In a recent session, I asked a client what her life would look like if she were happy. This is a question to get people thinking about how would they know if they were happy and what they need to get there. If you want to change, if you want to be happier, if you want to live your best life, you need to know what that looks like. So what do you want?
First, stop focusing on what you don’t want.
You know you are unhappy and dissatisfied. You can easily name what you don’t want or what you would like to have gone but what do you want more of? What do you want in your life that’s not already there? Dig into what you do want. Take the time to imagine yourself happy and satisfied. Imagine you wake up with energy, looking forward to your day, happy to see the faces of the people around you. How would you know if you were happy and satisfied? What would it feel like? What do you notice in your body when you're fulfilled and joyful? Knowing how you feel is another skill, more on that later.
Get specific about the details.
What would look different if you were happy? Would you have a job you felt stimulated by and engaged in? Would you have a caring and supportive social support system? Maybe you’d have time for that yoga class or vacation. Really use your imagination and sit with this image. Write it down, make a vision board or a Pinterest Board. As a visual person, these are things I do personally. If you know you are unhappy at work and want another job, think about what job activities and tasks you enjoy. Notice which tasks make you feel tired and drained and which ones excite and energize you. Research some job titles and imagine yourself dressed for that job, leaving in the morning, going to do that work. Think about what tasks do you work on. Would your paychecks be bigger? How would you spend that extra cash? Would you get to travel more (or less)? Think about what you would do with your extra time if you had greater flexibility in your schedule. Ask yourself what things make you happy now. Spend some time thinking about those things and be curious about why they make you feel that way. Sit with it, get familiar with it, and flesh it out.
Start taking action.
Come up with a few small and specific action steps you can take today to put this into action. Start living it now. I work with clients at my Portland, Maine counseling practice to define how they want their lives to look and feel and to start identifying actions steps to get them there. Once you know how you want it to look, you can break it down to smaller steps to work on each day to get you there. Click here for more information about the counseling and coaching services I offer.