Of all the people I’ve coached and mentored, of all the human behavior that I’ve observed, of all my experiences and reflections, from all the psych and sociology I’ve studied, from all the choices I’ve made (both powerful and shitty), and from the various self-improvement courses I’ve undergone, there’s a central question that makes itself known pretty regularly to me, and it usually goes something like this:
What’s the key to personal happiness?
And if it’s addressed directly to me, it’s usually followed by
Make it quick. I have things to do. You’ve got five minutes.
So in the spirit of quick and dirty, here goes:
Step 1 – Define what you want.
Step 2 – Do it.
OK, for those of you who might be interested in a slightly extended version of the above steps:
Step 1 – Define what you want. As Tim Ferriss states in The 4-Hour Workweek:
For all their bitching about what’s holding them back, most people have a lot of trouble coming up with the defined dreams they’re being held from.
I happen to believe that it’s purely fear that paralyzes human beings from declaring what they want. As long as it’s floating around within the confines of your own mind, you have nothing to risk and nothing to gain. You can simply daydream about it without any accountability to step outside of your comfort zone. It’s happiness purgatory if you ask me. It’s warm and fuzzy and logical. But once you declare it, oh shit. It’s on. Are you shaking in your boots, yet? You should be.
Tell me something. How the royal hell can you skydive, or travel to Tahiti, or get a black belt, or learn a foreign language, or sell all that useless shit that clutters your garage, or leave your deadbeat job, when you can’t even SAY where you want to dine out on a Sunday afternoon, for God’s sake?
Step 2 – Do it. Oh shit. You’ve opened your big mouth and declared what you want. People think you’re weird. You’ve been ostracized. All for choosing the restaurant for Sunday lunch, and now everyone else in your lunch party thinks you’re a complete selfish asshole because you were the only who didn’t say “I don’t care where we eat.”
Here’s a tip about taking action after you’ve declared your intentions: MOVE YOUR ASS, DESPITE WHAT YOUR BRAIN IS TELLING YOU. By this point it is completely full of shit and screaming all the reasons why you shouldn’t be proceeding, like a safety rep in the emergency medical department, explaining to the nurses why they should wait to pump lactated ringers into the bleeding patient who is ten minutes from death, because it’s safest to chart everything beforehand.
A few weeks ago, I made a declaration on a personal goal. My action plan requires harsh workouts, and ingesting so many calories per day that food has completely lost its pleasure, and I occasionally have to suppress the urge to vomit. The same urge to vomit is usually present after workouts, too. And do you know what my brain says every single day?
Stay put. This is way too hard. Have a day off. You deserve it.
And do you know what I tell my brain every single day? STFU. That’s what. I’m not in the business of declaring something with no intent to deliver. During last week’s vacation, after a night of extreme good times and fantastical memories, I dragged my sleep-deprived aching carcass to the gym on workout day with a mild hangover. Do you know what my brain was screaming the whole time? You get the picture.
To pull a quote from a previous post about the current pursuit of a music career:
True, passionate, amazing life isn’t for the polished, the refined, the flawless. It’s for getting dirty, making mistakes, and loving yourself and those around you all the more for it.
Define what you want in life, my friends. And go after it like death is on your heels. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll hurt, you’ll fall flat on your face, and you’ll climb the highest mountains, and you’ll LIVE. To the arena, my fellow gladiators. Don’t tell me what you’re capable of. Show me. Cheers.