Ibelieve that the key to success and happiness lies in your ability to align and integrate different aspects of your life so that they work in harmony. The two biggest areas to integrate are your personal and business lives. You must start by defining your ideal personal life and lifestyle, then design the ideal career that will support that life.
Picture yourself waking up every day excited about the day ahead. You enjoy your activities and interactions with people throughout the day, and you feel engaged and challenged. At the end of each day, you feel good about what you accomplished. You have a sense of progressive fulfillment over the years as you make progress toward meaningful goals and inspiring dreams. You are constantly growing personally and professionally.
Now imagine this ideal career integrated seamlessly with your ideal personal life. Your work becomes a vehicle to express your values, interact with the kind of people you most enjoy, pursue your interests and hobbies, travel to places you want to visit, and enjoy cultural and social activities that are most rewarding to you.
That is my definition of total success and genuine happiness. Each one of us has a unique combination of interests, strengths, values, goals, and desired lifestyles, so I have developed a multistep, three-phase process to help you define what will create total success and genuine happiness in your life.
Phase One: Clarify Your Dream
From a behavioral psychology perspective, human beings are motivated by two simple stimuli. They either move toward pleasure or move away from pain. If you do not have a clear vision of a pleasurable future that you want in your life, you will default to moving away from painful things that you don’t want in your life. That means you will be taking action out of fear, instead of positive expectations. You will also be focusing psychic energy thinking about the exact things that you don’t want in your life. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
Success is subjective. No one is better able to tell you what will make you happy than you. It is also important to separate your dreams, which will make you happy if they come true, from your fantasies, which will make you unhappy if they come true. Put energy into your dreams, not your fantasies. In phase one, you can clarify your dream of success in four simple steps.
Clarify your values, beliefs, and purpose. Your values and beliefs drive your behavior in a subconscious way. With your values and beliefs identified, you can define your life’s purpose–the contribution you want to make to the planet. Without clarifying these important subconscious drivers, you can’t ensure that your actions and words are in harmony with them.
Identify your talents, interests, and passions. The goal is to harness your talents and interests in a way that is fun and profitable in the service of fulfilling your higher purpose. Identify meaningful past life successes and identify the strengths, talents, and skills that enabled you to achieve those successes.
Then decide what business strengths you already have that you would you like to develop further. Focus on those things that you are already strongly attracted to and passionate about.
Define your ideal lifestyle and career. You may want to be a financial advisor who works for a major corporation in a big city and makes millions of dollars a year managing money for the rich and famous. Or you may want to be an independent financial advisor who lives in the country, fishes a lot, has an orchard and garden and only works half-time. Same career, but different visions of the ideal lifestyle.
Start by defining your ideal personal and business scenarios. Then design a business or career situation that supports your ideal lifestyle. Don’t grind out boring or stressful work just to make money. Make your business a vehicle to express your values and beliefs and to utilize your strengths to fulfill your purpose.
Clarify your inspiring vision of success. Think of this as a picture in your mind of all the elements of your life working in harmony, and in the service of a higher purpose.
Phase Two: Create Your Plan
In phase two, it’s time to look at the marketplace and find the opportunities for you to manifest your vision.
Create your criteria and measurements. How will you know if you are successful? How will you track your progress? Be sure to establish criteria that aligns and integrates the different areas of your business and personal lives. Define the key business and personal numbers and ratios that define success for you.
If you’re building a fee-based business, the measure of success is simple: earnings before interest and taxes. Key numbers are total households served and dollars under management. The key ratios are average account size or income per household. In this exercise, you keep score by how much your assets, profits, and average account size are growing. You could also track how many vacation days or personal development days you take each quarter or year.
Research and target specific opportunities. A simple place to start is to acquire and read secondary research that has already been conducted by others. This is very useful for sizing your markets, identifying the highest-priority prospects, and targeting specific areas of opportunity for additional research. Your criteria and measures help direct your initial research and selection of target opportunities.
Set “big, hairy, audacious goals” for yourself and your team. Here I want you to dream big. Create goals that challenge and inspire everyone who hears them. Then tell everyone you know. Let it be known that you are up to something big. You’ll be surprised how many people want to help you when you give them a chance to work with you to achieve a higher purpose.
Create action plans and schedules. These plans need to explain what strategies and tactics you will employ to turn your vision into reality. They consist of plans, project descriptions, formal responsibilities, reporting chains, and implementation schedules.
Phase Three: Work Your Plan
In our action-oriented, non-introspective society, most people just charge ahead, hoping that if they work really hard and everything works out, someday, somehow, they will be happy. But we must take responsibility for our own happiness. We can only achieve it if we make sure we are doing the right work and have the right goals–ones that will truly be fulfilling and meaningful once we achieve them.
Implement the action plan. This is where you can use the powerful technique of “affirmations.” Write your plans on 3×5 cards. Recite them to yourself every morning and every night. Burn them into your subconscious. And do whatever it takes to make your plan work.
Learn from your experiences. Researchers have found that we learn life’s most valuable lessons by acting, not by reading or thinking. As you take action to reengineer your business and your life, you will get confused and you will make many mistakes. Remember, you are new at this. The idea is to make a lot of small mistakes and adjust course along the way. Use your vision and goals as your “emotional lighthouse” to guide your direction and mark your progress.
Keep what works and discard what does not. Don’t try to make major changes at first. Just make slow, constant improvements. At a certain point, unexpected breakthroughs will occur as the diverse areas of your life move into alignment and create synergies. You will find yourself achieving more success at work with less effort and enjoying more happiness in your personal life.
Refine your vision, self-knowledge, goals, activities, and results. Life is not a destination; it’s a journey. The daily enjoyment and learning, and the progressive attainment of meaningful goals, is what makes life worth living. Life is a many-faceted puzzle, and you can refine your life until you have created a masterpiece of success and happiness.
All of my research leads me to the conclusion that the more you live in harmony with your purpose, passions, and profit drivers, the happier and more successful you will be. Happiness is a learned skill. I taught myself, and I hope you can apply these ideas in your life. I encourage you to share them with loved ones and clients. These 12 steps will guide anyone to transform their lives to achieve total success and genuine happiness.