The HAPPINESS INTERVIEW from Sam Horn's SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week

Do you know your happiness history?

Have you ever had an opportunity to verbally explore what’s contributed to your happiness - what’s not?

These ten questions are an opportunity to do that.

Just as you did with the Happiness Quiz, it’s important to express how you really feel. It doesn’t do anyone any good to give a press release that tiptoes around the truth.

You might want to print this out and take it and a trusted friend or family member to lunch.

Agree to interview each other so each person has the luxury of going deep into their answers. This gives the interviewee an opportunity to immerse themselves in an uninterrupted stream-of-consciousness where they’re free to give thorough answers.

Some people are reluctant to talk for a “long time” if they’re not not sure the other person wants to hear the whole story. This is a chance to delve into this important topic with a supportive listener. (It can be their turn next time.)

Call that friend or family member right now to to schedule your Happiness Interview. This is a gift you’re giving each other.

Please note: your interviewer doesn’t have to be in the same city. You can do this virtually.

I know two sisters from the East and West Coast who interviewed each other by phone. They said it was one of the most meaningful conversations they’ve had in years. “No one knows me better than my sister. We realized that some of the things our parents did with the best of intentions really backfired. They never complained about what was wrong in their life. That was noble but my sister and I have taken that to an extreme by pretending things are okay even when they’re not. We’re going to change that from now on. ”

Okay, ready to begin?  Ready, set, respond.

1.      On a scale of 1 – 10, how happy are you overall right now? Why? Who and what is contributing to your happiness?  Who and what is causing you to be unhappy?  Explain.

2.      What was your family like growing up? What was modeled for you? Were your parents happy together as a couple, as individuals? What did that teach you about marriage - about being a parent? Were you a happy kid? Why or why not? How about your siblings? Did you get along? How did your upbringing affect your perceptions of happiness? How does it continue to impact you now?

3.      Fill in this sentence, “If it weren’t too late, I’d _________ (what? Travel more? Start my own business?  Search for my soul mate? Write a book? Go back to college? Why do you believe it’s too late?  Is that true?

4.      Who is someone you know who is happy? What is it about them that makes you say that? Why do you think they are happy? Be specific.

5.       “If I could, I would let go of ___________?  Why are you keeping this in your life? What’s preventing you from releasing, quitting, getting rid of, cleaning or clearing that up?

6.      Finish this sentence, “Money is ____” How would you describe your financial situation now? Do you have enough money now? How about when you retire? How much do you need/want? Do you ever worry about money? What role does money play in your ability to be happy?

7.      Let’s talk about your body. Are you fit, vital, physically active, sick, in pain? On a scale of 1-10, how happy are you with your health now? Do you have guilt, shame or anxiety around your body? How so? How are you beliefs and behaviors around your health impacting your quality of life? 

8.     Do you like your job? On a scale of 1-10, how fulfilled are you by your work? What do you like about it? What don’t you like about it? Are you in the right career, company, industry? What would you rather be doing? What role does work play in your happiness? Explain your answer.

9.      Think about the people in your personal and professional life ad their impact on your happiness.

a.       Professional life: Do you like, enjoy and respect who you work with, for and around?  If so, how so? Who is someone in particular who supports you, mentors you, encourages you, stretches you? If you aren’t happy with the people you work with, for or around, who in particular is undermining your happiness.? What are they doing to bring you down?

b.      Personal life:  Do your significant others (family members, spouse, friends, neighbors) support your happiness? If so, how so? What is one person in particular who makes you happy? What is one specific way they do that? If the people around you aren’t supporting your happiness, what’s a specific example of how they’re blocking you, criticizing you, doubting you or otherwise causing you to be unhappy?

10.  Have you ever had a calling, a dream or passion project? Something you felt you were born to do?If so, what was it? Did you pursue it? If so, how did that turn out for you? If not, why not?  

What to Do AFTER Your Happiness Interview

“The life you’ve led doesn’t need to be the only life you have.” – Anna Quindlen

Many people tell me this Happiness Interview was an unexpectedly profound experience.

A Milennnial named Jack told me, “I never really thought about all the different moving parts of happiness. These questions helped me see that relationships, work, money, health, my upbringing, my dreams … all play a role in whether or not I’m happy. The question is, what do I do now?”

I smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked that. That’s what the Ten Life Hacks in the book are for. They provide a step-by-step process that can help you create the quality of life you want, need and deserve.” 

He asked, “What are the Ten Life Hacks?”


LIFE HACK 1:  EVALUATE Your Happiness History

LIFE HACK 2:  GENERATE a Today, Not Someday Dream

LIFE HACK 3:  ABDICATE Uutdated Beliefs and Behaviors

LIFE HACK 4:  INITIATE Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

LIFE HACK 5:  CELEBRATE What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

LIFE HACK 6:  AFFILIATE with People Who Have Your Back and Front

LIFE HACK 7:  INTEGRATE Your Passion and Profession  

LIFE HACK 8:  NEGOTIATE for What You Want, Need and Deserve

LIFE HACK 9:  INNOVATE a Fresh Start

LIFE HACK 10:  RELOCATE to Greener Pastures

Each of the Life Hacks has its own section in the book with stories, exercises and action steps that can help you design your days so they’re more meaningful and purposeful. And as Annie Dillard said, “How we live our days is, of course, how we live our lives.”

Once you’ve talked through the Happiness Interview, you might wonder like Jack did, “Now what?”

The prescriptive steps in the remaining chapters can help you figure out what you can do on a daily basis to make the rest of your life the best of your life.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of The INTRIGUE AGENCY, is the author of POP! , Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? which have been featured in New York Timess, on NPR, and presented to National Geographic, NASA, Intel, Cisco, ASAE. this is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week which was endorsed by Sheri Salata (former Exec. Producer of the Oprah Winfrey Show) who calls Sam “one of the most bright lights and most accessible wisdom-sharers in our culture today.”

The HAPPINESS BOX from Sam Horn's SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week Book

“My happiness is on me, so you’re off the hoook.” - Esther Hicks

It has been wonderful hearing back from people how helpful the Happiness Box has been in helping them identify what they want MORE of and LESS of in their life - and what they’re going to do about it.

As promised in the Audible recording of the SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week book, we wanted to provide a sample template here on the Intrigue Agency website so you can print it out, fill it out and share it with others..

You might want to print out SEVERAL copies and take them to a meal with friends and family so you can discuss your answers together.

Many people have told me that doing this led to one of the most meaningful conversations they’ve had in a long time about what’s working in their life, what’s not, and what they’re going to do to change their life for good - now, not later. After all, NOW is the new LATER.

This Happiness Box is based on this premise: Many of us are responsible to a fault. We’re so busy taking care of everyone else, we’re not taking care of ourselves. We put everyone else’s needs first, our own last.

That’s a prescription for stress, burnout and regret.

Please understand, it’s not selfish to identify ONE THING that would put the light on in your eyes and to make time for it each week, it’s SMART.

Here's how the Happines Box works.

Have you ever played a word-association game where someone says a word and you’re supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind?

For example, if I say, "Hawaii," you might say "Beach." If I say "Dog," you might say "Cat." If I say “Soup,” you might say, “Sandwich.”

The goal of this exercise is to write down whatever comes up when asked the following questions.

No second-guessing what wants to be said. Gut responses are usually the most honest and that's the goal.

This is an opportunity to surface priorities, dreams or resentments you might have been hiding, ignoring or denying because they weren't "nice" or "politically correct" or “feasible” to admit.

The beautiful thing is, there is no mystery to how you can lead a more fulfilling life. This will give you the answers to your Happiness Test.

If you have the courage to write down how you really feel, you will know what needs to be done to bring your life more into alignment with your true priorities so you’re leading a life that leads to results, not to regrets.

Sam Horn’s Happiness Box

Happiness Quiz.jpg

Got your pen handy? Ready, set, start answering these questions in the appropriate square.

Square 1: “What are you DOING in your life that you WANT TO?” Walking your dog every morning? Having date night with your partner? Living in a city with lots to do? Doing meaningful work? Listening to podcasts?

Square 2: “What are you NOT DOING in your life that you WANT TO?” Not exercising or working out? Not getting enough sleep? Not spending time with friends? Not traveling or doing a favorite hobby? Not dating, having sex or meeting your soul mate?

Square 3: “What are you DOING in your life you DON’T WANT TO?”  Working 60 hours a week? Over-eating? Spending too much time on social media? Watching too much TV? Arguing or fighting with someone?

Square 4: “What are you NOT DOING in your life and you DON’T WANT TO?” Yes, this is a double negative. It’s important though because it identifies unhealthy, unwanted behaviors you've quit and are successfully keeping out of your life. Maybe you used to smoke or commute, you don’t anymore, and you never want to again. Maybe there was a toxic person in your life and you no longer spend time with him/her.

When you’re finished, circle your responses in Square 1 and 4.

Those are what I call your “Bill of RIGHTS.” They are what’s “right” with your life. They are contributing to your quality of life.

Be sure to protect what’s in Box 1. Schedule these activities into your calendar. Do not compromise them or let them slide out of your life when you get busy. They are the cornerstone to liking yourself and your life.

Be sure to keep out what’s in Box 4. Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever really goes away until it teaches us what we need to learn.”

These are your lessons-learned. You have successfully removed these toxic activities or individuals from your life. Don’t let them creep back in.

Circle your answers in Square 2 and 3. That's what’s “wrong” with your life. That is what is compromising your quality of life.

Please note: none of us are perfect so we will probably always have at least one or two things “wrong” with our life - things we’re promising ourselves we’ll do differently … someday.

The question is, “HOW LONG?” 

How long have you been doing these things you don’t want to do? 

How long have you not been doing things you want to do?

John Foster Dulles said, "The mark of a successful organization isn't whether or not it has problems; it's whether it has the SAME problems it had last year."

The question is, “How long have these answers been in Box 2 and 3? And are they the same answers you’d give a year, or two, or three ago?”

Square 2 and 3 are where SOMEDAYS lurk.

These are priorities we keep telling ourselves we’re start or stop when we’re not quite so busy, when this project is finished, when we have more money, meet the right person, or the right set of circumstances show up.

The problem with that is, as Chuck Yeager says, "At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results."

If you want RESULTS at the end of your life - instead of reasons and regrets - you need to act on at least ONE THING in Square 2 and 3.

You may think, “But Sam, it's complicated. I have a lot of people counting on me. I’m kind of locked in. I don’t have the freedom to change things."

Yes you do. The good news is, you don't have to quit your job, abandon your responsibilities or come into a windfall to improve your quality of life.

All you have to do is DO LESS of something in Square 3 and it can free up time, energy and motivation to DO MORE of something in Square 2.

All you have to do is do ONE THING a week that puts the light on in your eyes, and it can compensate for having to do things the rest of the week that are not to your liking and are out of your control.

As Thomas Edison said, “There is always a better way to do something, find it.”

We don't need more time or money to be happier, we need more ingenuity.

A happier life doesn’t require a major life overhaul, it requires improving one thing each day so at the end of the day you look back and feel you did something you’re proud of and grateful for.

You might want to post your Happiness Box on your rerigerator where you'll see it every day as a reminder that your happiness is in your hands.

What will you do today your future self will thank you for?

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and 3-time TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create the life of their dreams now, not someday. Her books have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to Intel, Capital One, Cisco, Nationwide, YPO and EO. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact

Readers' Guide for Sam Horn's SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week

Remember, we're all in this ... alone." - Lily Tomlin

Thank heaven, we don't have to be in this all alone. We have the option of going it together. One of the goals of the SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week book is to catalyze conversation about what really matters.

Too often, we get busy and weeks (months? years?) go by without us talking about long-term goals or dreams that get pushed aside. It's easy for our values and priorities to get buried in the day-to-day and for resentments to start building up.

That's why I ended every chapter in my new book with 3-4 questions you can discuss with friends or a family member so you can go deep into the insights and talk about how they pertain to your personal and professional life.

Did you relate to the story that opened each chapter? When has that happened to you? What did it bring up for you? Whether it's "driving into hurricanes" or "watering dead plants," how did the real-life examples from myself and others prompt a fresh perspective?

What about the insights, exercises and quizes? Were they relevant for you? How so? What changes will you make - what action will you take - on something that's important to you?

The ten hacks and action steps are designed to elicit epiphanies around your health and happiness. Are you leading a meaningful, purposeful life? If so, how will you continue to do what puts the light on in your eyes? If not, what will you start, stop or do differently?

