Are you putting your happiness on hold?

Break the “when I, then I’ll” habit and get happier now

Eiffel-Tower-at-Night-Full-ViewAh, Paris…. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, walks along the Seine. And of course, the food and wine!

For years, I’ve been dreaming about taking the trip of a lifetime to the City of Light. But year after year, my trip got postponed. I always found plausible reasons to delay. I told myself….

  • When I get the kids launched, then I’ll have time for me.
  • When I pay off the house, then I’ll spend money on myself.
  • When I retire, then I’ll have freedom to travel.

Does this “when I, then I’ll” conversation sound familiar? My hunch is that it does. And sadly the dreams and goals you keeping delaying, often get lost along the way.

I realized that when it came to Paris, I was putting my happiness on hold by not taking any action. Here’s what I learned that has me having fun right now and flying to France in September.

Step one: Decide. What do you really want? Often it isn’t the trip, the corner office or the new wardrobe that brings happiness. It’s how you imagine you’ll feel when you have it. I was tired of talking about my travel adventure and not doing it. Once you decide what you want, make it a priority

Step two: Find the feeling. How will you feel when you achieve your goal? I wanted to feel free, adventurous and alive. How do you imagine you’ll feel when you achieve your goal? Look for places in your life where you’re already experiencing these feelings.

Step three: Take small steps. Leaping tall buildings in a single bound like Superman can be so intimidating that you never get off the ground. When you take continuous action in small bites, you make steady progress and build momentum. Financing the whole trip right away was a stretch, but starting a Paris fund got me closer to buying that plane ticket.

Step four: Expand your happiness. You don’t have to earn it and there is no limit on how much you can have. What experiences can you add to your life now that give you the feelings you expect from achieving your goal? I started feeling more adventurous and alive as I happily began tasting French wines, reading books about Paris and viewing impressionist art.

Step five: Enjoy the ride. Yes, after years of dreaming it, I’ll actually be doing it (!) when I land in Paris this fall. But the biggest ah-ha of all? I didn’t have to postpone my happiness while I waited for my dream to come true. I had – as the French would say – that joie de vivre inside me all along.

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