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The One Question You Must Answer for a Life Full of Happiness and Fulfillment

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When you see very passionate people in business, education, or religious life you may wonder where that level of passion comes from. They can rant across the stage and we all, in rapt attention, follow their every movement and take notes on every word they say. These people exude passion and the radiate enthusiasm.

But passion is not manifested, it is derived. Individuals who’ve reached the top of their field do so because of two reasons: They have found the underlying, nonnegotiable objective of their life and they have pursued that objective with unbridled abandon. The pursuit of that nonnegotiable objective is what we as outsiders see as passion.

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

In my consultancy over the years I have dealt with many effective but emotionally unhappy and unsatisfied individuals. The reason for their effectiveness is they were earning a great deal of money, loved their lifestyle, and felt a purposeful necessity to support themselves and their family. The reason for their unhappiness is that they were in a position that was not congruent with their nonnegotiable objective in life.

In other words, they wanted to be doing something else. However, they felt trapped. That trapped feeling showed itself in resentment toward work, peers, spouse children, etc. It also showed up in ill health, substance abuse, self-medicating, etc.

I know an individual who acquiesced his desire to become a classical guitarist so that he could pursue a career in engineering. I know another individual whose passion was teaching children but, at the insistence of his father became an accountant instead. Both of these individuals were effective in their jobs, content with their lot in life, but were fundamentally unhappy because they were not pursuing their ultimate dream and desire.

Over six decades ago Earl Nightingale suggested that he can help any person get what they want out of life, the problem is most people don’t know what they want. In over half a century, the same holds true. We simply do not know what we want. The reason? It is less painful not to think about it!

So, I have a question for you. This question may require some days of contemplation, or the answer may jump at you all at once. In either case, happiness, fulfillment and well-being is contingent upon the proper answer to this question:

What is the one true purpose of your life that will bring total happiness and fulfillment if you are able to pursue that purpose every day?

Simple, huh? I am not suggesting that this is an easy question to answer, I am saying that it is vital to answer if you want happiness and fulfillment. When you do what you love, everything else kind of falls into place.

Here a few steps you can take to answer that question:

Step 1: To start, take off the judge’s robe! Don’t be critical of yourself and don’t rationalize why you can’t do what it is that you want to do. If you find yourself saying, “That’s silly,” or, “I can’t do that,” or “I’m too young (old, rich, poor, smart, dumb”, whatever), stop it before you start this exercise.

Step 2: Ask yourself as honestly as you can, what is it that gets your heart racing. Now be honest, is it mountain climbing? Drag racing? Dressing in drag? Standup comedy? Running a multinational company? It doesn’t much matter the WHAT, because it is your WHAT!

“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

Step 3: Can your heart pumping desire be monetized? In other words, can you make money on it? If the answer is no, then it is a great hobby, if the answer is yes, now you have a decision to make.

Step 4: Do I want to invest the time, effort and money in making this dream grow skin? Is it worth the risk? If the answer is no, then stop whining about it because you basically told yourself that this is something cool to think about but not go head over heels with. If the answer is yes, then figure out how to minimize the risk while getting others sold on your new mindset.

Step 5: Prepare yourself, don’t go into this foolishly. Have enough money saved and have the emotional buy in from others involved.

There you have it. Answer that question and move toward the fulfilment of your dreams. Is it really that simple? Yes. Is it really that easy? That is up to you.

Image courtesy of Twenty20.com

Biagio Sciacca, known to his friends as Bill, was a lifelong resident of Pittston, PA. He is the owner of Intelligent Motivation, Inc. a global consulting and training firm specializing in management and leadership training as well as psychological assessment for hiring and staff development. He is the author of several books relating to goal setting, and his third book, Provocative Leadership, is publishing soon. Now residing in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, he divides his time between his international coaching and training clients, writing his next book and wandering aimlessly on the beach. Feel free to contact Bill at bill@intelligentmotivationinc.com or schedule a call with him by going to www.intelligentmotivationinc.com and clicking on the “set up a call” tab.