You might want to work through the book chapter by chapter with a friend, walking group, or book club. Assign a chapter a week (feel free to adapt that to suit your timeline) and lead a discussion where everyone has opportunities to share personal and professional AHA's. You might want to rotate who facilitate's the discuussion so everyone gets a chance.

Many people have told me these questions have led to some of the most honest conversations they've every had. One couple said filling out the Happiness Box together put the affection and romance back in their marriage. She said, "Little resentments had started piling up because we weren't talking honestly about the sacrifices we were making. We posted our Happiness Boxes on the frig so we can see them, update them every week, and figure out how to "swap time off" so we can each do one thing we enjoy."

And if you live or work by yourself and don't have anyone to discuss these questions with, reach out. Maybe there's a college friend you haven't talked to in awhile, a neighbor you used to live next to that you miss, a colleague at a previous job you really enjoyed.

Studies show we're "lonier" than ever. A February 9, 2019 New York Times article IsLoneliness a Health Epidemic? said it's a "sad reality of modern life."

But you can change that. Who is someone you know who would welcome a weekly opportunity to work through these structured questions together? It's an opportunity to talk honestly about what's working in your life, what's not, and what you plan to do about it with people who care, with people who have your back and front.

Research done by Harvard shows that "Relationships are THE key to enduring happiness." A primary point of the book is that meaningful conversation and connection about what matters is what will matter in the long run. WAITING for someone else to make the first move is a prescription for procrastination.

The goal of the SOMEDAY book is to be proactive, not passive, to take responsibility for our own happiness. One way to do that is to create a community you'd like to be part of. Discussing these questions can create a closeness that counteracts the isolation our culture.

One more suggestion? If you've read the book, you know it has more than 200 thought-provoking quotes on how we can create the quality of life we want now, not later.

In addition to answering the questions in this Readers;' Guide, you might also want to select a favorite quote from each chapter and share that with your group. Whether it's Esther Hicks' "My happiness is on me, so you're off the hook," or John Legend's "The future is already here and we're already late," theese inspiring quotes also have the power to provide insight.

And you might want to get the SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week Journal(which features a quote a day) so you can hold yourself accountable for reflecting on - and acting on - your intentions so you can turn them into a rewarding reality.

Readers’ Guide for Sam Horn's SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week 

LIFE HACK 1: EVALUATE Your Happiness History

Chapter 1. Play Hooky for a Day

1.     How would you spend your free day or afternoon? What would you do if the people you’re responsible for would be taken care of, and there would be NO repercussions?  

2.     What are three things you would not do on your day of hooky? Why?

3.     What were your answers to the boxes in the Happiness Quiz? Were they surprises? 

Chapter 2. Remember the Golden Days

1.     What were your top five priorities? What do you spend the most time on? Do your lists

match? If so, how so? How are you able to live in alignment with what matters to you?

2.     If your lists don’t match, why? What’s going on to cause the disparity?

3.     What questions from the Happiness Interview produced an aha? What insights did you get from delving into what is contributing to, or compromising, your happiness? 

Chapter 3. Adopt a Sense of Urgency

1.     Which of the reasons people gave for waiting resonated with you? Please elaborate how each particular reason has prevented you from doing what would make you happier?

2.     Did you do the pretend S.E.E.? What would you do if you only had a week to live? Is there some way you can actually do that, even part of it, now not someday? How so?

3.     When is a time you didn’t wait to do what was important to you? What gave you the clarity and confidence to act instead of procrastinate? How did it make you feel?

4.     Who do you know who you think of as “happy?” Who is a shining example of someone who DOES what they want now, not someday? What can you learn from their example?

LIFE HACK 2: GENERATE a Today Not Someday Dream

Chapter 4: Clarify What You Want

1.     Were you fortunate enough to have a calling, mission or passion project downloaded to you? What was it? Did you act on it? Why or why not? How has that affected your life?

2.     What is the mission statement you crafted? Where will you keep it in-sight, in-mind so it can help you make decisions that are in alignment with your purpose and true priorities?

3.     What do you want more of in your life? What would make your life more fulfilling? How you will give time to it to this week – instead of floating and waiting to do it someday?

Chapter 5: Put a Date on the Calendar

1. What would you like to experience or achieve by the end of this year? What is your Today, Not Someday Dream? When will you launch it? What “do-date” did you put on your calendar?

2. Now, start filling in the W’s … where, when, who, what, why. Who will you discuss this with so they can help you fill in the blanks so your dream goes from vague to vividly clear?

3. Where will you post your dream so it stays in-sight, in mind, and you are constantly re-inspired to do what you said you wanted to do?

LIFE HACK 3: ABDICATE Harmful Beliefs and Behaviors

Chapter 6. Just Say No to Nay-Sayers

1.     Do you have a nay-sayer who is telling you it’s wrong, foolish, or selfish to pursue your dream? Who is that person? What are they saying? What’s their real agenda? How has this person impacted you, up until now? Have they caused you to question yourself? Have they undermined your clarity, your courage, to grow and move forward?

2.     What will you do to speak up for yourself next time this person tries to undermine you? Or, what will you do to disassociate from this person or reduce their power over you?

3.     Who is a cheerleader who supports what you’re doing? How does this person help you grow and encourage you to be all you can be? How will you spend more time with this person so they give you the energy, tools, clarity and confidence to proceed?

Chapter 7. Let It Go, Let It Go, Let It Go

1.     How do you feel when you walk into your home? Where would your home rate on the Clutter (1) to Clean (10) Scale? How does that affect you? Do you feel guilty, stressed or frustrated with how things have piled up? Or do you feel proud, at peace with how well-designed, organized and beautiful things are?

2.     How much time do you spend cleaning, repairing, buying, renovating your stuff? Is that a source of enjoyment, a burden and chore, or something in between? Explain.

3.     Are you ready to down-size your home and/or release some belongings? How will you do that? Who else is impacted by this? How will you negotiate this with them? What could you do with the resources that would be freed up when you have less to take care of?

Chapter 8. Stop Driving into Hurricanes

1.     Can you relate to the “Why am I driving into a hurricane” story? What commitments are you keeping because you said you would? What are the consequences of that?

2.     Is there a time you “broke a promise” and, instead of it being a catastrophe, it actually led to a better situation? Please describe what happened.

3.     What is a stormy situation you’re in right now? Do you keep driving into this hurricane because you want to honor your commitment? Can you approach them, tell the truth as fast as you can, and explore options that have the potential to be a win for all involved?

LIFE HACK 4: INITIATE Daily Actions that Move Your Life Forward

Chapter 9. You Don’t Have to Know to Go

1.     Do you see yourself as brave? Why or why not? When is a time you tried something new and it worked out well? How can you tap back into that confidence and tell yourself, “If I did it before, I can do it again?”

2.     Were you brought up to see the world as a scary, dangerous place or a safe, adventurous place? How has that impacted your willingness to venture out on your own?

3.     What is something new you want to try? Are you getting conflicting advice? What’s your gut telling you? What if you took the bolder of the options and figured it out on the way?

Chapter 10. Honor the Nudges, Connect the Dots

1.     Do you make room for whims? Why or why not? When was a time you honored a nudge and acted on your intuition? What happened as a result?

2.     Do you think this is a lot of hooey? Does your intellect over-ride your instincts? Or, do you agree that if we have a sixth sense that alerts us to what’s wrong, we also have a sixth sense that alert us to what’s right? What are your beliefs about this?

3.     How will you honor the instincts that have your best interests at heart? How will you connect the dots, act on “coincidences” that beat the odds, and align with aligned individuals and opportunities that show up that “feel right?”

Chapter 11. Put Yourself in the Story

1.     Would you say you’re putting yourself in your own story? How so?

2.     When or how do you take yourself out of the story? Why?

3.     What was modeled for you about serving others? How has that supported or sabotaged your happiness? How will you strike a healthier balance between serving others and yourself? What is something you’ll do “just for yourself” this week? 

Chapter 12. Prevent the Rubber Band of Routine from Snapping Back

1. Have you found, despite your best intentions, that the Rubber Band of Routine snapped back and you’ve reverted to old ways? How so?

2. How will you use language to focus on what you do want instead of what you don’twant? For example, how could you turn empty days into open days?

3.What metrics will you assign to your dream so you have a measurable way to hold yourself accountable? How will you give yourself a “second chance” to get this change right and persevere to bring your life into alignment with your true priorities vs. reverting to old habits?

LIFE HACK 5: CELEBRATE What’s Right with Life, Right Here, Right Now

Chapter 13. Live in Day-Right Compartments

1.     Do you have a morning practice? If so, what is it? If not, why not?

2.     Do you find yourself getting caught up in the busyness of the world? Do you feel you’re losing connection with yourself and others? How so?

3.     What will you do to create a mindful ritual in the morning to get your day off to a good start? How will you belly-breathe or bring your mind to the present moment by using a SOMEDAY journal (or the equivalent) to keep the Happiness Hacks top-of-mind?

Chapter 14. Get Out of Your Head and Come to Your Senses

1.     When was the last time you saw something as if for the first or last time? Describe what happened and what it felt like.

2.     Do you have a busy, stressful life? What is the ongoing impact of rushing, rushing, rushing and always feeling “an hour late and a dollar short?

3.     Would you say you have “juice” in your camera? Do you look at the world with fresh eyes? When, where and how will you get out of your head and come to your senses?

Chapter 15. Get a Move On

1.     Would you say you appreciate your freedom of movement or do you take it for granted? What are you currently doing to take care of your body and health? Elaborate.

2.     What are you doing that is harming your body or jeopardizing your freedom of movement? Sitting? Smoking? Eating and drinking the wrong things? What? 

3.     Do you have a car? Is it a source of frustration or a source of freedom? When and where will you go for fun – by walking, driving, biking, flying or training - because you can?

Chapter 16. Free Up Time for Fun

1.     What do you do for fun? Do you have a hobby? Play a sport? Sing? Garden? What?

How often do you do this? How does it contribute to the quality of your life?

2.     What did you USE to do for recreation? Is that out of your life now? Why? Do you feel it’s frivolous, that you have more important things to do? Explain.

3.     How will you carve out time to have a good time? How will you bring more joy into your life? When, where and how will you do something that puts the light on in your eyes?

Chapter 17. Be Wealthy in What Matters

1.     Growing up, what were the messages you received about money? 

2.     On a scale of 1 – 10, how satisfied are you with the amount of money you make and have?  Do you have “enough” or is lack of money undermining your quality of life? Explain. What is your “number?” What do you envision happening when you reach it?

3.     How are you wealthy in what matters, right here, right now? Give an example of what you will do to imprint and appreciate your “good fortune” this week. Has a dream come true and you haven’t really acknowledged it? How will you rectify that?

LIFE HACK 6: AFFILIATE with People Who Have Your Back and Front

Chapter 18. Launch Your Ship in Public

1.     So, what is that venture you want to launch? Who has supported you, cheered you on? What have they done to help you achieve your goal and do what’s important to you?

2.     Who has cautioned you, told you (“for your own good”) that what you want to do won’t work or isn’t a good idea? What impact has that had on you?

3.     How will you take your dream public and give others a chance to jump on your bandwagon?  Will you create a vision board and/or host a Today, Not Someday party? Where did you post your vision so it stays in-sight, in-mind?

Chapter 19: Create a Community of One

1.     When was a time you had a room – or road – of your own? What did it mean to you? Where do you go now to escape? What do you do there? Why is it important to you?

2.     Ae you an introvert, extrovert or ambivert? How do you take responsibility for getting the right mix of being social and being solitary?

3.     Can you be alone without being lonely? Are you comfortable going places by yourself because you can connect with your surroundings and turn strangers into friends? How so?

LIFE HACK 7: INTEGRATE Your Passion and Profession 

Chapter 20. Blend Your Work and Recreation

1.     Did you used to see your work and recreation as separate? If so, why so? If not, how did you get clear you could have the best of both worlds by combining them?

2.     What skills, talents, hobbies do you have that you can integrate into your work? How can you integrate your passion and purpose into your profession so it benefits all involved?

3.      What do you currently work hard at? How, like the realtor/tennis player, can you combine your job and joy and make it more rewarding now, not later?

Chapter 21. Don’t Wait for Work You Love; Create Work You Love

1.     Do you love your job? Do you feel you’re adding value and contributing? How so?

2.      If you don’t find your work satisfying, why not? What talents or skills are you not having an opportunity to use or get credit for?

