The number of experts ready to give you the secret to your success and happiness are innumerable. There are consultants and coaches who will charge you a fortune for their secrets. Want to know the 7 habits of highly successful people, well we all know about that book. Ted Talks bring you people at the top of their industries with maps to help you make a better life, get a better understanding, be more confident, have more success, be more satisfied, make a better marriage, and anything else you can imagine. Want to know the most popular course ever at Yale according to the New York Times? It’s Happiness. Harvard even has a premier book collection named How To Be Human At Work, and what’s the first book in the list? It’s Happiness. Point, counterpoint, and counterpoint again! It would seem that if you studied all of this long enough and if you followed all of the advice of the experts, it would be simple to have a happy life, a satisfying marriage, a rock-star career, and oodles of money in the bank. What a life you can have if you just follow the formulas provided to you by others!
Many of these experts are well-schooled and have well-researched opinions and positions that can have value to you. We should listen to and learn from them. But while we’re listening, I’ll suggest five things we should be doing at the same time:
1) GET MOVING. Don’t stay in the same life place for too long. Time is moving along around you and taking you with it whether you like it or not. And it moves more quickly than we expect. Be sure to be doing something with your time. Live 365 days a year, not 1 day 365 times over. I’m not suggesting leaving your job or your marriage or abandoning your children, I’m suggesting that we should always be expanding our horizons.
2) TRY SOMETHING NEW. One way to get moving is to try something new. You don’t have to be an expert in everything you do, and don’t forget that there is huge value in doing some things simply for the inner joy you receive from doing them. By widening your horizons, you are also creating a more informed and well-reasoned and (hopefully) satisfied and happy you.
3) LIVE IN THE MOMENT. Now that you’ve gotten moving by trying something new, be sure to keep on moving. Don’t stop. What’s good for you and your life then you’re 20 years old is often not the same as when you are 40 and again 60 and so on…. Keep pace, live in the now, and don’t ever stop. The past is gone and the future is yet to happen, so don’t worry excessively about those two things and focus on the NOW. That doesn’t mean not ever to rest or to relish the past or to plan for the future, but it does mean to keep experiencing and trying new things in your PRESENT. Wherever you are in your life, be there.
4) KEEP LISTENING TO THE EXPERTS AND THE NON-EXPERTS. There is nothing wrong with listening to the experts: they often have a lot of good input for us. Also be sure to listen to the non-experts. These can be your friends, your mentors, the old wise (or not so wise) man next door, your great Aunt Betty, the person on their death bed, your kids (even your young ones), and whoever else might have a different view-point on life than you. They will often provide unexpected pearls of wisdom at the mot unexpected times. And don’t forget to listen to that little voice in your head that is your own self. You don’t need to take all of their advice but try to listen openly and let them take you out of your safety zone and perhaps generate some new insight into your life and your current place in the human condition. You might be surprised how simply listening and being open to others’ experiences can positively impact your own.
5) Finally, JUST DO IT. Get it? This is the Nike part. So many of us overcomplicate the process of deciding what we should be doing in our lives in the first four steps above that we often forget to actually move. We remain frozen in a condition of analysis paralysis in our personal lives that we would never tolerate in our professional lives. There is never a perfect, or often even easy, time to get moving. My suggestion to you is to pick something, anything, and just do it. Right now. Add something new to your personal plate. Pick up a new hobby. Volunteer at a new non-profit organization. Start up a home-based business. Start to write a book. Get back in touch with your spirituality. Take more responsibility at work. Whatever you choose, give it fair shot, and if it works for you, great! If not, try something else. And then repeat over and over again. You don’t need to overthink all of this, you just need to DO IT! And while you’re at it, don’t forget to look for things you can take off your plate to make room for what is new and important.
The world that we live in can be all sorts of things, both positive and negative, but at least in the United States, it is also filled with wonder and opportunity. Don’t forget to take advantage of that every day.