What if someday never happens? As the Buddha said, “The thing is, we think we have time.”
Sam Horn is a woman on a mission about not waiting for SOMEDAY … and this is her manifesto. Her dad’s dream was to visit all the National Parks when he retired. He worked six to seven days a week for decades. A week into his long-delayed dream, he had a stroke. Sam doesn’t want that to happen to you. She took her business on the road for a Year by the Water. During her travels, she asked people, “Do you like your life? Your job? If so, why? If not, why not?”
Life Hack 1: EVALUATE Your Happiness History
“In the name of God, stop a moment, cease your work, look around you.” —LEO TOLSTOY
The first Life Hack is to stop, look around, reflect, and EVALUATE what’s been contributing to your quality of life; what’s been compromising it. The Four-Minute–Four-Box Happiness Quiz can offer surprising insights into what’s supporting your life satisfaction, and what’s not.
The Four-Minute–Four-Box Happiness Quiz
Square 1. “What are you doing in your life that you want to do?” Walking your dog? Reading? Running your own business? Having date nights with your spouse?
Square 2. “What are you not doing in your life that you want to do?” Not losing weight? Not changing jobs? Not exercising? Not spending time with friends? Not having sex?
Square 3. “What are you doing in your life that you don’t want to do?” Commuting? Racking up credit-card debt? Fighting with a family member? Watching too much TV?
Square 4. “What are you not doing in your life that you don’t want to do?” Yes, this is a double negative. It’s an important question though because it identifies unhealthy behaviors you’re keeping out of your life. Maybe you used to smoke, don’t anymore, and you’re happy about that.
Life Hack 2: GENERATE a Today, Not Someday Dream
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” —MARY OLIVER
Want to turn your “I wish” into a “I will?” Fill in your W5 Form.
- WHAT exactly do you want to do, see, experience? What resources do you need? What are next steps to making this happen?
- WHY does this light you up? Why is this something meaningful you would enjoy?
- WHERE specifically do you want to go?
- WHEN would you go?
- WHO would you go with? Who can you contact to move this forward?
The more W’s you picture for your project, the more “real” it becomes in your mind’s eye because it turns something vague into something visual and visceral.
What takes away a dream is not committing a date to it on your calendar. If you want your dream to come true, post your W5 Form—What? Why? When? Where? Who?—where you’ll see it every day. The more detailed you get, the more invested you are, and the most invested you are, the more likely it is your dream will come true
Life Hack 3: ABDICATE Outdated Beliefs and Behaviors
“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” —GEORGE CARLIN
The word ABDICATE means to “disown, relinquish, give up.” That’s exactly what we need to do with physical and emotional stuff that might be taking up time, energy, and resources that could be used for higher priorities.
Did you announce your intention to launch your project and someone rained on your parade? Did you tell a significant other you were going to learn a new skill or pick up an old passion, and instead of supporting you, they told you all the reasons it wouldn’t work?
How has that impacted you? Did you allow yourself to be talked out of your dream? Did you give up what you wanted to do because this person yanked the confidence carpet out from underneath your feet?
If you are receiving push-back to your project that is undermining your resolve to do more of what’s important to you, it is crucial to find and align with people who believe in you. In fact, the more people, the better. Research shows that a primary predictor of successful habit change is whether you’re hanging with encouraging peers who share and support your goals.
Life Hack 4: INITIATE Daily Actions That Move Your Life Forward
“You have got to own your days and live them, each one of them, every one of them, or else the years go by and none of them belong to you.” —HERB GARDNER
Want to open your own dog-walking service? Google it and up comes everything you want to know about the costs, insurance, licensing, marketing, and pricing of setting up that business.
Want to take night classes in just about anything? Google it and up comes continuing education classes in your area in everything from how to code to how to be a wedding photographer.
The point is, you don’t have to know to go. That’s called perfectionism which is simply another way to spell procrastination. Instead, go online and Google an industry you want to explore. Attend a meeting. Request their brochure. Register for a webinar. Research next steps.
Whatever you do, don’t keep hashing this out in your head. Ideas in your head help no one. Bet on yourself. Be brave on behalf of your vision. Set your venture in motion. As soon as you do, Providence will move too. All kinds of “unforeseen incidents” will arise in your favor. All because you stopped waiting and starting initiating. It’s 11:30 … time for your show to go on.
Life Hack 5: CELEBRATE What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now
“I’ve always had the feeling that life loves the liver of it.” —MAYA ANGELOU
There is no present like the time—and no time like the present—to get out of your head and “calm to your senses.” You can do it with this simple “I See Now” exercise.