3.     What are your Four I’s? How could you leverage them into a paying career where you get paid to do it for others – or teach it to others? What is your next step? Will you visit crafts fairs to see how people have turned a passion into a profession? Elaborate.

LIFE HACK 8: NEGOTIATE for What You Want, Need and Deserve

Chapter 22. Stop Trying to Make People Happy; You’re Not Chocolate

1.     Are you too nice for your own good? Are you a people-pleaser who orders pasta you don’t want? How so? How does this impact you and the people around you?

2.     Have you been taking yourself out of the picture – and habitually putting others first? Was that modeled for you growing up? Why do you do that? What are the consequences?

3.     What is a specific situation where you haven’t been clear about what you want? How will you rectify that by saying what YOU want up front, now and in the future?

Chapter 23. If You Don’t Ask, the Answer’s Always NO

1.     When is a time you asked for something you wanted – whether it was a promotion, project lead or pay raise? How did you prepare? What was the result?

2.     When is a time you waited for someone to “do the right” thing, act on your behalf or give you what you deserved? As Dr. Phil would say, “How’d that work for you?”

3.     What is a situation you’re unhappy with right now? Which of the Four A’s have you used? How will you alter the situation by using the 5 P’s of Persuasion to increase the likelihood of improving this situation?


Chapter 24. Quit Watering Dead Plants

1.     Is the majority of your life out of your control and not to your liking? How so? Does this challenging time have a timeline? Can you “make your mind a deal it can’t refuse” so you are able to keep things in perspective?

2.     What do you currently do to maintain a positive perspective, to have something to look forward to in bleak times?  How do you stay focused on what you CAN control?

3.     Are there dead plants you can stop watering? What can you quit that is compromising your quality of life? How can you innovate a fresh start if you are going through dark times to keep the light on in your eyes?

Chapter 25. Do the Opposite of Your Always

1.     Would you describe your life, career or long-term relationships as an aircraft carrier? How so? Is it a successful carrier? Are people counting on you to stay on the carrier?

2.     Are you ready to fly off your carrier now and then so you can be by yourself or so you can be yourself? Where on earth would you like to go? What do you want to do?

3.     What is a local place that could be your Utah, the Third Place where you could go to work on a priority project? When will you go there? What will you work on there?

LIFE HACK 10: RELOCATE to Greener Pastures

Chapter 26. Give Yourself a GFS - Geographic Fresh Start

1.     Would you say you’re a roots person or a wings person? What does that mean to you?

2.     Are you happy where you are in your current home? In your neighborhood, city and state? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what don’t you like about it?

3.     If you could move, where would you go? What would it take for you to move? Imagine it in full detail. Write out the steps to move this from being a vague idea to a vivid reality.

Chapter 27. Come Full Circle

1.     When was the last time you were in your hometown? What memories did it bring back? Did you reconnect with people that influenced you? Did it catalyze a new creative direction that could be a satisfying full-circle way to come home to who you truly are?

2.     What used to light you up, but it feels like it might be a retreat or regression to “go back there?” Do you worry it’s thinking small instead of thinking big? Could it actually be you’re going “home” to who you are at your core, your best self?

3.     Do you agree with Ram Dass that we can be “at home” wherever we are and that “home” is a mindset, not a location? Where do you feel most at home?

Chapter 27. Welcome What’s NEXT

1.     Are you ready for a fresh start, for a new adventure? What NEXT could put the light on in your eyes?

2.     Do you agree with philosophers that living in the now is the miracle – or do you believe happiness can be a balance of the past, present and future?

3.     How will you keep your antenna up for a NEXT that’s in alignment with your values and priorities? What will you say to yourself when that opportunity arises so you act on it?

Hope you're found these questions inspiring, insightful and useful. Even more importantly, I hope they've motivated you to get crystal clear on your values and priorities, and that you've taken steps to create a life that is in alignment with them now, not someday.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of The INTRIGUE AGENCY and TEDx speaker, is the author of POP! , Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? which have been endorsed by Tony Robbins, Seth Godin, Dan Pink, Marshall Goldsmith, quoted in New York Times, Forbes and Fast Company and presented to National Geographic, NASA, Intel, Cisco, Capital One, YPO. This Readers Guide is from her latest book SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week, endorsed by Geneen Roth, Dorie Clark, Kamal Ravikant and Sheri Salata (fomer Executive Producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show) who says Sam is "one of the brighest lights and most accessible wisdom-sharers in our culture today."

Facilitator’s Guide for Hosting a Salon, Book Club or Accountability Group

"You're not alone. I will stand by you, I will help you through when you’ve done all you can do.” – Rascal Flatts

Do you wish you could talk about things that matter with people who:

  • are going through the same things you are and can relate?

  • listen without interrupting and who genuinely care?

  • offer support and encouragement and stand by you?

If so, like the Rascal Flatts lyrics say, you’re not alone.

A study by healthcare provider Cigna found that “most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness. Nearly half say they feel ‘left out,’ and 13% say that zero people know them well.” Zero!

That’s why I’m sharing guidelines on how to facilitate a salon, book club or accountability group – in the hopes you’ll take the initiative and choose to organize and host one in your area. 

Business advisors told me I should charge for this process.

I understand why they're suggesting that. I did that with Tongue Fu!® We certified people around the world and taught them how to offer workshops on our trade-marked process and get paid for it - so I’m well aware that’s a viable option.

After thinking about it, I’ve decided to make these step-by-step instructions available to EVERYONE for free. Here’s why.

I am a woman on a mission to counteract the loneliness and isolation that are epidemic in our country. 

We all want, need and deserve opportunities to have honest, meaningful conversations with people about what really matters in life. We all crave opportunities to gather with like-minded souls and be part of a community where everyone has opportunities to connect and contribute.

And someone's got to take the lead. Someone's got to go first. Someone's got to say, "I know how much I would like this, so instead of waiting for someone else to take the inititiative, I will ... now not someday."

My hope is that these guidelines help you gather people together - whether it's 3 or 30 - and facilitate a “rising tide” experience that elevates all involved.

All I ask is that you credit the SOMEDAY book and help spread the word about its message. That might include taking a picture of your group (with people’s permission) and posting it on social media. Sharing a review of the book or TEDx talk. Arranging for me to speak to your organization or at your industry conference. Anything you do is appreciated.

Please note: people asked me to please provide step-by-step instructions so this document is, shall we say, comprehensive.

Please understand, you don’t have to do all of this or any of this. 

The goal is simply to create a supportive, interactive gathering where eveyone has opportunities to talk honestly about what’s going on in their world that’s working - what’s not - and what they're going to do about it. 

Please feel free to adapt these guidelines so they congruent with your voice, vision and values, so they're in alignment with your group's goals. 

Sam Horn’s Guidelines for Hosting a Book Club, Salon or Accountability Group

  1. Fill out a W5 Form to clarife your W’s. This will serve as your North Star and help you plan an event that's rewarding for all involved. 

What? Do you want this to be a:

  • 30-45 minute virtual conversation on Zoom, Skype, Go to Meeting?

  • 45-60 minute brown bag lunch discussion?

  • 90 minute book club on a weeknight?

  • 2-3 hour relaxed brunch or afternoon “salon” on a weekend?

Where and When? Do you want this held:

  • In an open board room at work or a conference room at your office?

  • In your home or on a friend’s patio or living room?

  • In the meeting room of your condo or neighborhood association?

  • In a private room at a restaurant, community center or library?

  • On what month and day? What is the start and ending time?

  • Do you have the exact address on the invitation with driving directions, public transit directions and parking suggestions?

Who?  Who do you want to invite? Who would you like to attend?

  • Personal friends, neighbors and family members?

  • People from work or your industry who have a similar type of job?

  • Boomers? Millennials? Retirees? People of all ages?

  • Women only? Men only? Couples? Jobseekers? Diverse mix?

  • Half people you already know – half people who are new to you?

  • An ideal group is between 3-30 people. Smaller groups allow for intimate conversations. :arger group allows for more meet & greet.

Why will it be a win for attendees? What will motivate them to show up? Will they have an opportunity to:

  • Bypass chit-chat and discuss topics that really matter?

  • connect with long-time friends they don’t get to see very often?

  • socialize, make new friends and grow their community?

  • Gain insight into what could make them happier now, not someday?

  • Hear stories and insights about life and share some of their own?

Why will it be a win for you? Why will it be worth you initiating, organizing and hosting this?

  • Does it give you satisfaction to bring people together who might be feeling disconnected, isolated or way too busy?

  • Do you know SOMEONE has to take the first step – or it won’t happen – so you're that someone who is going to make it happen?

  • Do you want to put together an interactive event where everyone has a voice and gets to contribute and connect – instead of a standard “sage on the stage” format?

  • Are you tired of small talk and want to give people a chance to go deep and tell the truth about what’s really going on in their life?

  • Are you ready to be a servant leader who is appreciated because you’re a convener who creates a “rising tide” communitys?

2. Create a one-page invitation to the event. 

a. Why one page? Because the shorter and clearer this is, the more likely it is people will conclude it’s well-organized and want to participate.

 This can be an email you send out – or a paper announcement you pass out. You might want to feature a photo and description of the book (this is available on Amazon so people know the purpose of the gathering).

b. Make this warm and welcoming so people know why you’re excited about this event and believe it will be time well spent for everyone in the room.

c. You're welcome to use the W5 Form as your format. It quickly communicates the W’s (What, When, Where, Who, and Why) so people are clear about “the flow of the show” and feel they’ll be in “good hands.”

d. You might want to use EVENT BRITE so you have a system and site to promote the event, collect registrations and track RSVP’s.

 e. Feature your contact info so people can get in touch to ask questions.

f. Indicate if there any costs, how and when to make payment, and to whom. Cash? Check? Credit card? In advance? By a cut-off date? Pay at the door?

g. What should they bring? Their copy of the book? A notebook? Food or drinks? People often want to contribute so give them something to bring.

3. Determine Costs and Expenses:

  • Will you be providing refreshments? If so, plan a sufficient variety to suit people’s different dietary needs and requests.

  • Do you have enough plates, glasses, forks, napkins, serving trays?

  • Do you want to make this potluck? If so, how will you ensure people bring a range of items – main dish, veggies, salads, beverages, drinks - instead of 10 desserts or ten bags of chips?

  • If you’re catering this, what are the projected costs per person? Charge an appropriate fee so you are not “out of pocket.”

  • If this is at a restaurant, indicate whether people will pay for their own meal, how so, or if that is included in the cost of the ticket.

  • Is there a room rental, bartending, cleaning fee or other expenses that will be incurred that need to be included/covered in the ticket fee?

  • Will books be provided? If so, who is paying for them? Or do attendees need to purchase books in advance and bring them?

  • Will books be for sale at the event? If so, Amazon often sells books for $10 off and no shipping. If you want, you can buy the books at a discount from them or other major retailers like Barnes & Noble, 800 CEO READ or your favorite independent bookstore, and sell them for a small profit to offset and help cover expenses.)

  • Do you have a sponsor – an organization or a generous donor – who is covering the costs of the event? If so, how will you publicly acknowledge and thank them?

4. Provide an agenda and suggest how people can prepare in advance to make the most of the event. You might want to:

5. Tips for Facilitating a Fun, Focused Conversation

  • Let people know in advance they can TRUST you to honor your time commitments. 

  • If you say you’ll start at 6:30, start at 6:30 even if some people are late. If you don’t, the agenda goes down the drain and people feel short-changed and frustrated. Honor people who are on time, not the ones who aren't. This sets a precedent for future meetings because your reputation is you ALWAYS start and end on time.

  • If you said you’ll stop at 8 pm, stop at 8 - even if people are in the midst of fascinating conversations. Graciously tell people they are welcome to stay longer if they choose to - however the event is officially over for those who need/want to leave.

  • Ask people to keep their comments to 3 minutes or less so EVERYONE has a chance to talk and enforce that rule. If you let ONE person ramble or dominate the discussion, the event will quickly go off the rails. If necessary, interrupt and say, “Thanks Bob for bringing that up. Who else has a story they’d like to share?” or “I’m so glad you pointed that out, Bev. Who has a different perspective or a similar experience?”

  • Appoint a timekeeper to give people a heads-up 15 seconds before their time is up. Speak up if they go over and direct the conversation to someone else. The group will appreciate you being fair and holding everyone accountable for honoring time limits.

  • Think of yourself as a conductor and the group as an orchestra. The goal is for EVERYONE to participate. Look around the room. Who hasn’t spoken up yet? Let quiet people know you want to hear what they have to say. You might ask, “Sue, what did you have in Square 1 of your Happiness Box?” Everyone looks to you as the leader to make everyone feel included, not just the extroverts or vocal few.