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The 3 Types of Confidence You Need to Know and Understand

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We’ve all heard it before, confidence is everything. Those that seem to have it, have it all. They, themselves, are not necessarily perfect human beings, but they seemingly have the charisma to attract whatever they want in life. (more…)

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3 Simple Tips to Strengthen Your Emotional Intelligence for Better Relationships

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Relationships are challenging. They make you examine yourself from all angles, and that can be triggering. For example, have you ever had a friend or significant other say something that sparked an argument instantly—only to find out you misheard what they said in the first place? (more…)

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If You Want to Avoid Failure Once and for All, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

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You just invested in yourself and in your business. You are taking massive action but the results are just not clicking yet. While everyone is making 10X, 20X, and even 100X ROI on their initial investment, you have made $0 return. Failure is starting to overcast your bright shining positive attitude and you are feeling the pain and shame of it. (more…)

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3 Simple Hacks That Can Recharge Your Willpower and Help You Perform Better at Work

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How many times did you wake up feeling like you could conquer the world? You set ambitious goals for the day, you put on your best attire and walked out the door with a big smile on your face but eventually, life took over. Traffic, emails, work, family, and everything else you have around slowly but steadily started to drain your energy and made you feel exhausted.

You run out of battery, and the only solution that seemed viable was to rely on more caffeine. When that stopped working, all the temptations around you started to look much more appealing, and that sense of drive and commitment you had before slowly faded away. This is you running out of willpower.

Willpower: what is it? Why is it limited?

The American Psychology Association describes willpower as “the ability to resist short-term temptations in order to meet long-term goals.” In the book “The Willpower Instinct”, Dr. Kelly McGonigal, explains how every person’s willpower is limited, and slowly depletes throughout the day. The more “willpower challenges” you face, the quicker your reserve drains. Dr. McGonigal divided the different types of willpower challenges you might encounter in three categories:

  • I will: We face this type of challenge whenever we should do something, but we simply don’t feel like getting it done right now.
  • I won’t: We face this challenge when we try to resist temptation, or we try to keep cool in stressful situations.
  • I want: This is a particular type of challenge where we keep track of our long term goals, dreams, and desires. In this instance, we feel like we should take action right now to come one step closer to the goal. 

It’s easy to recognize it when you face a willpower challenge because you literally “feel it in your body.” Imagine being really hungry and walking in front of a bakery. The sight and the smell of pastries quickly triggers an “I won’t” type of challenge, and it takes a severe amount of effort and energy to walk away.

Every time you manage to win one of those challenges, a little bit of your willpower reserve gets used. The more challenges you face daily, the harder it will be to stay true to your goals.

Can you train or recharge your willpower?

A growing body of research suggests that willpower should be considered a muscle. To strengthen it, you should exercise it regularly, but you should not overwork it. Therefore, we shouldn’t try to “be good” at all times. Instead, we should learn how to relax and recharge our willpower.

The general advice on how to improve willpower involves sleep, proper nutrition, and regular exercise. This broad and general recommendation is often not downright applicable by most, because it consists of changing various daily habits. Luckily, three very effective hacks have been discovered, that have an immediate effect on our willpower and take just a few minutes to apply.

Here are the 3 ways to refill your willpower reserves:

1. Focused breathing

Breathing, when done correctly, can stimulate the release of calming hormones while reducing the release of stress hormones like cortisol and catecholamines. To make this effective, you should deeply and slowly inhale through the nose for at least five seconds. Fill your belly with air first, then your chest, and when there’s no more space for air, still try to do tiny inhalations through the nose.

You should feel a pulling sensation around your neck and trapezius muscles. Once your lungs are full, try to hold the breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for at least five seconds. If you repeat this process ten to twenty times, you should feel dramatically more relaxed. Use this method several times a day, especially when you’re experiencing high levels of stress or anxiety.

2. Reward yourself when you accomplish a micro goal

According to a recent study, frequent instant rewards can boost motivation, and therefore, willpower. Creating your own reward system can help you to accomplish your to-do list, and also resist temptations. Since every individual has different tastes, you should come up with creative ideas about the small and frequent rewards you will give yourself upon winning any willpower challenge.

You can see this hack in practice in Apps like the popular Duolinguo, where after completing each lesson you get presented with a chance to open a treasure chest. This rewarding system seems to keep the users much more likely to keep learning new lessons.

3. Taking cold showers

Your body has an autonomic response to cold water. Getting into a cold shower is a difficult (but minor) willpower challenge on its own. As I previously mentioned, winning a willpower challenge strengthens your willpower muscle. Having a morning cold shower, on top of having multiple health benefits, will set you up for a positive winning streak of further challenges.

High performance is the sum of many small habits. Successful people don’t have an unlimited reserve of willpower, but they do have a set of daily rituals that made them succeed. These three hacks are some of the most effective techniques to develop willpower, but some of them may not fit every individual. You should try to find the perfect mix of daily practices that best fits your lifestyle and likes, so that you can strengthen your willpower muscle and perform better at work.

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