There’s a lot of pressure today to “live the dream” but what does that mean really? You know if you’re absolutely *not* doing it… but how do you even know if you are doing it? Based on more than a decade of coaching and 40+ years of personal experience I think living the dream is clearer than it seems at first glance. It borders on formulaic. In fact, I can lay out the framework for you in the length of this blog.
The first step in living the dream is knowing what you value / what makes you happy. There’s no point in living someone else’s dream. I can tell you for certain that unless you’re one of those rare completely typical people whose values 100% line up with societal values that living a dream based on societal values will not be satisfying. Rather, you need to get in touch with what makes you tick.
A great exercise in getting in touch with your values is to first make a big list of times in your life when you’ve been really happy and satisfied. Don’t limit yourself to graduations and weddings… you can include times you’ve been really satisfied in school, on the job, in relationships etc. Take some time to make this list. You want to make sure your list is expansive, not just the few things that are on the top of your mind. Then take each one of those things and dissect it for why you found that item so satisfying. You will end up with a list of mini-lists. Once you’ve done that you look through that list for trends. So, if you have 100 items and many of them include “being out in nature” or “family time” or “winning” than you are starting to see the values that are dominant for you. Make a list of these values and use it as a guide for assessing future opportunities.
The next step is to compare your life goals to your values and see how well aligned they are. If they are well aligned then accomplishing your goals should lead you to a world where you are living the dream. If you find that the list of your values doesn’t match up with a some of your goals then you may want to assess why you want to achieve that goal and whether or not that is a good goal for you.
The last bit is pretty critical too. You need to do the actions that support these values. Having a goal, knowing what will make you happy does you no good if you don’t put all of this into action and continue to push forward making choices that are supported by your values and following up with action to get you to your goals.
So, getting in touch with your values, making choices based on them, and acting accordingly is the first half of the “living the good life” equation. The other half is perspective. You need to choose how you see your world. There may always be some niggling details in your life that irritate you. But if you have the big pieces in alignment then you can remind yourself that your life is good. Gain strength from the knowledge that you’ve built a great deal of satisfaction into your life. Reduce the irritants to the level they deserve, then address them.
If you get good at perspective taking you can better manage your level of overwhelm, increase your self esteem, and live a more satisfying life.
So, there you have it, the overall framework for living the good life. I’m publishing a blog next week on how I put this to work in my own life.