  • Establish ground-rules up front so people are treated with respect and feel emotionally safe.

  • For example, you might want to agree everything that is discussed in the group is PRIVATE. No sharing what’s said with others outside the room unless you ask for and are given permission.

  • No arguing. People have the right to share their experience without being told they’re WRONG.

  • No coaching. This is not about giving ADVICE or trying to FIX people. This is an opportunity to share what’s really going on in our life and get support.

  • What other ground-rules would ensure people can talk openly?

  • Post these ground-rules on a wall or poster board, or pass them out to everyone at the outset.. There are rules of the road that ensure everyone can drive safely. These rules ensure people can converse safely. Reference them at the beginning of the event so everyone agrees to honors them.

  • As a convener and conductor, it's also your role to keep the pace of the event moving forward. Have a variety of questions planned out in advance. If, for some reason, a question doesn’t elicit enthusiasm or the discussion and energy “sag,” switch to to a different subject to maintain momentum and keep interest high.

  • How to come up with intriguing questions? Review the SOMEDAY Readers’ Guide at the link below. Select 5-10 questions you think are relevant and timely that could catalyze an interesting conversation. 


  • If you have people fill out the Happiness Box, follow-up questions might be: What did you put in Squares 1 and 4? What did you put in Squares 2 and 3? What surprised you? What didn't? Any epiphanies? What is ONE thing you could change in Square 3 that could open up time, energy and resources for something in Square 2?

  • Or ask, “What’s your favorite adventure from Sam's Year by the Water? Why did you relate to it? What did it inspire you to do?”

  • Be sure your last question is action-oriented. “So, what is ONE dream you will set in motion – or ONE priority or passion project you will spend more time on – starting today, not SOMEDAY?

6. Bonus Tips for Hosting Events That are a Success For All Involved

a. Have a sign-in sheet and name tags at the door to facilitate people getting to know each other. Ask a friend to stand at the door, greet people and make introductions, so people feel welcome as soon as they arrive.

b. You might want to start by asking everyone to give a 1 minute intro (and when you say 1 minute, you mean 1 minute.) Announce you’re “putting your schedule where your values are.” The goal is to set up meaningful connections and sharing personal introductions will help do that.

c, If you don’t want people to give “boring” introductions where they simply explain “what they do,” suggest they share something surprising about themselves or something they’re looking forward to. You might want to go first, or ask someone to kick things off who will model an intriguing into.

d. People are usually so appreciative of the connections they've made, they want to stay in touch and "continue the converesation." If so, invite people to exchange business cards, or you can circulate a “Contact” sheet where people share their email or phone number and send that list to everyone with your follow-up thank you note. 

It’s very important to make this voluntary. Clarify it is NOT okay for anyone to automatically add attendees to their mailing list and/or to market their business or sell their services without permission and unless someone specifically requests it.

e. Provide paper, pens and flat surfaces to write on. You might want to print a “hand-out” with favorite quotes from the book on one side - and white space to take notes and do the exercises on the other side. This gives people a "tangible takeaway" they can post on their refrigerator to keep their insights in-sight, in-mind and their intentions top-of-mind.

f. Many groups have told me this was one of the most enjoyable events they've ever been part of and they don't want it to end. If that’s the case with you and your group, SET UP A NEXT MEETING in the last ten minutes of your event. Agree to a follow-up date IN THE ROOM so everyone can put it on their calendar. Set up a pipeline instead of this being a "one-off."

g. Provide a stamped envelope so attendees can write a personal note to themselves of what they will start, stop or do differently. Mail these to attendees 4-6 weeks later. It’s a thoughtful “gift” people appreciate.It often re-ignites their commitment to act on their intentions and hold themselves accountable for turning a someday into a today.

h. You might want to play upbeat music when people are entering the room, leaving and during refreshment breaks. Whether it’s Brandenberg Concertos, Herbie Hancock or Dianna Krall, music can establish an instant good mood. Be sure not to play it too loud. The goal is to energize the room, not make it difficult for people to hear each other talk.

i. Stock plenty of toilet paper and guest towels in the bathroom(s). If this is a public place, give instructions how to find the bathroom at the outset.

j. If people ask, “How can I help?” give them a job😊 Studies show that people who are shy are much more comfortable if they’re given something to do – whether that’s taking coats, offering drinks, cleaning up after the party, distributing hand-outs, or signing people in at the door.

k. You might want to provide a feedback form. Let people know you will read every comment and use it to make the next event you host (you ARE hosting more events, right??) even more valuable. What did people like about the event? What could make it even better? What did they find most relevant or inspiring? Any other comments or suggestions?

And did I mention having FUN? If you have fun, they’ll have fun.

Robert Frost said, “No joy in the writer, no joy in the reader.”

Well, no joy in the host, no joy in the group.

What matters is that you’re bringing people together in an isolated world, You are creating community. Center yourself before the event in how glad you are to be doing this and how grateful you are the group is there. 

In the long run, intent transcends logistics. ENJOY!

Katherine Graham said, “To do what you love and feel that it matters, how could anything be more fun?”

The only thing that could be more fun is to do something you love, feel that it matters, and do it with people you enjoy and respect.

That is what you get to do when you organize and host a "rising tide raising all involved" salon, book club or accountability group.

Please let me know how it goes.

It makes my day when people take the time to get back in touch and let me know what a rewarding experience this was for them - and why.

Did you meet people you otherwise would never have met?

Create an event where people felt connected instead of alone?

Are you reveling in the meaningful discussions about shared challenges and successes that everyone in the room appreciated?

Have people already gotten back in touch to thank you for giving them the encouragement and accountability to take action on their dreams?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Until then, best wishes and onward.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and 3 time TEDX speaker, is on a mission to help people create the life, work and relationships of their dreams. Her books POP!, Tongue Fu!, IDEApreneur, Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? and SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week have been featured in NY Times, on NPR and presented to Intel, NASA, Capital One, Cisco, Nationwide and National Geographic. . Want Sam to share her inspiring insights with your group? Contact 

The Longer You WAIT to WRITE a BOOK, the Less Likely It is You Will

Years ago, I had an opportunity to host a round-table discussion at the Erma Bombeck Writers Workshop. (If you haven't had a chance to attend - get yourself there!)

I'll always remember the keynote speaker said Erma was often approached by people wanting her advice on how to write a book.

Erma told them, “Many books never even get out of the box. It takes an uncommon amount of guts to put your writing dreams on the line, to say, 'How good or how bad am I?' That's where courage comes in."

Agreed. Writing is not just about words. It's about courage.

Do you have the courage to get your ideas and stories out of your head and into the world where they can make a difference for you and others?

Please understand, books in your head help no one.

If you have experienced, learned or created something that could add value for others, not only do you have the RIGHT to write, you have a RESPONSIBILITY to write.

Have you thought of it that way? Writing isn't arrogant, it's an offering.

You're not saying, "I'm perfect. I've figured everything out.” You're not saying, "This book is the best ever written."

You're saying, "Here’s what I’ve seen, experienced, done or learned along the way. I hope it might be interesting, inspiring or useful to you."

Pablo Picasso said, "The purpose of life is to find your gift. The meaning is to give it away."

If there's anything I've learned in twenty years of helping people get their book(s) out of their head and into the world, it's that writing is a way of gifting back the gifts that have been given to us.

Writing is a way to live life twice.

We get to experience it in the moment, and then share it in the hope it might make a difference for others.

Writing gives life meaning and momentum. It makes every day - everything that happens - more purposeful.

As Stephen King says, "In the end, writing is about enriching the lives of people who read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.”

If you’re thinking, “I want to write, but have a ‘day job,’ you might want to follow the example of John Grisham.

Before he became a bestselling author, he got up at 5 am every morning to write BEFORE he went into his full-time job as an attorney.

Jacquelyn Mitchard (the first Oprah pick for"The Deep End of the Ocean") wrote for a couple hours every day at her kitchen table while her kids were at school.

If you really want to write, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.

As Erma used to say, "Not a day goes by that I don’t hear from aspiring writers who have questions. They ask, ‘What if I fail?’ I try to reframe that for them by asking, 'What if you succeed?'"

We are all authors of our own story. We get to choose what we write on the pages of our days, the chapters of our life.

Make this the year you finish your book. .

As Paulo Coelho says, “One day you’re going to wake up and there won’t be any time left to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.”

Don’t wait for one day. Don’t put this off until someday.

I'll be hosting a Writers Weekend in beautiful Boulder on Wonderland Lake next month.

I'll be sharing best-practices gleaned from 17 years of running the world-renowned Maui Writers Conference and helping hundreds of clients publish quality books that catapulted their income and impact for good.

You'll have opportunities to write in the room - or outside by the lake - and receive feedback, encouragement, and next steps.

I'm keeping the group small (8 participants max) so you get your priorities met. Whether you're a published author wanting to outline your next book, or a first-time author wanting to know how and where to start, this weekend is the best way to kick-start your project and move it forward..

Magic happens when you write in community. Previous participants have told me this is THE best investment they've made in their writing career.

Contact for details and to reserve your spot.

- - -

Sam Horn, Founder/CEO of the INTRIGUE Agency and TEDx speaker, is on a mssion to help people create the life of their dreams now, not someday. Her books POP!, Tongue Fu!, SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week and Wash Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and on NPR, endorsed by Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Seth Godin, and presented to Intel, Cisco, YPO, Boeing, NASA and Nationwide..

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Are You Keeping the Creative’s Contract?

"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write." - Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow is right.

The biggest takeaway from Emceeing the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years and meeting some of the most inpsiring creatives on the planet, (e.g., Ron Howard, Carrie Fisher, Mitch Albom, Dave Barry) was:


One of our keynoters, former National Geographic photographer Dewitt Jones, is a walking-talking role model of why this is so important.

Dewitt and I were enjoying a walk/talk on Wailea Beach discussing intuition. What is it? Where does it comes from? How can we leverage it?

Dewitt was doing something that puzzled me. We’d walk for awhile and then he’d stop, whip out a little notebook and pen from his pocket and scribble something down. We’d go another few hundred yards and he’d do the same thing. I finally asked, “Dewitt, what are you doing?”

He said, “Sam, I used to get an idea and promise myself I’d include it in my next keynote or column, but then I’d get distracted and forget all about it.

I realized I make my living from my mind. I was throwing away this ‘gold’ my intuition and the muse were gifting to me. So I started carrying this notebook with me and writing things down the instant they occurred, so they’d be there waiting for me when I’m ready for them.”

Exactly. How many times have you gotten an intuitive flash – a whisper of an insight - and then gone about your day and forgotten it?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in twenty years of researching the topic of INTRIGUE; it’s that this is how our best thoughts are born. They POP! into our mind. And if we don’t jot them down, they’re out of sight, out of mind.

From now on, be like Dewitt. Carry a small notebook with you, or go to the App Store right now and download - a free voice recorder/instant transcription app that captures your Aha’s in real time.

Please understand: epiphanies are in their purest form in their original form. We don’t have to understand where they come from, and we don’t have to know where they will fit into our work. Just trust that they will.

Ralph Waldo Emerson suggested we, “Learn to watch that gleam of light which flashes across the mind from within.”

It’s not enough to “watch” those gleams of light - those cerebral sparks - that flash across our brain, we’ve got to capture them so we can fan them later. When we do, our life becomes our lab.

Pablo Picasso said, “The purpose of life is to find your gifts, the meaning is to give them away.”

Please understand, intuition is a gift and so are the Aha’s it delivers.

Aha’s are anti-infobestiy. For whatever reason, new dots have just connected in a new way. We have been gifted with something that broke through our brain’s screening filter and got our mental eyebrows up.

That means it has the potential to get other people’s eyebrows up - to enlighten them or inspire them to see things with fresh eyes.

It is our responsibility to record and share our aha’s. When we do, they are no longer limited to us, they are now serving and adding value for others.

Which is why, from now on, when you are “in the flow of thinks,” promise yourself you will honor the Creative’s Contract:

Jot thoughts when they’re hot.

Ink it when you think it.

Muse it so you don’t lose it.

Make your life your lab.

