If you’re not careful your whole life could be ‘I’ll be happy when…”
When I first heard that statement I was both enlightened and frightened. If I’m honest, it perfectly sums up my greatest fear in life:
Not really living it.
I overthink things. I feel things deeply, both the positive and negative. I compare myself to other people far too often, and I usually don’t come out on top. I know what I want to do. But doing it is a much different story. I get FOMO. And I watch way too much Netflix.
All that adds up to feeling like an observer of my life, and not the lead actor, writer and director all wrapped in one.
Maybe you can relate to some or all those traits. Or maybe your version sounds a bit different.
I’ll be happy when I lose those last 10 pounds. When I feel confident in a bikini. When I get a job. When I quit that job and work for myself. I’ll be happy when I have a boyfriend. A good circle of friends. No, I’ll be happy when I have enough money to do whatever I want.
I’m not writing this because I have mastered or overcome this. They say you teach what you need to learn, so I’m sharing this because I need to hear it too.
I’m turning 30 this year (gulp). And if that’s opened my eyes to one thing, it’s that being happy is a choice. It’s a choice you make every day despite your circumstances, not because of them. There will always be something else you want once you reach a goal. We will never ‘make it’. Once you check off all your boxes, more will appear.
Think about it, you must have reached at least one milestone you once dreamed of. How did it feel? Good, I assume…for a little while. Then eventually you set your sights forward and strive for something more.
So now that you know the game, how do you win? Here’s my strategy.
1. Start small and do it often.
Big change is all about small habits. Losing 20 pounds sounds daunting. Going to yoga 2 times a week (which you happen to love) not so much. Forget about the destination for a minute and focus on the journey. What does being healthy look like to you? If you love yoga or hiking and this vegan spot down the street, start going. You have to learn to love your body despite the flaws you want to fix.
When I knew I had to leave corporate America and do my own thing, I didn’t just quit my job overnight and say F@*$ it. No, I started to do what I wanted to do on the side. And after a few months I asked my boss to work from home (if you don’t ask, the answer is always no). And months later I started my new life with a little more confidence and a safety net in the bank.
Going for walks in the morning, writing for 20 minutes every day, or catching the sunset at the beach. These are examples of small things you can do every day to develop your happiness habit.
2. Practice saying YES!
Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. When I’m in a funk, it can be hard to kick it. You know what they say, ‘an object at rest watching Netflix, stays at rest watching Netflix.’
If you want more out of life you need to flex your happy muscle. Say yes to friend’s invitations. Say yes to group workouts. Say yes to going camping on the weekend. Say yes to anything that sounds like something you wouldn’t do. The universe will give you back what you put out, and if you are busy working, playing and adventuring, guess what you will get more of?
3. Cut the fat.
Why do you do things that make you feel shitty? Stop scrolling social media first thing in the morning if it makes you dread getting up. Let go of toxic friendships. If you don’t like something, don’t do it. The easiest way to be happy isn’t to start doing things that make you happy, it is to stop doing things that don’t. This is as simple as not finishing a book that sucks or as big as quiting a job that makes you miserable. Life is too short to settle for anything. Stop wasting time and energy.
4. Fake it till you make it.
On the surface, this phrase sounds bad. But in practice, it was a game changer for me. If you smile when you don’t feel like it, or put a positive spin on your situation when someone asks, you eventually start to believe it yourself. And isn’t that what happiness is? Being happy with where you are at while working towards where you want to go.
Example: If you want to be a famous yoga teacher, what does that look like to you? You would probably be going to yoga every day, posting pictures on social media with inspiring quotes, teaching classes and sporting the latest yoga styles. Well here’s the secret, you don’t need 100,000 followers to live that life.
Fake it: by starting to do those things right now, no matter if you get 10 likes or 10,000 likes on your posts.
Until you make it: Maybe you will get a clothing sponsor or Yoga Journal will put you on their cover… or maybe you will discover ‘making it’ is more about living that life and not about being famous for doing so.
No one ever feels like they have arrived.
So stop procrastinating and making excuses that ‘you aren’t ready’ or you don’t have what it takes. Because you can do it if you want to. And no one ever really feels ready.
What do you have to lose? Do it now. Be happy now. Because if you’re not careful, your whole life could be “I’ll be happy when…”