I want you to ask yourself a question. It’s an important question, the question of all questions: Am I happy where I am? COVID-19 or no, am I happy, and am I having the impact I want to have? If the answer is yes, I congratulate you! But – if the answer is no, then we have some work to do. Believe me when I say that the happiness you seek IS attainable, but as I said, it requires effort. You need to understand that going in.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want you to do something:
Step 1 – Close your eyes. Take a deep breath, and visualize where it is you want to be. Maybe it’s a place, maybe it’s a state of mind, maybe it’s a career or a family, or a host of other things. Or even some combination of it all. Do you have that image in your head? What does it look like? It’s ok if it’s a little out of focus. But remember it. Etch it into your brain, and proceed to Step 2.
Step 2 – Ask yourself, what is it going to take you to get there? And is the path you’re currently on going to make it possible? If not, proceed to Step 3.
Step 3 – Make a plan for how you’re going to achieve your vision. Maybe it means putting yourself out there more, maybe it’s more education, maybe it’s finding a mentor, or a new path. Either way, write your plan down, and give yourself a deadline. Proceed to Step 4.
Step 4 – Before I tell you what this step is, you need to know that this is the hardest step of all. It means change, it means getting out of our comfort zone. It’s scary, but you MUST do it if you’re going to achieve your vision. And I promise you that it is the only way to happiness and joy. Are you ready? Drum roll please… Step 4 is to ACT! As one of my mentors is fond of saying, “action brings clarity”. Do what you need to do to set your plan in motion. And get started. Take the first step. And then the next. Each successive step will get just a bit easier. You’ll develop a cadence and a rhythm, and you’ll be on your way before you know it.
Now – a word of caution. Action does indeed bring clarity, but it doesn’t mean the path will always be a picnic. There will be trials, there will be distractions, and there will be those who aren’t as excited by your plan as you are. It’s possible that you’ll feel doubt as you navigate these bumps in the road. But keep going. Eventually you will achieve the happiness and the impact you seek. I know this because I’ve done it. And I know that you can do it too.
Ten years ago, I was in a long term stable job. And I had some of the perks that come with it – extra vacation, co-workers that were as close as family, the occasional business trip. But I wasn’t happy. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to advance, and I really had no idea what I wanted. I just knew it wasn’t working. One day I put myself out there and got together with a new group of people. And through a serendipitous conversation, I connected with an organization that literally became the first step to changing my life – the International Institute of Business Analysis, or IIBA. As I got involved in the IIBA, I met new people, identified new dreams, and went all in on a career. It was hard. It required change, and a lot of tears were shed. Eventually I joined a new company, and then another and another. I got a Masters degree, I started a podcast, and this website. And now I’m feeling more alive inside than ever, and am inching ever closer to what I envisioned. Action brings happiness.
Now – go and do!