“Breakfast quiche,” said one customer.
“I’ll have the ham and cheese croissant,” said the next customer.
Following each food order the clerk asked “Do you want that for here or to go?”
Over and over he asked the same question, “Do you want that for here or to go?”
That’s when it hit me.
We answer that question everyday when we make decisions about our lives.
Now or never?
Daily we make choices about pursuing this or that goal or dream, or delaying for some future time.
Unlike deciding to eat a croissant later, however, pushing our goals into the future may result in running out of time and never accomplishing them.
In a Reader’s Digest article years ago a woman shared how she and her husband longed to take a trip around the world. Not wanting to go into debt to pay for the trip, they decided to save the money for their trip so they could travel worry-free.
Year after year, they socked away money in their dream vacation account. After ten years they agreed that they had saved enough and eagerly made reservations to embark on their trip.
One week before they were to leave, the husband died of a massive heart attack.
As the wife grieved her loss, she deeply regretted that they had not made that trip earlier even if it meant taking years to pay it off.
She wrote the article to warn us to not delay our dreams.
How to get happiness for here
Have you delayed a dream, a goal, or a desire until the time, circumstances or money are right?
There’s nothing wrong with setting goals, making plans, and dreaming dreams.
Unfortunately, there is seldom a right time other than now.
The problem is not acting on our goals or dreams immediately, even if we only take small steps.
“Many people think that if they were only in some other place, or had some other job, they would be happy. Well, that is doubtful. So get as much happiness out of what you are doing as you can and don’t put off being happy until some future date.” — Dale Carnegie
If you are ready to get your happiness here and now, here are three ways to do it.
1. Give yourself permission.
We are often our worst enemies since we stage a war with ourselves in our heads. If you find yourself hesitating to start toward a goal, you are afraid of success or failure.
You are definitely concerned about whether you deserve the wonderful things you imagine.
Maybe you are worried about what other people think or waiting for approval from others before you start.
We all want the best for those we love. So learn to love yourself. Then give this amazing person called “you” permission to do, be, and embrace whatever makes you happy.
2. Find out what you really want.
This may sound simple on the surface, but discovering what we want requires research and exploration. We often judge what we want by the fun others seem to be having with it.
You may think, for example, that you would enjoy living in a quaint cabin in the woods where you could spot a deer now and then, off the main road miles away from the nearest shopping center and city noise.
Explore this first by daydreaming the way you did as a child.
Sit quietly and imagine yourself in the place, situation or experience you think you want.
Then check with your feelings.
If you feel elated, energized and excited, you are on the right track.
If, on the other hand, if visualizing yourself having what you think you want makes you feel heavy, nervous and uneasy, your feelings are warning you that pursuing this goal doesn’t hold the happiness you seek.
In addition to visualizing, here’s another idea.
Before you pull up your city roots, give this tranquil life a test drive in the form of a vacation, a visit or a short stay. While this living style may be very appealing from the comfort of a movie theater seat, it may not be what you really would enjoy in its entirety once you’re there long term.
3. Gather the resources to help you reach your goals.
Once you decide what you really want, it’s time to line up the people, information and tasks that will help you achieve your goal. When I decided to write my book, Color Your Life Happy, here are a few steps that helped me reach my goal:
- Read or heavily skimmed the major books, articles and blogs in the happiness field
- Bought a laptop
- Attended a Positive Psychology conference to learn from researchers what findings they had discovered
- Hired a life coach
- Hired a publishing coach
- Changed my main workspace to my living picture window where I could get light.
- Visited the library and bookstores sometimes to browse, sometimes to write in a different environment
- Set up a writing schedule
- Attended a publishing institute where I met other authors actively involved in the writing process
- Joined Toastmasters to work on speaking skills
- Joined an Internet marketing group to learn more about promoting my book
- Made notes on my experiences and observations on vacations and trips away from home
In addition to taking these and many other actions, I also had to accept my flaws and shortcomings.
I accessed inner resources such as prayer, meditation, and exercise to help me
- fight procrastination
- bolster my confidence
- resist distractions
Without condemning myself for not being perfect, I accepted my limitations and weaknesses and got help with overcoming them.
No one of these tasks got my book done by itself. Each one played a part in moving from idea to successful completion.
It’s certainly up to you whether you want to have your dream life or happiness now or for another lifetime.
I urge you to try the steps I’ve shared if you want to choose happiness for here and now.
Have you ever caught yourself putting off going for a goal or delaying a dream?
Or perhaps you resisted the urge to do so, and went after a dream even though outside circumstances didn’t seem just right.
In any case, share in the comments what happened.
This post is based on one I wrote in Jan. 5, 2010.