I promise, you will never regret capturing and sharing your aha’s - you’ll only regret NOT doing it sooner and losing opportunities to scale their impact - for good.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker is on a mission to help people create the life and work of their dreams. Her books - POP!, Tongue Fu! and Got Your Attention? - have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to Capital One, NASA, Cisco, ASAE, YPO and Boeing,

NOW is the New LATER

At a recent SOMEDAY salon, I listened in to a small group of people who were discussing what they'd put in Square 2 of the Happiness Box. (You can find it here.) Kimberly, a 30-something bank employee said, “I didn't even have to think about it. I put down travel. I took a gap year between high school and college. I got a Eurorail pass, toured Europe, stayed in hostels and backpacked with people I met along the way. It was the best time of my life. I haven’t traveled out of the country since I got a ‘real job’ ten years ago and I miss it.”

I said, “Okay, let’s get more specific. Travel where?”

She thought about it for a moment and then brightened as she thought of a place she had always wanted to visit. “Nepal.”

“What do you want to do there? Trek the Himalaya’s?”

Her eyes brightened more as she started seeing this in her mind’s eye. “Yes.”

“All right, let’s get more specific. How much time do you have?"

"Ten days. Well, I get two weeks for vacation, but I want to save a couple days for something else just in case."

"Got it. Do you want to go by yourself or with a guided group?”

She started warming to the topic, “I want to go with an all-women’s group.”

The woman next to her said, “I know someone who did that. She had a fabulous time. The tour operator handled all the details. You just have to show up. What’s your number and I’ll text you her contact info.”

When I moved on, they were animatedly discussing details of the trip. Kimberly's vague wish went from something she wrote in Square 2 to something that had already “come alive” in her mind and that had a much higher likelihood of happening.

That is the power of using specifics to turn a SOMEDAY into a TODAY. That's the power of fleshing out the details of what you'd like to do so you're already mentally experiencing it.

How about you? Is there something you hope to do LATER when you have more time, money, clarity, freedom, whatever? What if that never happens? Later may be too late.

The key to turning an “I'd like to” into a “I will" is to fill out your W5 Form.

WHAT exactly do you want to do, see, experience? What resources do you need? What is the next step to making this happen? ______________ 2. WHY does this light you up? Why is this exciting to you, something you would enjoy or find meaningful? ______________________________

3. WHERE specifically do you want to go? Where would this take place? Online? Another city or country? _______________________________

4. WHEN would you go, launch this, start or finish it ?________________

5. WHO would you go with? Or WHO do you want to meet, connect with? Who can help make this happen or help you move it forward?________________

The more W’s you picture for your project, the more “real” it becomes in your mind’s eye. Visualizing what you want with vivid W’s turns something vague into something visceral.

Pearl S. Buck said, “Stories were full of hearts broken by love, but what really broke a heart was taking away its dream, whatever that dream might be.”

What takes away a dream is not committing a date to it on your calendar.

If you want results instead of regrets, fill out and post your W5 Form – What? Why? When? Where? Who? - where you’ll see it every day.

The more detailed you get, the more invested you are, and the most invested you are, the more likely it is your dream will come true.

So, what is something you've been planning to do later?

How are you doing to set it in motion - even if that means putting a date on the calendar - NOW instead of waiting for the perfect time, place or person?


How to Create a More Beautiful Mind and Life … with Poet David Whyte

What a gift of a day. Experienced a workshop with corporate poet David Whyte – who is the real deal. He delivered dozens of profound insights distilled into crafted sentences that resonated and reverberated with everyone in the room.

It’s hard to pick a favorite of the many “iceberg ideas” he shared. A few include:

* “All of spirituality can be expressed in the footprint of friendship.”

* “Innocence is the ability to be found by the world … again and again.”

* Just beyond yourself is where you need to be.”

* “Drink from the stream of generosity and turn your palms out to receive the blessings of the world.”

Everyone in that room felt blessed to be there because David was so congruent, generous and “lit up” whiile sharing his work.

As a presentation coach, it’s fun to analyze WHY he was able to keep us engaged from start to finish. Here are a few observations as to why he is a master poet and a master presenter:

1. He was a walking-talking example of CENTERED STRENGTH (no toxic masculinity here).

2. His knowledge was a SOCRATIC OFFERING (he wasn’t coming from ego or arrogance).

3. There was an absence of trying to prove, impress or self-promote.

4. He clearly loved being there – so we did too. He would often break into full-body laughter and had a little-boy delight that was contagious in the best sense of the word

5. His DELIBERATE RECITATIONS and REPETITIONS took us deeper into the work. Instead of racing through his words, (which would have kept us on the surface), he was at peace with silence. He let the words sink in so we could absorb and reflect on them.

He modeled how important it is to SLOW DOWN instead of rushing through material to “get it all in before we run out of time.” That exhausts people and causes them to feel overwhelmed and like they “can’t keep up.” He intentionally repeated passages with different inflection and long pauses so we got something new each time.

6. His use of alliteration, rhythm and juxtaposition – the Bell and the Blackbird – made his metpahorical insights even more evocative and open to interpretation so they were personally meaningful for every single one of us.

All in all, it was a Jack Nicholson kind of day. (Smile.)

Know what I mean? Remember the movie AS GOOD AS IT GETS?

Toward the end of the movie, Helen Hunt asks Jack’s character, “Give me a compliment.”

He says, “That’s a pretty dress.”

She says, “No, pay me a real compliment.”

He seems to realize the future of their relationship depends on his ability to come up with something more meaningful. He blurts out, “You make me want to be a better man.”

That day with David made me want to be better person.

If you’re not already familiar with David’s inspiring work, check him out. His walking tours in Europe, poetry programs on how to create a more beautiful mind and life, and leadership workshops around the country just might help your “heart meet your horizon.”

Where and What is Your "Utah?"

"Other people have analysis. I have Utah." - Robert Redford One of the most important epiphanies from my Year by the Water was that we don't have to be anti-social to be pro-solitude.

What do I mean by that?

Well, last April I was driving out in the middle of nowhere listening to the Audible version of Gloria Steinem’s memoir, My Life on the Road.

I had always pictured Texas as hot, flat and barren. But this was spring. Much to my surprise, everything was green, rolling, vibrant. I didn't know what was over the next knoll, all I knew was it was going to be something interesting I'd never seen before.

I was driving at golden hour - that blessed hour right before the sun goes down and the air shimmers with special light. I came over a rise and there, stretched out to the horizon, were golden fields. I gasped out loud at the sheer beauty of it, pulled over, shut off the car engine and stepped outside to bask in its splendor. The only sound was a slight breeze through the leaves of a nearby tree.

I will always remember that exquisite experience. I can still see it in my mind's eye months later.

I got back in the car and resumed driving while listening to Gloria share stories and insights from her life. She quoted Virginia Woolf who believed, "Every woman needs a room of her own."

I laughed out loud as I realized, "I have a ROAD of my own."

I truly revel in my independence. To me, an open road means freedom, autonomy, the opportunity to go anywhere I want when I want to. It's esstential to life feeling right.

I stopped at a steak house that night for dinner. The waiter asked where I was from, and I told him about driving cross-country visiting bodies of water and writing about them. He was intrigued and asked where I'd been that day. I told him about my experience with the golden fields.

He said, somewhat incredulous, "You're doing this by yourself? Aren't you lonely??

I told him, "I'm never lonely as long as I'm paying attention."

He persisted, "I wouldn't want to drive cross-country unless I had someone to share it with. It seems like it'd be kind of an empty experience."

I smiled because, to me, that experience wasn't empty, it was alive. There wasn't absence, there was presence.

I told him, "Connection isn't just with people. I was connected to those fields and with that moment. I've found that as long as I'm appreciating what I'm seeing, feeling, thinking and hearing, I'm never really alone."

I could tell he didn't relate to what I was saying. When I got back on the road, I asked myself, "Why is it that I crave space? Why is that I don't feel "bereft" when I'm by myself?"

I think part of it is I feel connected to loved ones even when we're not together. The connection I have with my loved ones exists even when we're miles apart. They're with me ... even when they're not with me.

The fact is, I am an ambivert. I enjoy being with people and I enjoy not being with people. I am both a public person and a private person.

Being around smart, talented, interesting people energizes me. And exploring new places and spaces on my own energizes me. It's not an either-or, it's both. Socialization and solitude are two sides of the coin of a creatively productive life.

What I know fur sure is that I need time and space to "mull and muse."

What do I mean by "mull and muse?" Time and space to reflect on what I've seen, heard, read. Time to roll thoughts around in my head. To observe the world around me from all angles. To savor ideas and insights like you would a ripe piece of fruit. To connect dot thoughts in new ways.

Perhaps my favorite example of someone who also seemed to operate best with a mix of socialization and solitude was ... Abraham Lincoln.

Several years ago, I was hired to train the board of Entrepreneurs Organization in public speaking. As a special treat, they arranged for a private group dinner at Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington DC following our day-long training.

I got there an hour before the others arrived. The first thing I noticed as I walked in was how "spare" the cottage was. Each room had only a few items. A desk. A chair. A small table with a lamp. It was as if the walls were whispering, "Space to think. Space to think."

I instantly got it. This was where Lincoln came to be alone with his thoughts. Where he escaped the pressures of the White House and found much-needed solitude to reflect upon our history and create a visionary document that changed the course of our nation.

I don't imagine Lincoln felt "lonely" while writing that magnum opus. I imagine his mind and soul were on fire. I imagine he welcomed the opportunity to write without distractions.

I had a great life before I took off for my Year by the Water. However, like many people, I was going, going, going. There weren't many opportunities to be alone with my thoughts ... much less to reflect on them or write about them. I now have that time ... and I honor it.

Many creatives talk about their need for head space so they can do original work. Being alone is when they are able to dig deep - without interruption - and envision new ideas, original art, innovative break-throughs. It is where they access the exquisite state of flow.

Yet in today's "crazy busy" world, too few of us have time for contemplation. That's why I'm sharing these inspiring quotes about the importance of making time and space for ideation.

I hope these quotes catalyze insight - maybe even a conversation with friends and family members - about why you crave a room or road of your own to connect with your creativity.

And I hope you never again feel a need to apologize for needing space. It's not selfish, it's smart. Solitude and socialization are not mutually exclusive; they are the best of both worlds.

1. "The only time we waste is the time we spend thinking we're alone." - Mitch Albom

2. ”We need society, and we need solitude, as we need summer and winter, day and night, exercise and rest.” – Phillip G. Hamerton

3. ”Being solitary is being alone well: luxuriously immersed in doings of your own choice, aware of the fullness of your own presence rather than of the absence of others.” Alice Koller

4. ”To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude.” – Jeanne Moreau

5. ”The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” - Aldous Huxley

6. ”It is only in solitude that I ever find my own core.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh

7. ”When you acknowledge the integrity of solitude, and settle into its mystery, your relationships with others take on a new warmth, adventure and wonder.” – John O’Donahue

8. ”Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” – Barbara de Angelis

9. ”Who hears music feels his solitude peopled at once.” – Robert Browning

10. "Loneliness expresses the pain of being alone; solitude expresses the glory of being alone." - Paul Tillich

11. "Alone had always felt like an actual place to me, as if it weren't a state of being, but rather a room where I could retreat to be who I really was.” —Cheryl Strayed

Where and what is your Utah? Where do you retreat to be yourself by yourself?

Pablo Picasso said, "The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose is to give it away."

Please understand that part of of your legacy is contributing your gifts - your writing, startup, art, songs, screenplay, painting, sculpture, art, music, solutions, vision.

How, when and where will you give yourself a room - or road - of your own?

When will you temporarily "escape" from people and schedule in time for creative solitude so you can muse and mull your reflections, experiences, insights, stories?

It's not a luxury, it's a necessity. It's not indulgent, it's an investment.

Is It SELFISH To Do What Makes You HAPPY?

“My happiness is on me; so you’re off the hook.” – Byron Katie Have you ever driven California’s spectacular Pacific Coast Highway? If so, you’re familiar with its many hairpin turns. In the day, you can see what’s ahead and adapt accordingly.

But I made a big mistake and got there at dusk. And what happened taught me a BIG lesson about the dangers of a “put other people first” default.

During the day, you can look ahead and adapt to the hairpin turns. But it was pitch black with no moon, which meant I couldn't see anything. The switchbacks kept disappearing out from underneath my headlights. I had no idea what was coming next. Left. Right. Left. Left. It felt like my brain was sloshing back and forth in my skull. I completely lost my equilibrium even though I was crawling along at 15-20 mph.

I kept telling myself, “I can do this, I can do this. Three hours from now, I’ll be safe and sound in my Morro Bay hotel room.”

