We tend to put a lot of pressure on ourselves at this time of year. We think we'll be happy when we've sorted everything out - the new job, the DIY, paperwork, the new kitchen and so on.
We think that we'll somehow be more contented when we've discovered our purpose, won a million or retired somewhere warm and sunny.
We are consistently on a treadmill striving for more, better, more, better!
There is, of course, no doubt that achieving our goals and endeavours brings a great sense of satisfaction and achievement. It feels great. But the high doesn't last long and before too long our attention has turned to yet another goal we must attain in order to feel happy.
The cycle continues.
As a writer, coach and mentor, setting goals is at the very core of my business, yet when we're too goal-focused, we lose sight of the simple pleasures and miss the miracles that life has to offer.
I'd like to open up a totally new approach to the coming year.
My approach is simple.
Follow your joy.
Rather than setting yourself a myriad of unattainable and quite frankly draining goals, how about making your sole purpose this year to simply indulge in the things that bring you pleasure in life?
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist from the University of Chicago, studied thousands of people to discover what makes our lives meaningful and satisfying. From his research he wrote a book called Flow - which he describes as a narrowing of attention, a sense of being absorbed and a feeling of transcendence.
Anything can lead to flow and joy, playing a game, listening to music, reading a romantic novel, cooking new recipes, tinkering on your classic car, digging in the soil, playing with your grandkids, dancing, having coffee with your best friend, sitting in the beauty of your garden. But it must be an activity that you adore.
One of my clients found that by listening to her favourite music each evening after work significantly altered her mood. Within just a week she felt calmer, happier and was more inspired with new ideas. Her whole family started to notice a change in her demeanour. This one small change greatly improved my client's overall wellbeing and happiness.
When we find our flow, when we follow our joy, we are truly living a happy, full and more meaningful life. It really isn't about achieving huge goals, having a million in the bank or finding the love of our life.
Our primary focus must be to simply pursue our joy right now. Don't wait for someone or something to complete you, because it never will.
So my message is this.
Enjoy the small pleasures that life has to offer, rather than waiting to achieve some far-out goal.
Your happiness is closer than you think.
Time for action!
List ten things you really love to do that put you in a state of flow (from playing with your dog, reading a great novel, playing the guitar, and baking cupcakes or playing your favourite sport).
Here are some clues when you know you're in flow:
• You are drawn to doing these activities when you have any spare time
• You feel great once you've done them
• They make you really content and happy
• You lose all sense of time
• They are things you wish you had more time to do given the opportunity
Make it your intention to find your flow and follow your joy this year and watch the miracles unfold. Enjoy.
Wishing you all a fabulous 2013.
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