According to the 2019 World Happiness Report in the Gallup World Poll, negative feelings are rising around the world showing a widening happiness inequality gap. This trend is particularly strong in Sub-Sahara Africa, Latin America, and Asia in part due to income inequality. The report also showed that negative feelings of worry, sadness, and anger have been on the rise globally by 27 percent from 2010 to 2018.
The pandemic has also proven to exacerbate these emotions. It is widely known that life is about change. The seasons change, human bodies change over time, conditions and situations change– nothing in nature stays the same. You are meant to evolve and change. You are free to choose happiness and change your circumstances to have better outcomes. But it is also quite easy to put your happiness last. You know when something is just not right, feeling it in your bones and in the core of your being. It could be the job, the place you live, the relationship you are in, or situations you find yourself in unexpectedly.
Unhappiness is often experienced when knowing something “must” change. Too often, the choice is to live with your unhappiness while continually going out of your way to make everyone else happy. But what comes from not choosing to do what makes you happy is often blame, bitterness, victimhood, and feeling unworthy. All this anguish because you negotiated under the premise that your happiness is not a priority. Your unhappiness is real, and you are not alone. Choose differently and see your happiness as NON-NEGOTIABLE and not as an afterthought to everything else. Acting on this is the most powerful pivot you can make in your life, business, or career. Your happiness is not controlled by other people and it can begin right now. The choice is yours to identify what happiness means to you.
Do something to achieve it. If you are currently in a state of unhappiness, you do not have to take giant leaps to reach your goal of happiness unless you are ready. They are the size of a tiny mustard
seed. There is nothing wrong with taking small, measurable, and doable steps. Zig Ziglar said, “You don't have to be great at something to start, but you have to start to be great at something." Just continue to nurture that seed with attention, good intention, and action and watch your happiness blossom. This is especially helpful when you are uncertain about what pivot will make you happy. The change is in your strategy not your vision. Do not think of a pivot as a failure but an opportunity. For example, a career pivot could be a change in your industry, skill set, geography, organizational restructure, transition to entrepreneurship or retirement. Whether you choose a giant leap or small steps, there are four actions that are important to ensuring you pivot in the right direction:
1. Diagnose the source of your unhappiness, its impact, and what can be changed. Be specific. It is not the world that is creating your unhappiness. Look both externally (Health: Diabetes/weight insecurities, Spouse: lack of affection/passion, Work: long hours/not feeling appreciated) and internally (Anxiety: feelings of being incapable/ unworthy). Understand why the trigger (problem/situation) is causing you to be unhappy. Without this step, you will fail by pivoting in the wrong direction to reach your goal. Identify what you love and hate about the source for additional clarity.
2. Define what makes you happy, rank how it makes you feel, and note how often you want to have that experience. It is important to know what brings joy, meaning, excitement, energy, or a smile to your life. Once this is known, you can incorporate more of these things. Ensure success is defined clearly and specifically. Be both qualitative and quantitative. For example, if you want to improve your health by losing weight, be specific and ask yourself questions like: How much weight do I want to lose? What is my ideal dress size and how will I feel when wearing it? What kind of attention do I expect? How will it make me feel when walking into and out of the room?
3. Determine Your Barriers to Change: Understand what has been keeping you stuck. Is it a lack of clarity, are your goals too lofty, are you too self-critical, have you forgotten your WHY? What are you focused on that is outside of your control? Shift to what you can control.
4. Plan and Act: Set a plan on how you are going to achieve your happiness goal. Be sure your plan includes the following: your vision for your key life areas, your strategic and tactical approach to achieve it, and a pivot plan to help you redirect as needed. While we live in a world full of opinions, it is important for you to know that your happiness matters and should be in the center of every choice you make.
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.” - Karen Lamb
As featured in Business Day Magazine.