New Year’s 2015: Happiness isn’t a real goal.
That’s right. I said it. Here’s how I screwed up 2014, what I learned (the hard way), and how I’m going to own 2015 (and how you can too!).
In 2014, I had one simple New Year’s “un-resolution”: to have no goals but to do the things that make me happy. This was my un-resolution method: no “gym x times per week” or “make x dollars” nonsense. I was getting right to the heart of it: just be happier. Easy peasy!
I was in pursuit of happiness, and little did I know, I was wasting my time. I failed, majorly. And, in some perverse, masochistic way, actually ended up being anxious and depressed for most of the year. I didn’t realize what a huge disservice to myself I was doing when I just said I wanted to be happier. It was major sabotage and my wishy washy resolution was screwing me over. By the summer, I knew I had some major work to do and began to undo and fix my well-meaning, but ultimately stupid happiness goal.
Clarity truly is everything when it comes to goals. And happiness? Really dumb, super vague goal. Sorry everyone. Happiness just isn’t specific. It’s too general, too generic… too “nice”.
Here’s what I’ve found by failing at happiness this past year: striving for, ahem, mere happiness means you’re going to either compromise on the specifics that make YOU happy by trying desperately to accept things as-is and pretending you don’t want more. Convincing yourself that you should already be happy will make you miserable, and probably make you feel guilty about not being happy with your lot. Far from being appreciative, I found myself judging myself for not being ecstatic about all that I do have. How could I not be insanely happy with my awesome husband, (mostly) fun business, adorable, smart baby boy? I have so much, why was I feeling so much lack? Like me, you’ll likely believe there’s something wrong with you. But frankly there probably isn’t…you’re just not being specific enough about what makes you happy, and what you want to strive for. In fact, it’s disrespectful to your true desires.
What it was exactly that I was striving for last January, I’m still not sure. I’m working on it. I think at the time it was about finding simplicity and ease, which I started to experience by the summer when I became obsessed with decluttering and paying off all my student debt. This isn’t exactly happiness itself, but it makes me feel better. Guilt-free. Somehow more whole. Ready to move forward. I also now know that being inspired, and inspiring, is a major player in my own happiness and something I need to focus on daily. Oddly, happiness to me (and my husband) often looks like work.
Once I started to see what it is that I truly desire, I began to act like it was already true about myself. Recently I began to seriously write this major thing I’ve been putting off for a year, because of self-doubt. I acted inspired, I found inspiration. When I am tidying up my house, I don’t cling onto things for all the self-sabotaging patterns of scarcity that once held me back. I can just let it go, because I let myself feel more abundant and I value simplicity. When I made a really hard business decision (which I will tell you about shortly), I trusted my gut because it was in line with my values. Values I can be clear about. Acting like my desires are reality also has helped me dig up all kinds of blocks I have, the things that hold me back. It’s not pretty, but it sure is useful.
This wasn’t an easy year for me, but it was a good one nonetheless. And from what I’ve learned, achieving my so-called “un-resolutions” and actually realizing dreams, comes down to a two-step process.
So, in two simple steps, here is how you can set an un-resolution of your own, circumnavigate happiness itself, and be happier in 2015:
1. Be specific about what you truly want.
So hard to really nail down, but try to be as specific as you can (without going overboard…some flexibility is appreciated!). The key is to be honest with yourself and what really floats your goat. I never even realized that I had trouble with this, but alas, delving into my desires not only exposed what I want and value, but all kinds of blockages within me that I hold onto out of fear. Get specific, and it really will come to you. (This book really helps!)
What I found really helped me is my new answer to everything: declutter. Declutter your house, your mind will follow. When you can see the floor, your shelves, all your things neatly in place, you entire life somehow makes more sense. You will understand what you want better. It’s weird. It works.
Whether you believe in “manifestation” or not, know that it is only by being specific that either the Universe, your sub-conscious, or whatever higher-power you believe in that delivers the goods to you, will get the memo and YOU will make it happen. Be wishy washy? Nothing feels right, events don’t fit together, and even your accomplishments just feel random and out of order. Why? Because you won’t know how to act. What to look for. How to get aligned.
Whatever your true goals are, their underlying purpose is to make you happier. What else would it be? Why would you truly want anything in life, if it wasn’t to make you happier? You want money to be buy yourself freedom, because it makes you happy. You want to dress better, because feeling beautiful makes you happy. You want to go to the gym because being fit and looking slim and being strong makes you feel happy. So, be specific about what kind of things make YOU happy. Be true to you! (Cue cheesy music.)
Don’t do what I did and get lazy and just say you want to be happier, in some general kind of way. Doesn’t work. Been there, tried it. Wrote this newsletter.
2. Make concrete lists, then act by “investing in your desire with your desire’s currency”.
Act as if you’ve already got the thing you want by doing the small, daily actions that having that goal would mean to you. If you want to achieve more abundance, do everything you can to embrace an abundance mindset. List all the things you’ve got that make you feel abundant, whatever that means to you. Cherish what you’ve already got that is aligned with your desires and use it. Whatever it is…don’t save it up! If feeling abundant means wearing nice clothes, wear your good clothes…today!
Or, think of it this way: invest in your desire in the same currency as your desire. If a desire of yours is to surround yourself with beauty, then invest in the desire by decorating your house and body whole-heartedly in things you find beautiful (don’t stash them away!). Not a lot of so-called currency? Then use your mindset and actions as a form of currency. Refer to your lists of the things that are already in line with your desire, and treat these things as sacred. Just imagine that your whole life is a canvas or an altar, and your job is to attract your desire by decking it out in a way that calls to it. Do this every day. Rinse and repeat.
Can achieving your own “un-resolutions” really be this simple? No. Because this is hard to do, but I challenge you to do it anyhow.
Because happiness really is worth it.