Suddenly, a truck zoomed up behind me and flashed its brights. I did what I’d been taught to do growing up in a small mountain valley. I looked for the next pull-out and pulled off the road to let the driver behind me go ahead.

The problem was, the pull-out was shorter than anticipated... and gravel. I started braking. I started sliding. The harder I braked, the more I slid. I finally came to a stop a few feet from the cliff’s edge.

I sat there and shook. The truck was long gone. It was just me, the deserted road, (and I know this sounds dramatic but it's true), my realization that my lifelong default of putting other people first had just about cost me my life.

Sound familiar? Is your default, “No, you go ahead. You go first.”

If you’re a parent, caregiver or leader, this may have become your norm. You may feel it’s your responsibility to put your family, your patients, your employees first.

At what cost? Putting everyone else first and yourself last is an extreme, and any extreme is unhealthy. It causes you to lose your equilibrium. To compromise your own health. To sacrifice your own happiness. And what's worse, it teaches the people around you that you believe you don’t count, that your needs don't matter.

Is that what you want to teach? Is martyrdom the model you want to pass along?

That close call on Hwy 1 made me wonder, “Where did I learn this? How did I learn this?”

Well, as with many things, it started at home. My mom was an example of unconditional love. She was also sick the last twenty years of her life, dealing with the effects of Multiple Sclerosis (which was later discovered to have been a misdiagnosed brain tumor.)

My mom was in pain almost every day. If I put my hand anywhere near her neck, I could feel the pain waves vibrating off it. Yet, she didn’t want to be “a burden” so she soldiered on. I would ask, “Can I help with dinner, Mom? Want me to do the dishes?”

“No thanks, hon, I’ve got it.”

She rarely, if ever, talked about her illness. She didn’t want to be a “complainer.” She always wanted to know what we were doing, what was going on with our lives. She never asked for anything for herself. If we offered, she usually demurred, not wanting to “put us out.”

My mom did what she thought was the right thing, at great personal cost. What we learned from her example though was probably not what she intended.

Yes, we received and learned about unconditional love, and I will always be grateful for that.

We also learned to not ask for help or accept help. We learned to be “strong” and not share our pain. We learned that the last thing we wanted to be was a “burden.” We learned that putting other people's happiness first, and not thinking of our own, was the noble thing, the right thing, to do.

Serving others IS a noble thing. And it’s even more noble when we balance it with serving ourselves. That’s what we want to model – that we take care of ourselves while taking care of others.

How about you? Are you running on empty? Burnout is a clear sign you’re not enforcing your boundaries - or that you don’t have any boundaries. Exhaustion is an indication you are putting everyone else first – and yourself last.

Next time you’re about to say "No, you go ahead. You go first," next time you're about to take yourself out of the equation, ask yourself:

· Am I putting this person’s needs first and not even considering my own?

· Am I sacrificing what I want to give this person what s/he wants?

· Is this a one-time thing – or an ongoing pattern?

· How will this impact me in the moment and over the long term?

· Is there a way I can serve this person and myself at the same time?

· How can I take responsibility for – and speak up on behalf of – my own health and happiness?

Jack Kornfield said, “If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”

Starting today, please understand, it is not selfish to put yourself in your own story, it’s smart.

It’s not indulgent to take responsibility for your own health and happiness, it’s inspiring .

Every time you do, you show it’s possible to serve others and ourselves, and you set a precedent that gives people around you permission and inspiration to do the same.


What is Your "Pause Before the POP-UP?"

I had an opportunity to attend a book event featuring William Finnegan, author of the Pulitzer Prize winner “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life.” I’d been listening to the Audible version of his book and loved his eloquent, insightful tales of growing up in Hawaii as a "haole" and then traveling the world chasing waves.

I lucked out by scoring the last ticket to his sold out program, and promptly did some research so I could ask an intelligent question if I had a chance to connect with him.

As soon as I read this Outside Magazine interview, I had my question. Reporter Matt Skenazy had asked, “Do you have a favorite moment in surfing?”

Here's the gist of what he said, “It’s the pause before the pop-up … that moment when you know you’ve got it … man, there’s nothing else like it.”

I wanted to ask, “What is the writer's equivalent of a 'pause before the pop-up?'”

What I couldn’t have anticipated is that Bill demonstrated the writer's equivalent when he read a stunning passage from his book.

He was describing a day he went surfing at "Cliffs," a popular spot near Diamond Head. As he explaied, his family members were "dutiful, if not particularly enthusiastic, Catholics." After receiving the sacrament of confirmation at age 13, he was "thunderstruck to hear my parents say I was no longer required to go to Mass."

"And so, on a spring Sunday morning, I found myself slowly paddling back through the lagoon while my family sweated it out up at Star of the Sea in Waialae. The tide was low. My skeg gently bumped on the bigger rocks. Out on the mossy, exposed reef, wearing conical straw hats, Chinese ladies, or maybe they were Filipinas, bent, collecting eels and octopus in buckets. Waves broke here and there along the reef's outer edge, too small to surf.

I felt myself floating between two worlds. There was the ocean, effectively infinite, falling away forever to the horizon. This morning it was placid, its grip on me loose and languorous. But I was lashed to its mood now. The attachments felt limitless, irresistible. I no longer thought of waves being carved in celestial workshops ...

I was a sunburnt pagan now. I felt privy to mysteries ... The other world was land: everything that was not surfing. Books, girls, school, my family, friends who did not surf. 'Society,' as I was learning to call it, and the exactions of Mr. Responsible.

Hands folded under my chin, I drifted. A bruise-colored cloud hung over Koko Head. A transistor radio twanged on a seawall where a Hawaiian family picnicked on the sand. The sun-warmed shallow water had a strange boiled-vegetable taste. The moment was immense, still, glittering, mundane. I tried to fix each of its parts in memory."

That, folks, was a “drop the pen” moment. That perfect prose-as-poetry passage could have won Bill the Pulitzer on its own merits. It was so clearly a moment where everything came together - his intelligence, exquisite observational ability, and story-telling powers partnered with the muse to produce that sensory-rich, transcendent passage.

Bill was gracious enough to sign a couple books, one for me and my son Andrew who grew up on Maui and who now lives in Brooklyn, but religiously takes his surfboard to Rockaways (via the subway!) to reconnect with the ocean. You can take the boy out of Hawaii; you can’t take Hawaii out of the boy.

My first words to Bill were, “You may have stopped going to Mass; but you didn’t stop going to church.”

He smiled and we discussed the metaphorical aspects of the “pause before the pop-up.” Here’s the gist of our conversation.

If you surf, you know that catching a wave results from a fortuitous combination of coalescing factors. You have to have the right skill, the right board, the right wave, the right positioning, the right conditions, the right weather. It all goes into the mix.

There can be wonderful waves but sometimes they’re too crowded or getting blown out by a cross-wind, or your board’s too short, or you’re in the wrong spot, or you’re tired (or too old and out of shape) and can’t paddle fast enough to match the momentum. Surfing isn’t always glorious. It’s often a lot of waiting, frustration and missed waves.

However, if you’re lucky, there are also times when a rare and much-welcomed match occurs between your skill, the board and Mother Nature. You’re in just the right position at just the right time, the elements coincide and you’re about to transition from paddling as hard as you can from a prone position to standing up on your board.

In that peak performance moment when everything comes together in a state of flow; there is a flash of simultaneous anticipation and appreciation that your hard work is about to pay off and you’re about to reap the rewards of commitment and kismet.

That is the pause before the pop-up. The writer’s equivalent? Our life equivalent?

Sometimes we grind. Our work becomes hard, frustrating, mundane. The words (funding, success, results) won’t come. We don’t have the skills, tools or right conditions to create what we want. We’re tempted to give up. We’re not sure our efforts will ever pay off.

Then there are those sublime times when everything comes together and we write (or perform or present) better than we know how. We have the right idea, the right time and place, the right experience and expertise, and everything starts flowing easily and effortlessly. We see the story, become the story. We’re no longer over-thinking it; we’re in service to what wants to be said. We’re riding a wave of momentum.

These are the penultimate moments when the right conditions converge, our commitment is rewarded and we know we're about to succeed in experiencing the vision that's been in our head.

Those “immense, glittering moments” (Bill’s term) keep us coming back, make it all worthwhile, are the "cosmic reward."

How about you? Are you grinding away on a project and feeling only the frustration of invested effort that doesn't seem commensurate with results?

Could you instead stay alert to “pause before the pop-up” moments?

Could you remember a kismet experience of matched momentum where you performed better than you knew how - and tell yourself, "I've done it before. I can do it again?"

Could you understand that if you keep your antenna up for it - there will come a time where all the elements come together and your time, effort and hard work will pay off?

And when it does, can you promise yourself you will look around, appreciate it and imprint it so you can re-visit it in your mind whenever you want, as often as you want?



“No more pain .. no more game… noone’s gonna make me hurt again.” - Excerpts from lyrics to Mary J. Blige song No More Drama A woman raised her hand in one of my Tongue Fu! workshops and said, “I’m so mad at my landlord, I can hardly think straight.”

I asked, “What happened?”

“She accused me of not paying my rent. This really bothers me because I always pay on time and she’s insinuating I’m a liar.”

“Didn’t she get your check?”

“That’s the thing. I pay in cash. We both travel a lot so I put it in a drawer in the kitchen so it’s waiting for her when she comes back. She claims she didn’t get it.”

“I can see why this would be upsetting. What’s happening now?”

“I told her exactly where I put it and when. She texted back this morning that her son had picked it up and said, ‘My bad.' That may be her way of apologizing but to my mind she’s taking this way too casually.”

“So, what are you going to do to keep this from happening again?”

“Well, I’ll pay with a check from now on so I have a paper trail and can prove I paid. The thing is, I’m still so upset about this, I don’t even know if I want to continue living there.”

We talked through a decision-making matrix that helped her realize that, other than this one incident, she liked the house and wouldn’t be able to find something comparable so wanted to stay. The thing was, she needed to find a way to mentally move on.

I said, “The first thing is to drop, ‘I can’t stop thinking about what she did.’ The more you say that, the more you think about the very think you don’t want to think about. The goal is to replace a "drama story" with a "karma story."

She said, “Like ... ‘What a ditz.”

Everyone in the room laughed.

I said,” Well, that would switch the attention off your reaction and onto her mishandling of the situation. The thing is, if you want to stay in the house, you might want to come up with a more helpful story that will lead to a better relationship. Maybe she was under a lot of stress, acted without thinking and didn’t mean to offend you. Maybe this was an act of omission not of commission. How about saying to yourself, “Give her some grace.”

“I could do that, but she was the one out-of-line.”

“That may be true. However, the incident is over. Dwelling on it serves no good purpose.

Reliving drama keeps it LARGE AND ALIVE. It’s in your best interests to SHRINK THAT STORY and make it SMALL AND OVER.

The way to do that is to have a pro-active, positive mantra like “NEXT” that helps you mentally move on and focus on what’s right in your life instead of what’s wrong.

How about you?

Has someone said or done something to you that was unfair, unkind or undeserved?

Have you found yourself re-living what happened and getting more and more upset?

Have you tried to stop thinking about it, but can’t?”

If so, take these steps.

1. Speak up to correct the situation vs. suffering in silence. More on how to do that here.

2. Take tangible steps to prevent this from happening again.

3. Replace “That person makes me so mad” or “I can’t stop thinking about this” with:

· “It’s over. NEXT.”

· “Oh well. ONWARD.”

· “Shrink it. MOVE ON.”

Henry David Thoreau said, “Life consists of what a man is thinking all day long.”

We may not be able to control what is said or done to us, we CAN control how long we choose to dwell on the drama and what we choose to tell ourselves about it.

Select thoughts/stories that serve rather than sabotage your quality of life.

It’s one of the single best thinks we can do.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create mutually-repsectful commyunications. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and on NPR, and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco. Want Sam to speak for your group? Contact


What Voice are You Listening To?

"There are always two voices sounding in our ears – the voice of FEAR and the voice of CONFIDENCE. One is the clamor of the senses, the other is the whispering of the higher self.” – Charles Newcomb I love Newcomb’s quote because it captures the emotions we experience when facing new situations and making important decisions at Crucial Crossroads.

We can give in to the clamor of the senses or honor the whispering of our higher self and move our life forward – for good.

The importance of this was dramatically demonstrated in an outing I took with my friend Leslie years ago on New Year’s Day.

I was still living in Hawaii at the time. The winter surf was booming so we ventured out to the North Shore of Oahu to tackle the waves at Hawaii’s famous Waimea Bay.

