Tuesday, September 9, 2014

30 Day Challenge - Finding Happiness And Satisfaction One Step At A Time

Well, it has happened.  
Today I turn 40.  

I have been dreading this day and planning for this day for a very long time.  
I shouldn't really say dreading because I don't really feel 40 and don't really care that I'm 40.  My brain can't really grasp that I could even be 40.  I remember when my parents turned 40.  It had a bigger impact on me than turning 40 myself does.  I have so much left to do that I can't possibly be 40 which brings me to my first point.

Everyone keeps saying things these days like "50 is the new 30" and "the 30's are the new 20's"  Generally they are referring to looks.  We look younger at whatever age we are now than our ancestors did at the same age.  We are more obese as a species than they were too, but in general we have learned ways to look younger.

The idea that our 30's are the new 20's is so true though.  It is so true that it really makes me wonder what the heck my 40's will be like.  I've heard that in your 40's you are supposed to finally feel settled in and more satisfied with life in general.  You supposedly know your path and purpose in life by now and are starting to get comfortable with where life is headed.  

I'm just going to say not to drink the Koolaid because it is true that the 30"s are the new 20"s and that's not a great evolution.

Our 20's have always been the time when young adults are figuring out who they are and by their 30's they start to settle into that path, or so we are told.

In 2014 I'm here to tell you that recent world changes have made our 30's just as confusing and just as much of a struggle as our 20's and we spend the entire time still trying to figure out what we are supposed to be doing with ourselves.

If I had to say today what do I think the 40's will be like I would have to say that I think it is just an extension of our 20's and 30's, but hopefully together we can either change that or at least learn to help each other manage it.

So, what exactly do I mean?

Well, there are plenty of people my age who got married and had children fairly young and now have reached the point of Empty Nest Syndrome and have no idea what they are supposed to be doing with their lives, but we already know that Empty Nest Syndrome is a thing and are more prepared for that then we are/were for the world to be in such chaos that we still feel like we don't know what the  heck we are doing at 40 any more than we did at 20 no matter who we are or how we have lived to this point.

So, why do so many people feel this way?

First, because of the decline in the job market and he economy which has been declining steadily for the last 2 decades and is still declining and will continue to decline for a very long time as we discover how much of it was based on inflated imaginary numbers which will always collapse eventually (the housing market, the higher education system, Wall Street, 401k's, etc.) and are and will soon collapse around us.  Job security doesn't exist and yet hiring managers still approach hiring with the brainwashing that the best employees won't have gaps in their work history.  FALSE!!!  So many of us can't find work or can't keep steady work or went to school for a career that no longer exists or are over-educated and can't get a foot in the door because of it and can't make enough money to keep up with inflation or can't find a job that pays enough to even cover the loans we have from school in the first place.  We were taught to stay single longer and be independent, but no one ever said "and oh yeah, you are going to have to do it in not even a 2 income society, but basically a 4 income society where you won't be able to make it unless you have 4 full time incomes coming in, but don't you DARE feel like anything but a failure when you can't do it successfully because you live in a world of inflated imaginary numbers and by admitting that world doesn't work you will enlighten the others as to why the rich are only getting richer and the rest of us feel like we must be doing something wrong."  They are getting richer because we are STILL buying into the imaginary numbers that they sell us.  Then we teach women to be strong-willed, successful, independent creatures who must be good at everything, but didn't bother to teach men how to be a man in a world filled with strong-willed, independent creatures who must be good at everything, so relationships are failing right and left and we are all trying to be independent while completely missing the fact that a successful relationship REQUIRES a certain level of co-dependence to succeed and then we create this thing called the internet and social media which provides a platform to screw up your life in a billion different ways with the newest technology that you are expected to have but can't even truthfully afford but can't live successfully without because you are expected to have it and if you don't have it won't be able to participate competitively so just go ahead and wear the badge of failure on your shirt.

Second, we have a completely contaminated food supply which is killing us in multiple ways, but most importantly through the extremely high rates of depression it causes, etc. etc. etc.  I could go on and on and on with all of the ways that the changes in the world have completely set us up for failure and all the while shaming us for not knowing why we can't seem to get it figured out.  At 40 so many of us are starting over for the 1st time or the 3rd time or the 10th time or even feel like we have never gotten started in the first place.  It's a heavy time in life but together we can try and put 2 and 2 together and have it actually equal 4 again.

I have been planning for this day and for this post for months and months now.  I want today to be significant not just for me, but for as many people as I can possibly reach with this technology that is so amazing and so ruinous all at the same time.  No matter what your age, today can be the first day where you take the first step that leads to real satisfaction and happiness.  Today we are all going to start working together to reach our goals and I want our number 1 goal to be to experience happiness.

So, here is how this is going to work.  We are going to do this together and support each other and be HONEST about how the world really is and how we contribute to both the good and bad in it.  We are going to break through the lies that we have been told and taught and find our happiness through truth and simplicity.  We are going to take small steps that are easily accomplished to reach bigger goals over time and feel a REAL sense of success in this world that has set us up for failure.  So what I need you to do is write down a few GENERAL LIFE CATEGORIES where you would like your life to improve.  No more than 5 and don't worry if they seem either too general or simplistic or too overtly specific.  You will be able to change them later as you cross the small achievements off your list and as your life changes in general and you find you have to adjust.  This is going to be a realistic approach and I'm not going to sell you on an idea that you can never achieve by luring you in with fancy bells and whistles.  We are going to keep it simple.  I'm going to tell you my 5 general life categories just to get you started.

