On my 32nd birthday, I finally realized that there was a distinct possibility that the last of my "dreams" might never come to pass. At the time I hadn't even realized that it was a dream - I just hadn't had a proper girlfriend for a while. A long while. A really long while.
So in order to avoid a life of bachelorhood, I created a plan. I made lists. I came up with a strategy. I took all the problem solving skills I was developing to make rich men richer, and applied them to the gargantuan task of finding myself a girlfriend. A year or so later my strategy worked. A few months later I found myself on one knee, and a year to the day after we first met, I was finally married.
It didn't last. About two years after we married I lost Kate. To a brain haemorrhage. At Stanstead airport.
I've learned since that sudden deaths like hers (a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage) are surprisingly common. Kate had a weak part in her brain, probably since birth. It could have happened at any moment. It was almost inevitable. I learned too that after the shock of losing someone comes the guilt. Every cross word, every nasty thought, every lie - they all come back to haunt you. And among the demons that were queuing up to torment me was the realization that I wasn't happy, and maybe I never had been. There had been happy moments, of course. Quite a lot of moments. Most of them in the previous three years, and most of them down to Kate, but they were moments none the less. And I wanted to be happy all the time. Not just occasionally. Not just for a moment.
And so I decided to tackle the problem in the only way I knew how: by coming up with a plan. Making lists. Developing a strategy.
I kept it to myself at first. Well, you would wouldn't you? But one day a colleague got me talking, and I told her about "Boxing Day." And my "Now List." The items on my "Wish List." My yearly goals and how I make sure I actually achieve them. I told her how I've taken back control of my life, decided how I want it to be, pointed it in that direction, and given it a kick up the backside. I told her how I'm having more fun than I've ever had. Smiling more than I ever did. How there's love in my life again. How I think Kate would be proud of me. And that I can finally say I'm happy.
"Those ideas are too good to be kept to yourself," she said eventually. "You ought to write them down." So I did.
Here then are six tips taken from my book How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Have a read. Make some lists. Then create your own plan.