Leslie and I were both strong swimmers. I paticipanted in the Waikiki Rough Water Swim and Leslie was a “fish” who was completely comfortable in the water. Plus, we were only going to the inside set, not out by the jetty where the really big waves were.

But still . . .

Leslie and I stood on the beach with our boogie boards, wondering, “Should we go in . . . shouldn’t we go in?”

If we went in, we could get turned inside out, upside down and deposited on the beach.

On the other hand, we could have an incredibly exhilarating experience, the thrill of a lifetime.

Twenty minutes later, we were still standing on the beach, wondering, “Should we . . . . shouldn’t we . . . should we . . . . shouldn’t we?”

We finally looked at each other simultaneously and said, “Let’s go in. We’ll never know standing out here.”

I remember as if it were yesterday working our way out past that surf line, hanging onto our boards, gazing out towards the horizon with a mixture of awe and what-have-we done?

An impressive set rolled toward us. We looked at each other wide-eyed, filled with equal parts of excitement and anxiety, wondering whether to go for it. We knew once we committed, there was no turning back. You can’t tell an 8 foot wave, “Sorry, I changed my mind.”

We decided to go for it. We kicked as hard as we could to match the speed of the wave and caught it. The swell lifted us up and shot us forward. Whoosh.

I remember sliding down the face of that wave, cutting back and forth as we rode it all the way in until we scraped our bellies on the beach.

We looked at each other, grinning from ear to ear, nodded in agreement and went back out for another shot of adrenaline. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life. I will always be glad we listened to the voice of confidence instead of the voice of fear.

Are you at a Crucial Crossroads? Do you want to try something new - speak at a conference, launch a startup, write a book, ask for a promotion, go back to college, train for a 10K?

Are you standing on the beach going, “Should I . . .shouldn’t I . . . should I . . . shouldn’t I?’

You’ll never know standing on the beach.

We're not here to stand on the shore, giving in to doubts. We're here to GO IN.

Soren Kierkegaard said, “We always experience anxiety whenever we confront the potential of our own development.”

Do what makes you anxious; don’t do what makes you depressed.

I have never met anyone who regretted listening to the voice of confidence instead of the voice of fear. We don't regret going for our dreams – even if they don't turn out the way we anticipated.

When we act on our hopes (instead of our doubts) and reach out for what puts the light on in our eyes, we feel an inner sense of rightness, “This is how I’m supposed to feel.”

When we retreat, withdraw and give in to fear, the lights goes out. We feel safe, but sorry.

When we believe in our self and bet on our self, things just keep getting better and better.

Sometime this week you’ll come to a Crucial Crossroad. You'll be called to do something that resonates with you, that aligns with the person you want to be, you know you can be.

Which voice will you choose to listen to?

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO/Founder of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create compelling communications that add value for all involved. Check out her books and TEDx talk on INTRIGUE. Discover why her work has been featured in NY Times, Forbes, INC, Fast Company and presented to Intel, Cisco, NASA, Accenture, Capital One, YPO and EO.


There is No Such Thing as a NORMAL Day

Have you heard about Burning Man – or been there? My son Andrew and his wife Miki Agrawal were “Burning Man” married several years ago, and said, “You must go.”

So, I am.

You may know of the “Gifting” philosophy of The Playa. It’s part of the culture – the Ten Principles of Burning Man – that were articulated by co-founder Larry Harvey.

Imagine that. A sharing, radical inclusion economy … in the desert amidst the Art Cars.

I wondered what I could gift that might be meaningful and decided to memorize ten poems about the meaning of life. When I meet people, if they’re interested, they’re welcome to select a poem that resonates with them.

I’ll share it and then ask, “What does this mean for you?” I am smiling at the thought of the intriguing conversations this might lead to …

Here’s an example of a poem I’ll be sharing on the Playa. It’s authored by Mary Jean Irion:

“Normal day,

let me be aware of the treasure you are.

Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.

Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.

Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so.

One day I shall dig my nails into the earth,

or bury my face in the pillow,

or stretch myself taut,

or raise my hands to the sky

and want, more than all the world,

your return.”

Every single time I re-read Mary Jean Irion’s poem, my soul says “Yes, yes, yes.”

How about you?

Are you rushing through life in search of some rare and perfect tomorrow?

Are you so busy, you don’t have the time to look around and imprint, appreciate and enjoy this day?

When you think about it, there really are no normal days.

Every day we’re alive is a gift.

Every day we can see, smell, taste, touch, hear, feel, think and love is a gift.

Let us not race by this day.

Let us not be so caught up in our deadlines and to-do’s that we miss it.

Let us pause right now, look around, and really see all that’s right with our world.

Let us understand that what we’re seeing and experiencing might not always be so.

But it is so,

right here,

right now,

if we just open our heart, mind, and eyes to it,

if we are present to it and grateful for it,

instead of waiting for a special day or for SOMEDAY.


What Are You WAITING For?

"It gets late early out there." - Yogi Berra A participant at a recent conference asked in the Q & A, "How did you come up with the title of your upcoming book Someday is not a day in the week"

I told her, "I've met so many people over the past few years who talked about what they were going to do ... someday.

Whether it was take more time for their family, take better care of themselves, or pursue a passion project ... they told me they planned (or hoped) to do it when they're not so busy, when their kids go off to college, when they retire, when they have more money, when things aren't so crazy at work ... fill in the blank.

I shared Henry Miller's quote with the group, 'Life, for many of us, is one long postponement" and told them that many of us wait for perfect circumstances to take action on our dreams and passion projects.

The problem with that? Our future is not guaranteed. The longer we wait, the more likely it is we'll never do what we want to do and we'll end up with regrets."

How about you? What is something you want to do you've been postponing? What is something meaningful that could fill your life with joy, purpose and meaning?

Please read and re-read Paulo Coelho's quote, "One day you're going to wake up and there won't be any time left to do the things you've always wanted to do."

It's time to stop waiting and start initiating. You will never regret doing more of what puts the light on in your eyes, you will only regret not doing it sooner.

You don't have to quit your job or abandon your responsibilities, just do one thing each week that makes you like your life. It doesn't have to be grandiose. Just one thing you enjoy and look forward to that makes you a bit happier and healthier."

You might want to read the quotes below and select one that really sings to you. Print it out or write it out and tape it to your laptop or post it above your desk or on your frig. Keep it in sight, in mind so you keep your promise to make the rest of your life the best of your life.

"May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

"You can't be that kid standing at the top of the water slide, over-thinking it. You've got to go down the chute." - Tina Fey

"If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't; you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

"Are you doing what you're doing today because it works; or because it's what you were doing yesterday?" - Dr. Phil McGraw

"Our life expands or contracts in proportion to our courage." - Anais Nin

"Let us always be open to the miracle of a second chance." - Rev. David Steir

"I have heard every excuse in the book, except a good one." - Bob Greene

"Are you putting aside what you want most for what you want now?" - Zig Ziglar

"It is only possible to live happily ever after on a day-to-day basis." - M. W. Bonano

"I want adventure in the great wide somewhere." - Belle from Beauty in the Beast

"Don't just follow your dreams; launch them." - Sam Horn

"The trouble is, you think you have time." -Buddha

"Everything you want is on the other side of fear." - Jack Canfield

"Once you've done the mental work, there comes a point you have to throw yourself into action and put your heart on the line." - Phil Jackson

"Perhaps we never really appreciate anything until it is challenged." - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"When we neglect what matters most to us, then that becomes what's the matter with us." -Paula Reeves

"The scariest moment is always right before you start." - Stephen King

"To feel, think, love and learn; surely that is being alive and young in the real sense."- Freya Stark

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change we seek." - Barack Obama

"Some people get stuck because they keep telling themselves stories about how stuck they are." - Anonymous

"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending." - C.S. Lewis

"We are what we settle for." - Janis Joplin

"Tomorrow is another day. But so was yesterday." - Rene Ricard

"Nothing will work, unless you do." - Maya Angelou

"I shall tell you a great secret, my friend. Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day." - Albert Camus

"The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot." - M. Altschuler

"Don't tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be." - Esther Hicks

"The most important things aren't things." - Ann Landers

"We don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with you one wild and precious life?" - Mary Oliver

"I didn't change. I just woke up." - Pinterest post (I wrote about this here.)

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." - Pablo Picasso (Also attributed to David Viscott)

"Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan

"My parents always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinated so much. I told them, 'Just you wait.'" - Judy Tenuta

"Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun." - Randy Pausch (Click here to discover why many of us only have FUN when our work is DONE).

Please understand, one of these days is none of these days.

Hope this post and these quotes inspire you to set something in motion today that creates a life that's more in alignment with your values and true priorities.

Remember, we're never too OLD for NEW dreams ... and there is no present like the time - and no time like the present - to do more of what puts the light on in your eyes.


Do You Believe in Bucket Lists?

"The ancient Egyptians had a beautiful belief about death. When your soul got to heaven, the gods asked two questions, "Have you found joy in your life? Has your life brought joy to others?" - from the movie The Bucket List Where do you stand on the “Great Bucket List Debate?”

Joe Queenan wrote a Wall Street Journal article titled It’s Time to Kick the Bucket List that's triggered a passionate debate online.

Some of the thought-provoking nuggets in his essay include:

• "Nobody needs to go falconing in Mongolia or ride on the back of a nurse shark in Alaska for their life to be complete. They need to raise kids who won’t grow up to hate them. Or take care of their aging mother and make sure she gets a nice send-off."

• “Bucket lists can become obsessive, expensive, painful. They create the impression that life is not so much something to be lived and enjoyed as a series of obligations to be checked off."

• "Get to know where you live better. Forget Mount Fuji, Mount Everest, Mont Saint-Michel. If you live in New York but have never been to Rockaway Beach, Fire Island or the waterfalls in Patterson, N.J,. get cracking."

• "A proper bucket list should be short and highly selective. It’s a bucket list, not a laundry list."

When I asked people on my #LinkedIn page what they thought about bucket lists, I received fascinating responses.

Some believe bucket lists are "abhorrent" because they're "morbid and deathly." One said "Bucket lists are for bucket heads." Others say they're a way to "start with the end in mind" and can be an incredibly motivating way to do what matters now so we prevent regrets.

What say you?

Do you have a bucket list?

Yes? Why?

No? Why not?

If you do, what's on it?

What purpose does a bucket list serve in your life?

Other comments?

Let's create a forum on this topic. Eager to hear what you think and explore the pro's and con's of whether bucket lists are worth having.


My Story Isn't Over Yet

Did you know Serena Williams: * is playing in her 10th Wimbledon women’s singles final tomorrow?

* was fighting for her life ten months ago after giving birth to her first child?

* had blood clot complications following her emergency C-section - and the subsequent surgeries and recovery left her so debilitated that “walking to the mailbox was a struggle?”

* suffered potential career-ending injuries in 2011, including two foot surgeries and a pulmonary embolism, and didn’t know if she'd “get out of the hospital,” much less play tennis again?

Yet, Serena has not only bounced back from those health challenges, she is poised to go for her 30th Grand Slam tournament title (including doubles, the most of anyone).

I can only imagine Serena was tempted to give up when she was hurting, when she could hardly walk, when she was enduring the grueling physical therapy and training workouts to regain her health and get back into playing condition.

It would have been so easy to give up when the odds were against her and it all looked so bleak.

But she wasn’t finished. As she says, “My story isn’t over yet."

Serena wasn’t willing to turn her back on her talent. She believed she still had greatness in her, more championships to win, even though she was in the desert of her dream.

Instead of abandoning her dreams, she re-dedicated herself and chose to use those setbacks and challenges as an INCENTIVE instead of as an EXCUSE.

As a result of fighting for what’s important to her, she’s reached a well-deserved oasis of success that's not a mirage; it is a hard-won reality.

She is reaping the rewards of persevering through the dark days … even when there were no guarantees.

How about you? Are you in the desert of your dream?

Are things not working out the way you hoped? Have you received bad news? Are people not seeing what you’re seeing, not believing what you’re believing?

If you’re a startup or small business owner, are you not making the money you need?

If you work in an organization, are you not getting the projects or promotions you deserve?

If you’re out of work, are you not getting the interviews, call-backs or offers you deserve?

Could you “pull a Serena” and persevere through the desert of your dream?

Could you tell yourself, "My story's not over yet."

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

Every successful person will tell you there were setbacks along the way that, at the time, seemed unsurmountable, that could have drained their confidence and caused them to quit.

Instead, they chose to transcended doubts and live forward. In doing so, they re-established momentum and moved closer to achieving what they envisioned in their heart and mind's eye.

As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”

He also said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

If you are facing setbacks, if you are in the desert of your dream, remember the shining example of Serena Williams.

See those setbacks as incentive rather than as an excuse.

Believe in your dream. Believe in yourself. Believe that what you want matters. And then, continue. Always continue.

P.S. I know where I'll be tomorrow morning ... watching the person #Nike and #TheNewYorker both called "The Greatest Athlete of our Time" play at #Wimbledon and show us what it takes to be a true champion. How about you?


Turn Worrying into Wishing

"Complaining chases away inspiration." - Elizabeth Gilbert Elizabeth Gilbert is right. Not only do complaining, worrying and regretting chase away inspiration - they kill dreams and are a total misuse of imagination.

While on my Year by the Water, many people told me they dreamed of going on an adventure like that. When I asked why they weren't, they said they had too many responsibilities. They'd do it "someday" when they had more time, money or freedom.

I'll always remember an exhausted young mom with two children who told me she was tapped out, "I've got so much on my plate, dreaming just isn't an option for me right now."

I said, "Want good news? No matter how tired you are, you have mind time when you go to bed - the 5-50 minutes before you fall to sleep. You're laying there anyway, might as well put your imagination to work for you instead of tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling. What do you think about when you go to bed?'

"Everything that's wrong. The kids fighting. The bills mounting up. How much I hate my job."

I said, "From now on, instead of focusing on what frustrates you, focus on what would fulfill you. This is called awake dreaming and it's a more proactive use of mind-time."

She said, "Okay, that makes sense. As you said replaying what's wrong doesn't change it, it just keeps me up and makes me feel worse. So, how do I do this awake dreaming?"

Picture something you'd like to achieve or experience. Then, think through the 5 W's.

What? What is something you would look forward to that would inspire you and add personal meaning and fulfillment to your days? What can you do to move this forward? What knowledge, skills or resources do you need to turn this dream into a reality? What results do you want? What does successful completion of this look like to you?

Why? Why will this be enjoyable, uplifting, rewarding, worthwhile? Why will it contribute to a quality life, help you add value for others, be part of a legacy you want to leave?

Who? Who can you brainstorm this with? Who has been there, done this and can share their lessons-learned? Who could hear you out and be an advocate or a supportive sounding board? Who could connect you with an investor, a potential partner or team members?

When? When will you do this, launch this, finish this? If you don't put specific dates on the calendar - or schedule them into your day-timer - it's probably not going to happen. As my mom used to say, "That which can be done at any time rarely gets done at all." Increase accountable and the likelihood of success by assigning metrics and numbers to your dream.

Where? Where is the location this will take place? Put yourself in the scene. Imagine yourself crossing the finish line of that 10K, sailing the bay, walking across the stage with that diploma, having a picnic in your local park with neighborhood parents and their kids.

As Gloria Steinem points out, "Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning."

How about you? What do you think about when you go to bed? Starting tonight, instead of regretting what did go wrong, complaining about what is wrong, or worrying what could go wrong, put your mind time to work for you by actively dreaming about what you do want vs. what you don't.

Remember, it's never too late to be who you want to be.

Dreaming costs nothing. Not dreaming costs everything.

You might want to print out the following quotes out and put them on your nightstand. Before you go to bed, review them to remind yourself to use your imagination - for good.

16 Quotes to Put Your Imagination and Mind-Time to Work For You vs. Against You

1. "Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein

2. "Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious." - Thomas Edison

3. "The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." - Eleanor Roosevelt

4. "Imagination is the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is not; it is the foundation of all invention and innovation." - novelist J. K. Rowling

5. "Dreamers are mocked as impractical. The truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all of us.” - Robin S. Sharma

6. "Imagination has no age. Dreams are forever." - Walt Disney

7. "There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of people you love." - actress Sophia Loren

8. “When I am completely myself, entirely alone during the night when I cannot sleep, it is on such occasions that my ideas flow best and most abundantly." - Mozart

9. Each man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet." - Victor Hugo

12. "Imagination is the true magic carpet." - Norman Vincent Peale

13. "So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable." - Christopher Reeves

14. "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose." - Dr. Seuss

15. "Imagination is nothing without doing." - Charles Chaplin

16. "A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities." - J. R. R. Tolkein

When Lupito Nyong'o won her Academy Award, she looked straight into the camera and into the eyes of millions of people watching around the globe and said, "No matter where you're from, your dreams are valid."

Not only are dreams valid, they're a valuable way to turn what you mentally see into reality.

So, the question is, what are you going to think about tonight when you go to bed? Are you going to complain or create? Focus on what frustrates you or what would fulfill you?


Make Up Your Mind to be Kind

I've been thinking a lot about what's going on in our world - and imagine you have too. I kept wondering, "What can I do that might help?" and was moved to write this about how we can make up our mind to be kind.

I welcome your insights.

Do you ever get discouraged by man’s inhumanity to man?

It can be discouraging to watch the news and witness yet another tragedy, scandal or man-made disaster.

Yet complaining about it, or being outraged by it, hurts rather than helps … unless we actively try to improve it.

The thing is, we don’t always have the ability to change what’s happening on the world stage. We feel powerless to fix what’s wrong, to make things better.

The good news is, there are ways to make things better.

Paying attention to, and contributing to, what’s right with the world can make things better for us and everyone around us.

As Jose Ortega y Gasset said, “Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are.”

The challenge is, many of us have become so stressed, so angry, we no longer even notice what’s right with the world; we no longer even see man’s HUMANITY to man.

This point was brilliantly made in an article by Gene Weingarten in the Washington Post. I remember reading Pearls Before Breakfast on a Sunday morning years ago and was so inspired, I set the magazine down and said out loud, “Just give the man the Pulitzer.”

Weingarten wondered, “What would happen if you took a renowned violinist and positioned him inside a D.C Metro Stop during morning rush hour?

What if you asked him to play six compositions, each masterpieces that have endured for centuries, on a rare Stradivarius?

Would any of the hundreds of people streaming by take a moment to pay attention to a free concert by one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made?”

Guess what happened?

In the forty-five minutes Joshua Bell played, (yes, the multi-talented Joshua Bell who packs them in at concert halls around the globe), only 7 (!) people took a moment away from their rush-hour commute to listen to his performance.

The other 1070 people all rushed by, seemingly oblivious to the miracle in their midst.

Weingarten’s point? Have we become so uptight and driven that we have lost the ability to see the beauty around us? He quoted W.H. Davies who said, “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stop and stare."

Weingarten made another stunning observation, “There was no demographic pattern to distinguish the few people who paused to listen except … every time a child walked past, s/he tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.”

Hmmm. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

Kudos to Gene Weingarten for his visionary social experiment. (And he did get a Pulitzer for it). Please take the time to read Pearls Before Breakfast and ask yourself:

· Would I have paused and taken a moment to listen to Bell?

· Why or why not?

· Have I become inured to the beauty around me?

· At what cost?

· What can I do to be more attentive to, and appreciative of, the beauty in the world?

Starting today, instead of dwelling on or obsessing about the news, which primarily reports man’s inhumanity to man, choose to give your attention to what’s uplifting, inspiring and enlightening.

Keep your antenna up for examples of humankind – man’s humanity to man.

Notice and thank the people who are making a positive difference … the parents, teachers, entrepreneurs, servers, community leaders who treat others with respect and are dedicated to living in integrity and adding value.

When we choose to honor and BE humanKIND – we expand it. And when we expand it, we make it more of the norm. And isn't that what we all want?

Want another example of humanKIND?

Have you ever had the chicken-skin experience of singing in a choir or hearing a concert of hundreds of voices lifted in song?

Well, composer Eric Whitacre thought, “What if I gathered people from 73 countries around the world – online – and conducted a virtual choir with thousands of people all singing the same song at the same time?”

Take a few moments to listen to the transcendent results of Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir 2 “Water Night.”

Do it right now. Don’t pass by this shining example of man’s humanity to man. Act on your insight from Weingarten's article. Bring some beauty into your life now, not someday.

I promise, for the moments you listen to this, you will be immersed in what’s right with our world - right here, right now.

You will be swept up in the joy of human harmony.

You will see the world in a more positive, proactive, high-potential light.

And when you do that, when you celebrate and share what’s beautiful in the world, when you make up your mind to be kind, you create a rising tide raising all humanKIND.

And that benefits all of us.


What Are You SETTLING For?

"The minute you SETTLE for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for." - Maureen Dowd Have you been reasonable and responsible for so long, you habitually give up what calls you? What toll is SETTLING taking on your quality of life?

I was headed to Los Angeles to work with some consulting clients. As I scrolled through the hotel options on Expedia, I noticed a deep discount on the Jamaican Inn in Marina Del Ray, only ten minutes from LAX.

Let's see. A box hotel by the airport or a boutique hotel on the water for the same price? What shall I do, what shall I do? Suffice it to say I went with the more innovative option.

While checking in, the front desk clerk asked, "Where you from?"

"I'm in the middle of my Year by the Water."

"What's that?"

She was so intrigued with my adventure, she spontaneously upgraded me to a waterfront suite. I walked into the magnificent room and straight out onto the balcony. It was golden hour, that magical time of day right before the sun sets. I looked out at the palm trees and the boats, breathed in the sea air and marveled at the pelicans doing majestic fly-bys.

In the middle of my reverie, a friend called for our monthly checkin. Glenna could tell from my voice how happy I was and asked, "What's going on?" I told her how much I loved being in this stunning room with its thrilling view of the marina.

Glenna was puzzled. She said, “Sam, you’re on your Year by the Water. Don’t you normally stay on the water?”

I told her I was on a budget and often opted for less expensive back-of-the-property rooms instead of the higher-priced rooms with a view. She paused, then said, “Wouldn’t you rather spend six months overlooking the water than twelve months overlooking the parking lot?”

Yes I would, Glenna. Yes I would.

Think of this as a metaphor. It isn't just about which hotel room we select.

The essence of Glenna's insight was, "Have we been sensible and emotionally and fiscally frugal for so long, we no longer even ask for what would make us happy? Are we settling for parking lots when waterfront rooms are what we really want?"

I understand the importance of being responsible, realistic and reasonable. Yet many of us are doing this to a fault. We have become so accustomed to compromising what we want and settling for less, it has become our default.

Many of the people I met on my travels and interviewed for my SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week book told me it's been so long since they've had the freedom to do what makes them happy, they no longer know what that is.

How about you? Have you been sacrificing what you want, or putting everyone else first for so long, you've forgotten what it feels like to do what calls you - even for an hour or a day?

At some level, do you think you can't afford to do what makes you happy?

Janis Joplin said, "We are what we settle for."

Notice, she didn't say we GET what we settle for. She said we ARE what we settle for.

What are you settling for?

Granted, as leaders, parents and partners, we need to put other people's needs first most of the time. However, we need to balance our service to others with service to ourselves.

Doing what we really want - once in a while - is a gift that keeps on giving.

I can hardly describe how happy it makes me to be in, on and around water. It makes my soul sing and my mind soar. It set up a happiness ripple effect that positively affects me, and everyone around me, for days.

What does that for you? What sets up a happiness ripple effect? One way to update the "settle default" and tap back into buried, compromised or sacrificed wants, needs and dreams is to ask yourself:

* What if I could play hooky for a day or an afternoon?

* What would I do, where would I go, if there were no repercussions and all my responsibilities would be taken care of?

* What would I do if I didn't have to be sensible, if I didn't have to settle?

* What would I do if I could afford it?

The answer(s) to those questions can reveal a "calling activity" that would lift your spirits and give you something joyful to look forward to.

Life isn’t supposed to be a drudge. We are meant to be happy. Doing what puts the light on in our eyes - making time for a calling activity - isn’t indulgent, it’s inspiring.

I am not suggesting we can - or should - do what we want ALL the time. We continue to take care of, and be financially and emotionally responsible to, the people counting on us.

Yet we also take care of ourselves. And that means doing what makes our soul sing and our mind soar every once in a while – without apology or guilt.

That means getting in, on or around water (or whatever lifts your spirits and makes your soul smile) instead of giving up what you really want and settling for the parking lot.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker - has the best of all worlds. Her work has been featured in NY Times and on NPR, taught to NASA, Intel, Boeing, YPO, Accenture, and she helps clients create one-of-a-kind books, TEDx talks, brands. Contact to work with Sam or arrange for her to speak to your group.