Pretty simple and very general categories right?

You might find my 5 areas are exactly the same as yours or yours might be completely different and could include topics like spirituality, community, or grief.  Yours might even be slightly more specific like "improve relationship with children" and that's ok too.

Now that you have your 5 general life categories put them in order of importance from most important to least important.  (You might find over time that an area becomes more or less important as your life changes and moves up or down on your list.)  So, for example if you are poor then money might feel extremely important to you right now, but as you make more money over time you might find that improving relationships with others becomes more important to you than money down the line.

For example, my CATEGORIES BY IMPORTANCE might look like this:

Next I want you to put them in order by easiest to achieve to hardest to achieve.  You might feel that improving your health is easier to achieve than finding your soul mate and would order them accordingly.

As an example my CATEGORIES BY EFFORT might look like this:

What you will find as you order this 2nd list is that items at the top of your list in many cases if accomplished will make it easier to successfully accomplish the items at the bottom of your list which is why we will be putting the majority of our focus on this list.  So for example using my list of CATEGORIES BY EFFORT if you worked on your health and fitness or maybe your weight first the confidence that you would build as you achieve those goals would make establishing healthy relationships or finding love easier because when you feel great you make people around you feel great too and people tend to be drawn to confidence in general.  Also as I make more money and solidify amazing relationships I will be able to afford bigger and better entertainment and have better people around me to do those activities with.

Now we are going to state exactly what our overall goal is and for all of us the goal is going to be the same and it is this...

Happiness and Satisfaction

So at the top of a piece of paper I want you to write your goal which is Happiness and Satisfaction

Underneath it I want you to write your list with the order of importance on the left and the order of effort on the right. 

I want you to circle the list on the right because that is where our focus will be for now.  We are going to start at the top of the list of categories by effort and work our way through small achievable goals which will have a domino effect over time leading us directly to accomplishing our main goal which is to feel more happiness and satisfaction in our lives.

The next step is to take that first item from the list on the right and break it down into 5 small steps you could take that would move you towards success in that goal whatever it night be.  These will be the ACTIONABLE STEPS we will take to start moving in the direction of Happiness and Satisfaction.  The important thing is that you break it down into steps that do not require any additional actions be taken to complete them.  For example, my first CATEGORY BY EFFORT is health.  I would like to improve my overall health.  A step that would require additional actions to achieve it would be to say something like "lose 50 pounds".  I would need an additional action plan in order to figure out how to lose 50 pounds which would include things like cutting out certain foods and counting calories and adding in exercise and planning ahead etc. etc. etc.  If I am suddenly responsible for all of those changes at once I am setting myself up for failure.  I might go whole hog on it for a day or 2 but would become either overwhelmed or exhausted by it and by day 3 would have quit.  Your 5 ACTIONABLE STEPS need to be things that require no additional steps to achieve them.  So, for example one thing I can do to improve my health without having to take any additional steps to achieve it would be to stop drinking 1 can of pop every day.  Right now I usually drink 2 cans of pop a day and if I stop drinking one of those cans of pop I am taking a step towards improving my health that is not at all overwhelming.  So my 5 small steps might look like this:

Cut out one can of pop per day
Cut out second can of pop per day
Eat one serving of raw vegetables per day
Eat one serving of raw fruits per day
Take 10,000 steps one day per week

Once you have your five items put them in order from easiest to hardest or in the order that they must be done if the later steps cannot be started if the previous steps have not been accomplished.  (You don't brush your teeth first and then put the toothpaste on the toothbrush after right?)  Now if I were to put my list in order from easiest step to hardest step or in order of what makes the most sense it would probably look like this:

Cut out one can of pop per day
Eat one serving of raw vegetables per day
Cut out second can of pop per day
Eat one serving of raw fruits per day
Take 10,000 steps one day per week

I am basically replacing one bad habit with one good habit two times and then adding in a fitness goal that touches on the minimum of what we are told we should do in a day anyhow.  So put your 5 ACTIONABLE STEPS in order from easiest to hardest or in an order like mine if it happens to be a situation where you can't do the last step if you haven't yet done the first step and it requires a specific order to function.  Now highlight the first step, write it in bubble letters, put stars and hearts around it, put a sticker next to it, decorate it however you like because that is what you are going to be doing starting TODAY.  (If your actionable step is in any way related to drugs or alcohol PLEASE only start with the supervision of a doctor!)

This is what it should look like:

Starting TODAY I am going to drink one less can of pop per day.  Tell me in the comments below what your first step is.  We will be focused on this step and this step only for quite some time in order to turn it into a habit and sooner rather than later we will all be feeling more happiness and satisfaction in our lives.  While most of is will have chosen an actionable step that needs 30 days of repetition to make it into a habit some of you will have chosen an actionable step that literally only needs to be done once.  (For example if you are working to rearrange your living room you might only need to move the couch one time.)  If this is the case for you then feel free to enjoy the success of crossing one item off your list and moving on to actionable step 2, but most of us will need more time to make our actionable step a life change.  If I take this step and practice it for 30 days I will be 30 days older and 30 days closer to my goal of greater happiness and satisfaction in life.  If I don't take this step then 30 days from now I will just be 30 days older and so will you so take your own small step with me and we will make this journey together.

1 comment: