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The 30-Day Happiness Challenge

My fondest childhood memories are hanging out with grandparents.

They were Hal R. and Emma Pearl Bedford, born 1903 and 1904 respectively, who lived in south Mississippi. They had lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and were amazing! My grandfather was the model for any man to pattern his life after, but one of the best pearls of wisdom that I ever received came from my grandmother.

She had three great loves; her family, baking pies, and musicals on TV. I’m not sure that she would have enjoyed Glee, but the old movies were her thing.

Life is a Buffet

I’ll never forget one afternoon when Granddaddy was reading a book, I was enjoying a freshly baked pecan pie, and Grandmother was watching “Auntie Mame,” the 1958 musical starring Rosalind Russell.  The story is about an orphan who goes to live with his free-spirited aunt. Grandmother quoted a line from the movie, “Life’s a buffet and most poor suckers are starving to death!” She pointed out the truth in that statement and added that “each day is a gift and it’s up to you what you do with it.”

Ever since that day I have tried to follow Grandmother’s advice and never waste my daily gift. I remember that advice often when I hear people complain about everything, or they just always seem unhappy. I don’t see how anyone can enjoy success while being unhappy.

Unhappiness is a Choice

There seem to be three reasons why some people are unhappy.

First, they don’t feel healthy or are not happy with how they feel or look. 

Second, they don’t have a good perspective on life. They seem to feel alone and burdened with having to care for everything on their own shoulders.

Third, they are just overwhelmed by life and need to get organized.

One or more of these obstacles seem to be in most people’s way to success.

Imagine life as a three-legged stool. If you’re missing a leg or that leg is too weak to support you, then you’ll fall. Put another way, to be competitive in basketball, a player must be a triple treat. A triple-threat player has the skills to dribble, pass, or shoot. If he is not able to perform one of these skills, he is very limited in his play time and usefulness to the team. A successful player must practice, practice, practice to be proficient at all three.

The same goes for life.

Maximizing Your Gift

The gift that you have been given needs three things from you to be maximized.

First, you must feel good about yourself. How can you feel good about others and treat them the way you should if you don’t feel good about yourself? Most people just fake their way through.

Second, you need to understand that you are not alone. There is something greater than you and you are just part of the world, not responsible for it.

Third, if you are going to reach a goal, you must first know what it is. Most people do what Zig Ziglar warned us against: “Ready, Fire, Aim.” How can we hit a target that we never aim begin with? Therefore, we must plan out our day.

The infamous “They” tell me that if you commit to something for 30 days, it becomes a habit. The truth is that practice does not make perfect but, practice does make permanent. Good or bad, we are what we practice.

If you are practicing any of the three unhappiness patterns above, I challenge you to plan to practice something different.

A Happiness Challenge

That’s why I have pulled together the 30-Day Happiness Challenge.

It is a 30-day process designed to encourage you in all three areas. Let’s call them views: inward, upward, and outward. Once we have improved our view, we can hit the target of success.

Let me explain the different views.

Inward

The Inward view sounds very simple. Commit to 20 minutes of exercise each morning, before anything else. Before checking my email, before turning on the ESPN or Fox News, before checking in on Facebook or Twitter. you are anything like me, you check your email first thing, then you watch the news and drink the first of many cups of coffee for the day.

-It has been said that email is a list of other people’s needs. For the 30-Day Challenge, set aside this time for you and your needs. If you don’t take care of yourself, it becomes more difficult to take care of others. We all know that if you bike, walk or run around the neighborhood you’ll begin to feel healthier. Buy a treadmill or do aerobics.

If you are physically able, then like the Nike slogan says: just do it. For a guy like me with a bad back, this is a big commitment. Try documenting your exercise in a Happiness Challenge notebook. We all know that if you don’t write it down, it may never happen.  The great thing about recording your exercise is that you’ll see your progress.

Upward

The Upward view helps to put life into perspective. It is also important to know that we are not alone; that there is One greater than us. Choose an inspiring book, daily devotional, or some other reading that reassures you.

During my 30-Day Happiness Challenge, I have chosen short readings from the book of Palms. Spending a few minutes each morning being reminded that there is someone I can always depend upon is a great start to the day. I want you to notice that you have still not opened your computer, checked your smartphone, or turned on Sports or the News.

Outward

The third view is Outward. Too often we find ourselves with the day in charge of us, rather than taking control of the day.

To truly aim for a successful day, you must have a plan. Follow this plan with the 30-Day Happiness Challenge and see how it helps you focus on your pipeline and how to move each of your prospects closer to a decision. If you’re a project manager, adjust to plan out your tasks; if you’re a programmer, adjust to plan out your backlog.

The point is for you to plan your day around the things you need accomplish, rather than letting the day come at you and simply fighting fires.

First, make an old fashion T-graph. Just because its’ “old school,” does not make it bad. Label the right-hand column, “Pipeline” or “Projects” depending on your needs. Then list your top prospects, projects, or tasks one through ten or so in the right-hand column.

Now that you have listed your top opportunities label the left-hand column “W.I.N.” W – Who or What are you waiting on, I – who do you need to Include to move the process forward, and N – what do you Need to do to complete the task. Once the left column is labeled, the next step is for each opportunity in your “Pipeline” list a corresponding task in your “WIN” column. Such as: “Waiting on information, Include Steve on next call, or Need to complete the proposal.”

What you end up with is a task list to WIN the Pipeline by moving your prospect forward and helping you complete your 30-Day Happiness Challenge.

Click here to download the W.I.N the Day worksheet.

Life is a Buffet

Don’t just sit there starving. Get up and enjoy the banquet. Make Grandmother proud.

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Good Luck,

Thom