Sunday, April 13, 2008

5 Most Important Things in Life

Here's a fun Sunday evening gchat with a good friend of mine (P in the dialog below). I left in the poor IM grammar for authenticity:

Sent at 9:47 PM on Sunday

P: the top of your head with no thinking...
what are the five most important thinngs to remember in life?

me: 1.discipline and attitude get you everywhere
2. your happiness is the most important thing in life

P: and what creates happiness? quick no thinking

me: living in line with what you want for yourself
um, maybe that wasnt' clear enough...
making things happen that bring you pleasure and meaning
living the life you would want to live

P: gotcha

me: 3. be with people who inspire you and keep you alive
alive = lively

4. you choose your life
5. continuous improvement
btw, i love these kinds of qs :)

me: what would your tip 5 be?
top 5, sorry!

P: ok trying to diversify from your answers, although i think you hit most on the head

P: five most important things in life: 1. This is how you get through everything and anything in life..."show up, stick with it, dont sweat it". 2. you get out what you put in. 3. only you know what is right for you. 4. your gut is always right 5. smiling and laughing makes everything better

It was a great little dialog that only took a few minutes but really capped off the evening positively (and led to a fun blog post!). Being a coach for overachievers, I usually asking these types of questions, so it's nice when my friends keep me on my toes. As I said in the chat with P, I really like these types of questions, so I guess it's good that I'm in this line of work!

What are your 5 most important things in life?

Since I can't gchat with each of you directly, please add your answer in the comments!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Happiness from Spending Money on Others

Science Magazine recently published a study that concludes that spending money on others is a reliable source of happiness for most people. The official abstract and link to the full study can be found here: Spending Money on Others Promotes Happiness and you may have seen a few news articles last month based on this study.
Money can buy happiness, but only if you spend it on someone else, researchers reported on Thursday.

Spending as little as $5 a day on someone else could significantly boost happiness, the team at the University of British Columbia and Harvard Business School found.

Their experiments on more than 630 Americans showed they were measurably happier when they spent money on others -- even if they thought spending the money on themselves would make them happier.

I remember being on a long road trip with a friend of mine. As she came to the first tollbooth, she gave the toll collector double the amount and said she wanted to pay for the person behind her. What? I had never heard of such a thing. Much less ever imagined that it would happen in NYC. As I tried to wrap my mind around this, I thought "How awesome to be the next car in line (especially for the exorbitant Holland or Lincoln Tunnel tolls)!"

This friend of mine said she did it almost every time she went through a toll. My immediate reaction was, "My goodness, that's a lot of money to spend on strangers!" According to her, the benefits of making someone's day was well worth the money:

"It just makes me happy thinking about that person's reaction, even though I'll never see it. It's something simple that makes me happy, makes them happy, and hopefully it'll have a ripple effect where the next people we interact with will benefit from our better mood and be a bit happier themselves."

Next time you're in the cash lane, give it a try and see if you feel happier. Who knows, maybe the person in front of you already paid for you!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Follow Your Dream

It's probably no surprise that as a career coach, I love hearing about people who have chosen to pursue their dreams. But I really enjoy reading about someone who has given up the traditional path to pursue an athletic dream.

From the article last month (3/6/08) in the NY Times, Great Set of Wheels for Olympic Hopeful:
He is 6 feet 4 inches and runs remarkably fast despite being 210 pounds, roughly 40 more than many of the competitors he hopes to join at the Beijing Olympics this summer.

His dream sprang out of nowhere, prompting Robinson to quit a $100,000-a-year sales job so he could train. He left behind a comfortable, normal life for a job in a tire store, driven only by a nagging sense that this is what he is supposed to do.

“I believe I’m going to end up in the Olympics,” Robinson, 25, said. “I don’t know how I’m going to get there. But I guess if the mountain were smooth, you wouldn’t be able to climb it.”

“How come when we’re kids we want to be astronauts and firefighters and Indian chiefs, and then when we turn 20 years old we give up on our dreams?” Young said. “Dallas is a good example of a guy who’s still trying to be an astronaut.”

As a former high-level rugby player, I know how difficult it can be when you're training your butt off, sacrificing a lot in other areas of life, and not really sure if all the work will really get you there.

The same can be said for anyone who makes the difficult decision to take the "road less traveled," athletic or not. Entrepreneurs sacrifice a lot for their budding businesses, students who want to get into a top school will spend weekends studying, aspiring artists will live frugally for years in hopes of making it big.

What I've noticed about people who make the gutsy choice to pursue their dreams usually report the same thing - that "nagging sense that this is something they're supposed to do."
At the outset, there's often an "alternating current" of doubt and drive in the background, but those who have the greatest success are those who let their dream carry them and never look back.

And even if you don't ultimately succeed, you will have tried and that alone is worth so much. Here is one of my favorite quotes along those lines, and it happens to be sports-related as well (you can also find it in my previous post "Leadership Develops Daily"):
“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” - by Theodore Roosevelt

  • What's your dream?