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What do you REALLY want?

IMG_2159As I am writing this… I am in heaven… AKA sitting on the couch with my laptop, eating sunflower seeds with my furbabies along with some foster kittens purring by my side. Yeah, this is my heaven… No plans, full belly, and my kids.

Over the past two weeks, I have made an intention to do less. I have blocked off my calendar, stopped taking new clients, no longer accepting teaching solicitations, and turned my phone on silent. Before just recently, the only time that I have not done anything is when I physically can’t because I am sick. I have to say that while it feels pretty empowering to purposely not do anything, it is very uncharacteristic and kind of awkward.

This is new to me… The high expectations are gone. The constant drive is gone. And all the effort is gone.

All that is left is – me.

I have to admit, this intentional downtime was not strategic, but a last ditch effort to try to get what I want.

For the past 18 months or so I have been working full time as a counselor, teaching psychology, finishing up coursework for my PhD, and building an online business. Don’t be impressed. It’s an insane way to live.

I used to run down my list of roles and responsibilities like it was a badge of honor. “Look at how much I can manage everyone!! I’m awesome!” Until I realized that I wasn’t managing very well… I was maxing out my sick leave because I caught a cold every time someone sneezed within a 50 ft radius, had daily headaches, wasn’t sleeping, and wasn’t eating regularly.

From the outside looking in, I was superwoman but on the inside I was hanging on by a thread.

That led me to take a look at why I was doing so much. Yes, I want to help people through counseling and coaching. Yes, I love teaching psychology classes. Yes, I want to contribute to the academic discipline of psychology and obtain my PhD. And, I want to build a successful business that impacts many people’s lives.

But I also REALLY want to have the time and energy to spend with my boo, take vacations, walk my dogs in the park, read an entire book in a weekend, and enjoy adult beverages with my friends. You know… the good life.

The very wise Dolly Parton once said, “Don’t be so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”

I was so busy working on achieving my goals that I forgot about making time to insert happiness, joy, play, and rest into my everyday life. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE researching, working with my clients, and teaching… but its not nourishing in the same way as intentional self-care.

A common misconception of success is that it produces happiness or that all successful people are happy. It’s probably because successful people can buy a closet full of Louboutins, vacation in the Maldives, drive a Porsche, and live in a multimillion dollar home… Who wouldn’t be happy right?

Psychological research argues that the relationship between success and happiness is actually a reverse causal relationship… Being happy creates success! Positive affect (positive emotions like happiness) leads us to approach behaviors that facilitate further success. Positive emotions help people develop positive characteristics, behaviors, and resources that parallel success and the ability to thrive.

Happy individuals are more likely to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health, and a long life.

What I have found time and time again in my work is that when people put achievement before their happiness, once they have achieved, their success is empty and unfulfilling.

So what if we were to start with the end in mind? Danielle LaPorte, the author of The Desire Map had the same idea. Her goal setting method encourages readers to choose their core desired feelings and then do things that bring about those feelings.

Here I am… Taking a break from all of the effort and instead enjoying the fruits of my labor that have brought me to this point. So far I have spent QT with my boo, enjoyed adult beverages with friends, read two books, and taken my dogs for a walk in the park. There are moments when my overachieving self freaks out and exclaims, “What are you doing?! You are wasting time… Do this, Do that!” I kindly reply,  “I can’t right now… I am too busy – living the good life.”

No, I don’t have a PhD, haven’t coached 10,000 people, written a New York Times Bestseller, or have seven figures in the bank… YET.

But I am determined to be as happy now as I will be then.

Until then…

Much happiness!

The picture above is of my foster kittens. Paisley telling her brother, Plaid, he can’t be in the picture! :)


Lyubomirsky, S., King, L., & Diener, E. (2005). The Benefits of Frequent Positive Affect: Does Happiness Lead to Success?. Psychological Bulletin, 131(6), 803-855. doi:10.1037/0033-2909.131.6.803

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