- Look around and let your eyes settle on one specific thing. Make it for your eyes only. Really look at the chair you’re sitting on. Feel the fabric, bounce on the cushion, examine the construction. Think of all the hours you’ve sat there, all the experiences you’ve had there. What you didn’t notice seconds before can become a source of intrigue.
- Gaze at something else in your vicinity and examine it closely. Is there a computer or phone nearby? Chances are you turn it on and use it without even thinking about what a miracle it is to tap on a piece of plastic and instantly transmit a message to someone thousands of miles away. Really study this inanimate object. Think about the ideas you’ve created, the laughs you’ve shared, the connections you’ve experienced. It’s impossible to take this device for granted if you really see it for the miracle it is.
- Move your eyes to someone in the area. Instead of looking at this person and seeing only the “story” you know about him or her based on your history (“She doesn’t listen to me.” “He forgot to get gas in the car again.” “Why did she get that promotion and I didn’t?”), look at that person with fresh eyes. Imagine you’re meeting him or her for the first time. Does it help you see them with more empathetic eyes?
Life Hack 6: AFFILIATE with People Who Have Your Back and Front
“Anything is possible if you have the right people supporting you.” —MISTY COPELAND
Want to increase the likelihood of your dreams coming true? Host a Today, Not Someday vision-board party. Invite friends over. Make a trip to the library to pick up different types of magazines for free (or for a few cents each). Give everyone a stack of magazines, a poster board, glue stick, and some scissors. Play upbeat music. Let the fun begin.
When you’re finished, don’t put your vision board away where it’s out of sight, out of mind. Post it where you’ll see it frequently to visually reinforce what you want your upcoming months to look and feel like on a daily basis. Sheryl Sandberg said, “Dream long. Plan short.” The more public you make and keep your vision, the more likely it is your dream and plan will happen in the short term and in the long term.
Life Hack 7: INTEGRATE Your Passion and Profession
“Working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress. Working hard for something you love is called passion.” —SIMON SINEK
We spend a third or more of our life at work. It is not a joke to be unhappy for a third or more of our life. It is not okay to simply accept that work sucks or hope it will get better … someday. Hope is not a strategy.
A better strategy is to take responsibility for making your job more fulfilling. This is not the impossible dream. Think about a cause that is calling you, an issue that needs addressing, a problem that needs solving. Dedicating yourself to that can give your life meaning and purpose and help create a lasting legacy.
You may be thinking, “I’m a little young to be thinking about legacy. Isn’t that something we do in the last years of our life?”
Well, no. Legacy is simply leading a life that will make an enduring positive difference for others. We can do that at any age. You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.
How will you stop waiting for rewarding work to come to you and start meeting it in the middle? How can you blend a cause and your career to change the world and change your world? What will you start this week to make your job more enjoyable?
Life Hack 8: NEGOTIATE for What You Want, Need, and Deserve
“The moment you settle for less than you deserve, you get less than you even settled for.” —MAUREEN DOWD
Contrary to what we may have been taught, trying to make other people happy makes no one happy. This is not to say we think only of what we want. This means we maintain a better balance between honoring what others want and what we want.
Next time you’re about to say yes when your gut is saying no, ask yourself, “Am I ordering pasta I don’t want?”
Your future depends on many things, mostly on you. If you want to be happier now, not someday, stop tiptoeing around the truth. Say how you really feel and ask for what you really want … from the beginning. It is so much cleaner. People no longer have to read your mind and you no longer have to read theirs. As Mary J. Blige would say, “No more drama.”
Life Hack 9: INNOVATE a Fresh Start
“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” —MARY PICKFORD
Are you in a dark tunnel? Even if you only have an hour a week, how can you bring back something you enjoy to give yourself a much-needed fresh start?
You’ve probably heard the phrase “It was a light at the end of the tunnel.” In the midst of dark times, we don’t just need a light at the end of the tunnel; we need a light in the tunnel right now. Doing something that puts the light on in our eyes is one way to do that. This may sound simplistic, however the goal is to remember while we may not be able to change the big things in our life, we can change the little things and they add up.
If you’re in a situation with elements you can’t control (loved ones in pain, people hogging the computer), what can you control? The amount of sunshine you get? Playing music that lifts your spirits? Focusing on the difference you’re making? If you’re in the midst of dark times, doing something that shines a light on what’s right isn’t petty; it’s pivotal.
Life Hack 10: RELOCATE to Greener Pastures
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” —MARCEL PROUST
If you’ve done everything to improve a current situation and the writing on the wall tells you it’s not going to get better, heed the advice of palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware. Summon the courage to remove yourself from a place that’s undermining your health and happiness. Seek a new home that supports your true self so you don’t look back with regrets.