Friday, March 10, 2017

The Road to Happiness: Three Essential Skills

The Road to Happiness: Three Essential Skills

by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.

People who tend to be happy live intentionally with regard to three core happiness skills. They understand that happiness is a choice, rather than a birthright and are committed to practicing these skills on a daily basis. They know exactly what they want, what constitutes their unique version of happiness and are proactive in their happiness journey. Happy people appreciate that happiness is a daily endeavor, rather than a absolute destination. Employing the three essential happiness skills detailed below can empower you to live a life of purpose, direction, passion and authentic happiness.


What makes you happy? On the surface, this seems like a simple question, however, getting to the heart of this question can be quite challenging for most. Why? Getting to the core of what makes you happy requires moving beyond externally generated messages regarding the “shoulds” of happiness and moving to a deeper level of awareness. Authentically answering this question requires honesty, courage and vulnerability. Your answer will greatly inform you about your deepest values, needs and motivators. It may also require letting go of people, possessions and circumstances that don’t align with your unique happiness narrative.


What are you willing to commit to as a means to bringing more happiness into your life? Once you have a working knowledge of your particular version of happiness, commitment enters the picture. Being fully committed to doing whatever it takes to create a fulfilling values-based life provides the requisite motivation and sustenance to move through any challenges that present on your journey. Commitment is rarely a one-time act; it requires returning to the primary question of what makes you happy and periodically reconnecting with your commitment to living a life of meaning and passion.


The skill of self-care is often the most difficult one to embrace; for some it feels selfish to focus on self-care when they have others to think of. Consider, however, the familiar instructions on airplanes where we are asked to put on our own oxygen mask and then take care of our loved ones. What if your happiness directly served to enhance the lives of those you care about? Your level of happiness positively impacts your relationships on a personal and professional basis. I’m not suggesting a life of pure self-focus at the expense of others, however, a lack of self-care will not serve anyone. Self-care is not a one size fits all feat. For some, self-care may include a healthy lifestyle via exercise or diet. For others it may involve hobbies, socializing, being in nature, reading, etc. What matters is that your approach to self-care provides positive benefits to you and others in your personal and professional lives.

Happiness is a choice and a life-long endeavor requiring self-awareness, commitment to doing whatever it takes and intentionality with regard to self-care. What is your unique version of happiness? What are you willing to do to bring more happiness into your life?


For addition insights and observations, check out the following posts:

Are Your SMART Goals Smart Enough?

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Expectations and Next Level Results

by Janet M. Shlaes, Ph.D.

“Checking the results of a decision against its expectations shows executives what their strengths are, where they need to improve, and where they lack knowledge or information.”

~ Peter Drucker

Our expectations provide us with two major functions: the generation of aspirational goals and comparison check points to guide us toward accomplishing these goals. Expectations, when used in a visionary strategic manner, ultimately serve to expand your competence and accelerate your accomplishment of targeted goals. The source of your expectations is critical with regard to using them as a guide and motivator. Externally generated expectations, when not aligned with your core values, can serve to elicit resentment and self/other-sabotage. Internally generated expectations that align with your core-values, tend to result in bold visions and the setting of personally meaningful goals. These goals are then easily translated into realistic ambitious action steps that elegantly lead to your desired vision. An essential aspect of internally generated expectations is the creation of natural "resting places" for evaluating your progress. As detailed in the Peter Drucker quote above, these evaluation moments provide you with essential information regarding adjusting your actions steps, skills and perhaps your entire process.

What personal expectations will you commit to strategically acting on in 2017? Imagine the possibilities for utilizing your expectations to accomplish next level results.


For addition insights and observations, I invite you to check out the following posts:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Resolutions Don't Work

by Janet Shlaes, Ph.D.

Today is the day when many generate New Year’s resolutions that are destined to fail. I track this every year at my local health club. For the first two weeks of January, it’s unbelievably crowded. As the month progresses, the crowds dissipate at an alarmingly (and comforting) rapid rate. This tendency is repeated in a variety of personal and professional arenas as well intended New Year’s Resolutions fall apart. Why, you may ask, does this situation repeatedly occur at this time of year? Resolutions, although well intentioned, tend to be overly ambitious aspirational goals rather than more realistic and pragmatic ones. They tend to focus more on the idealized outcome than on the process of building sustainable outcomes. 

I recommend a highly effective alternative to New Year's resolutions, a process oriented alternative that facilitates the development of habits that align with aspirational goals. This process is known as a 30-Day Challenge. It takes approximately 30 days to develop a new habit, 30-days for your brain to rewire and shift your aspirational goal into your daily routine. Resolutions tend to be unrealistically grand, while 30-Day Challenges focus more on developing habits that support your aspirational goals. Taking on a 30-Day Challenge around health and fitness recognizes that fitness is a process that requires gradually improving your health and strength over time.  For example, if your goal is to improve your fitness level in the current year and you’ve been habitually sedentary in the prior year, your 30-day challenge might be to walk for 15-20 minutes every day for 30 days. Staging your aspirational goal of health and fitness via a 30-Day Challenge results in setting up a structure to increase the probability of success, rather than the likelihood of failure.

The 30-Day Challenge structure utilizes the construct of neuroplasticity to organically restructure your brain. It also facilitates the building of positive self-esteem and appreciation for process. As you stage your aspirational goals via a series of 30-Day Challenges, you will ultimately find yourself accomplishing goals that may have seemed unobtainable in the past. What aspirational goal could you choose to take on as a series of 30-Day Challenges this year?

For addition insights and observations, I invite you to check out the following posts: