setting lofty goals for life.
What happens on the days, weeks, months, and years when you are not making progress towards your big goals and aspirations?
Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them. Don't be a part of that statistic.
Are the big dreams and big goals a false paradigm? Do big goals only set you up for discouragement? Is there more to the formula? How do you really know what goals to set? How do you find the clarity and motivation to accomplish your goals?
It Starts by Defining your Purpose
Victor Frankl, the author of Man's Search for Meaning, said, “Everyone has his (or her) own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated; thus, everyone's task is unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”
What is your unique calling? What are your specific strengths? What are your areas of passion and interest? If you can thoughtfully answer these questions, you can unlock your genius; you can unlock your energy. The answers to these questions may not tell you the specific job you should have, but it will give you insights on what career path to follow.
Have you ever been around somebody that works with a sense of purpose? How confident are they? How passionate are they? When you are clear on your purpose, you are clear on what to say yes to and what to say no to, in essence you are clear on your priorities.
Stephen R. Covey, the author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote, “Creating a mission statement is not something you do overnight. It takes deep introspection, careful analysis, thoughtful expression, and often many rewrites to produce its final form. It may take you several weeks or even months before you feel really comfortable with your mission statement, before you feel it is complete and a concise expression of your innermost values and directions. Even then, you will want to review it regularly and make minor changes as the years bring additional insights or changing circumstances.”
This link will give you a step-by-step guide on how to develop your own purpose and start driving clarity and energy into your life. Learn more about the importance of defining your purpose. Listen to this podcast episode on how I defined my mission.
Measurement and Accountability System
“When performance is measured performance improves. When performance is measured and reported performance accelerates.”Thomas S. Monson
When we set big goals for our life it is also important to have accountability and measurement systems to help us accomplish them. Set up a spreadsheet or buy an app that will help you set and track your goals. As you share those goals, and their progress with friends and trusted advisors, you will find increased motivation and desire to accomplish your goals, and you will develop new actions and behaviors to accomplish those goals. Learn how to set up your whole life goal setting systems.
2. Small Steps Planning System
Dr. Robert Maurer Ph.D., a recent guest on my podcast, (find the episode here), wrote a book called, One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way. This book shows research on how your brain reacts very positively to small steps towards a goal rather than bigger steps. He writes, “All changes, even positive ones are scary. Attempts to reach goals through radical or revolutionary means often fail because they heighten fear. But the small steps of Kaizen disarm the brain's fear response, stimulating rational thought and creative play.”
Dr. Maurer was struggling to help interns and patients in his training medical practice at a large hospital. By good fortune, he read an article on Edward Deming and what the Japanese did with Deming's philosophy on continuous improvement and Kaizen. Kaizen is a Japanese business philosophy of continuous improvement for personal and corporate efficiency. Dr. Maurer's breakthrough happened when he had a stressed out patient in his office again with no change to her personal health practices. She was supposed to start exercising and losing weight to improve her heart conditions and general health. Check-up after check-up the patient wasn't changing her behaviors that would lead to better health. Dr. Maurer on the next visit asked her if she watched TV at night to relax after the kids went to bed. She did. Dr. Maurer then asked her if she should walk in place during the commercials of her favorite show each night. She said she would, and she did. On the next visit the patient reported success, then Dr. Maurer asked her if she could do a little more and she said she could. In a few months she was running and lost, and kept off 20 lbs. and vastly improved her health. With small steps, she developed new habits that changed her life.
In my blog post from June 1st of 2019, By small and simple HABITS, great things come to pass, I wrote, “For every long-term goal, there's a daily habit you can develop to take action today towards that goal. Of course, consistency and discipline are key to success. Try starting every day with your most important routines. Wake up before everybody else does so you can start your day with your small habits that will eventually lead you to excellence in your chosen goals.”
We know that breaking down big goals into bite-size chunks works and is a key step in a successful practice of personal excellence.
But what about when you are still not hitting all your goals? Or even worse, what happens when you are hitting your financial and career goals and aren't happy?
What happens when your kids need things that are not in your daily plan?
Can you be happy, content, flexible and productive?
3. Renewal Activities for Acceptance and Sustained Commitment
Not all goals will be accomplished right away. We need practices in our life that help us deal with the day to day setbacks of missed expectations, tragedy and stress. We need to build capacity to deal with the successes and the failures. Renewal activities give you the mental and emotional strength to accept where you are at and keep learning and working towards your goals.
There are many good renewal practices. I recommend four regular practices:
- Prayer and Study.
- Daily Gratitude.
Read my blog containing a complete review of the research on the benefits of sustainable renewal practices.
Get to Excellence, Then Sustain Excellence
I would argue that these teachings when applied interdependently bring the complete picture of true success. It is possible to be productive, successful, happy and content. As we install these three principles (little by little) we will experience success and happiness!
- Dream Big and Have Purpose
- Have a purpose statement.
- Set a balanced set of goals in all areas of your life.
- Set up a measurement and accountability system.
- Small Steps Planning System
- Identify the small steps that must be accomplished this week to advance your goals.
- Complete your weekly plan.
- Plan daily.
- Sustainable Renewal Activities
- Complete a daily gratitude journal for what you were able to accomplish.
- Pray and ponder over inspired literature
These are the three principles of sustainable personal excellence.
Get started now: Self-evaluation questions
- What has stopped you from applying the ideas of sustainable personal excellence (SPE) in the past?
- What tools/ideas mentioned in this article has or will help you overcome your roadblocks with SPE?
- What small steps could you do to start/continue your journey towards Sustainable Personal Excellence?
- When will you start the small step?
If you need help getting started, schedule a free 30 minute assessment on how you are applying Sustainable Personal Excellence.