Don't Look for a Job, Look for a Life!

02/25/2015 03:48 pm ET | Updated Apr 27, 2015
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Are you living the life you dreamed about as a child?

Sadly, for many people the answer is "No, not really."

Have you ever wondered what went wrong? Here's one of the culprits: Our society thrives on success, and we have defined success in a very narrow way that leads us down a dead end path. And here we are, doing whatever we do every day, and wishing it were different and better and more fulfilling.

Let's face it: We are measured in large part, by our careers and economic success, right? Our parents told us, "Go to school and get a job" and most of us obediently did just that. And yet that path all by itself hasn't made us happy.

In my opinion, we fail as a society, when we forget that a job is not the same thing as a life. We fail as parents when we don't encourage our children to create a life of both success and happiness. We fail our families when we are so consumed with climbing the corporate ladder that we miss out on the memories that make life worth living. We fail ourselves if don't allow ourselves the opportunity to be happy.

And, it turns out that life is very short. Why should we spend it being miserable in a job that does not suit us? Don Clifton, a positive psychology pioneer and inventor of The Gallup StrengthFinder, once said, "Everybody does one thing better than 10,000 other people. That's the good news. The bad news is that most of us have no idea what that one thing is." I am encouraging you today to find and do the one thing that makes you truly happy. I am giving you permission to explore your options. I want you to have a career or business that brings you both happiness and success. And, you can have both. In fact, you should settle for no less. You are literally spending what is left of your life gambling on the fact that you will live long enough to retire and THEN be happy. Is that your plan? Why are you waiting? Why not plan to be happy now? Today!

Here's some sobering news, and maybe some impetus for you to get started. Did you know that the average life expectancy of an adult in the United States is 78 years or 4056 weeks? If you take your current age, and multiply it by 52 to get your age in weeks and then subtract that from 4056, you get the number of weeks, on average, you have left in your life.

What is your number?

Sobering isn't it?

More importantly, how will you spend it?

Will you spend it living your ideal life? Or not?

The fact is, we just never know how long we have left, and yet most of us just plug away at a job or a business that makes us miserable. In my mind, that is a travesty and a waste of potential talent that could be solving the important problems in the world. The problem, I think, is that most people have no idea what will truly make them happy. But you need to start somewhere. There are five steps you can take today toward designing your ideal life. These are simple, but not easy. It is your life, so get started.

The first step: Decide to be happy. Simple really, but it truly is your mindset that has to shift before anything else can improve. You have to plant in your mind the idea that you will no longer tolerate less than happiness. You will need to challenge the negative self-talk that keeps you stuck in your current situation. And then you must wake up every morning and BE happy. Happiness starts in your mind. Start there, and everything else in your life will naturally get easier. You will be more pleasant to be around. People will start to relate to you. Your decision to BE happy will start to change the rest of your life. But that is only the first step.

The second step: Get crystal clear on what you really want and why you want it. What will really make you happy? Most people cannot answer this question. You will need to do some personal reflection and soul searching. What does a truly ideal life look like for you? Have you thought about all areas of your life? Your life is much more than just your job. Are you doing the one thing in life that you were meant to do? Are you doing the one thing that brings you joy and gives you energy? Why not? You really need to paint a vivid picture of what your new ideal life looks like for you. You need to examine every area of your life before you get a new job. You can call it creating your vision. Whatever you call it, it is a critical step in designing your ideal life. You must picture it first before you can create it. Every action is preceded by a thought. But, just thinking about it will not make it so.

Next: Determine your starting point. Every journey has a starting point. You cannot determine where you are going before you determine where you are starting. If you decided tomorrow that you wanted to go to Chicago, the route looks much different if you start in Seattle versus Houston. You need to assess your current situation, your health, your finances, your training, your desires, your strengths, your values, your skills, and your talents. All of these and more are the pieces that go into the puzzle of designing your ideal life.

Then: Create your action plan. Once you know where you currently are, and where you want to go, you need to plan out the steps to get there. Your action plan is the bridge to get from where you are today to where you want to be. Again, this plan needs to look at every area of your life. Perhaps your plan includes a change of jobs or careers. You may need to take a class or get a certification. Having a plan helps you make sure you are taking steps every day toward your new desired future.

Finally: Get off the couch and take focused action. You have to actually DO something to make it better. Complaining about it is not going to help. You have to get focused and stay focused on your dream of an ideal life. And you need to find someone to help hold you accountable to do the work to stay on track with your plan to achieve those dreams.

These are just five steps. They are simple, but they are not easy. If they were easy, everyone would be living their ideal life. Maybe you need to stop looking for a job, and start looking for a life. Choosing the right career and job will make a significant difference in your happiness, health, and wellbeing, but your job is only one part of your ideal life.

This journey starts in your mind. Designing Your Ideal Life takes you through a proven process to create your blueprint for success and happiness.

Get started today. Create your blueprint for success and happiness.