Someday is not a day in the week

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. https://www.eventbrite.com/organizer/overview/

 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. 

  • https://www.intrigueagency.com/serendestinycom/2019/4/1/readers-guide-for-sam-horns-someday-is-not-a-day-in-the-week

  • 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 Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com 


Are You Putting Your Dreams on Hold?

Palliative care nurse Bonnie Ware asked people at the end of their life their #1 regret. Know what it was?

“I wish I’d had the COURAGE to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”

Does this resonate with you? Why?

The question is, What are you going to do about it? When are you going to do something about it?

And please don't say, "Someday."

If there's anything I've learned in the past few years, it's that SOMEDAY is not a day in the week. SOMEDAY is a path to - and a prescription for - regrets.

I'm speaking from experience.

Several years ago, I promised myself I'd "pull a John Grisham" and write first thing every morning. That's what Grisham did before he hit it big with his bestselling books. His dream was to write novels, but he was a full-time lawyer raising a family. He could have told himself he was "too busy to write." Instead, he got up at 5 am every day and wrote before he went into work. He's now living his dream because he bet on it instead of putting it on hold.

If only I'd had the clarity and discipline of John Grisham. My good intentions to write every morning lasted a few weeks, then I hit the road for a month of speaking engagements. The next thing I knew my writing project was on the shelf ... again.

It took a health scare for me to finally stop postponing my dream to make writing a priority.

I’d been battling a respiratory infection for weeks, but “soldiered” through it because I had places to be, people counting on me. I kept hoping it would get better. It didn’t.

One morning I was so sick I couldn’t get out of bed. A friend rushed me to Urgent Care. After checking my lungs and reviewing my X-rays, the doctor diagnosed Walking Pneumonia. While writing out the prescription, he asked, “Why did you wait so long to get this taken care of?”

I made some mealy-mouthed excuse about being too busy to go to the doctor. He shrugged and said, “You’re lucky. I’m giving you a Z-pack and you’ll be better in ten days. But this was a warning. If you don’t start taking better care of yourself, your body will do something more drastic to get your attention.”

Well, that got my attention and gave me enough incentive to turn my “Someday I'm going to ...” into a “Today I will...”

What Are You Postponing?

“Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.” – Henry Miller

The question is, why did I postpone what was calling me? Why do so many of us procrastinate on our dreams and true priorities when we know they would make us happier and healthier?

We’re supposed to know better, right? Yet many of us continue to put off what’s important to us, idealistically assuming we’ll always have the option to do them later.

A young father named Jeff told me, “I don’t dream anymore. It’s too painful. I just keep my head down, put one foot in front of the other, and do the best I can.”

Ouch. When I asked what he meant, he said, “I love my family. I really do. But my life is nothing like I thought it would be. My wife and I both work full time. One of our sons has special needs. He never sleeps through the night so we're both exhausted. Maybe someday I’ll have the luxury to do more of what I want, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Jeff’s story was a variation of what many people have told me, “Doing what I want is just not an option. I’ve got too many obligations to think about that now.”

How about you? Do you feel your life is not your own? Do you feel your current situation is “just the way it is” and there's nothing you can do about it?

No. It’s not “just the way it is.” Certainly, there are some things beyond our control. Having a child with special needs is beyond our control. Having a parent with dementia is beyond our control. Our company going bankrupt and putting us out of work is beyond our control.

Yet, as Victor Frankl pointed out in his classic Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing - the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

In other words, we may not be able to control what happens to us; we can control what we do about it. You have more autonomy than you think. You may not be able to change your circumstances, you can change the way you deal with them.

The Most Frequently-Given Reasons for Why We Put Our Dreams on Hold

“Do you know the #1 prerequisite for change? A sense of urgency.” – John Kotter Please take a moment to look over the reasons below that people give for not doing more of what they want. Please ask yourself if any of these are true for you.

1. TIME: Are you waiting until you have more time to do what you want? Please understand, you'll never have more time than you have right now. As John Legend says, “The future is already here and we’re already late.”

2. MONEY: CNN Money reports, “78% of Americans say they live paycheck to paycheck.” Some people tell me they don't have enough money to do what they want. Please reframe that. You can be wealthy in what really matters for free. I was in a park yesterday watching a young couple with their toddler. They were blowing bubbles and having a grand time. I thought, “They could have paid thousands of dollars to travel to Disneyland and they wouldn’t be having a better time than they’re having right here, right now.” As Garth Brooks says, “You’re not wealthy until you have something money can’t buy.”

3. FAMILY RESPONSIBILITES: A woman told me, “I took a golden parachute deal from my company so I could retire early. What I didn’t anticipate was both my parents would be diagnosed with dementia. I’m now a full-time caregiver. This is not how I envisioned spending my fifties and sixties.” How about you? Are you so busy taking care of everyone else, there’s no time or energy left for you? Please understand, taking an hour a week do do something that makes you happy isn't selfish, it's smart. As Byron Katie says, "My happiness is on me, so you're off the hook."

4. WORK PRIORITIES: A Gallup poll reports “72% of people are uninspired and unhappy at work, yet 52% don’t take their full paid vacation.” What’s that about? Stanford professor Denise Brosseau told me, “In the Silicon Valley, it’s almost a badge of honor to ‘sleep under your desk.’ Sixty-hour weeks are the norm.” How about you? Does all your work have to be done before you make time for fun? Please understand, it's not indulgent to carve out time for fun; it's an investment in your mental and physical well-being.

5. HEALTH CHALLENGES: Are you dealing with aches, pains, a disability, injury or illness? Or, are you not exercising or eating right, but you're promising yourself you’ll take better care of yourself after the weekend's over? One way to make your life more of what you want it to be now is to start appreciating your "freedom of motion." Here's how.

6. FEAR OF CHANGE: Change can be scary. Know what’s scarier? Regrets. The good news is, change doesn't require courage - it requires clarity. Clarity that life is supposed to be an adventure and it's waiting for us to make the most of it. As author Louis L’Amour said, “We can’t learn anything from experiences we’re not having.”

7. “I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WANT.” A friend delivered the commencement address at her alma mater. The graduates took the stage for a group photo and, with a grand flourish, opened their robes to reveal t-shirts underneath that said, “I don’t know.” Sound familiar? It’s hard to go after what we want if we don’t know what we want. This 4 Boxes of Happiness Quiz can help kick-start your clarity.

It’s Never Too Late – Or Too Early – to Change Things for Good

“Things don’t get better by chance, they get better by change.” – Jim Rohn

Did you relate to any of the above reasons? Please understand, even if these reasons have been true for you in the past, they don’t have to be true for you in the future.

One of the many wonderful things about being a human being is we can change for good - on any given day. All we have to do is identify one thing we’re going to do differently and attach a sense of urgency to it so we’re motivated to do it now, not in the far off future.

One of my favorite success stories about this happened in a conference breakout session in Waikiki. A woman named Beverly raised her hand in the Q & A and said, “I’ve been to motivational programs before. I go home all fired up, then life intervenes, and two weeks later everything is back to same old, same old. Any suggestions?”

I told her, “Have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency."

She said, "What's that?"

"An S.E.E. is a Significant Emotional Event. Unfortunately, most are dramatic or traumatic. We get sick, divorced, or fired which forces us to re-evaluate the way we’re living. We realize there are no guarantees which motivates us to focus on what matters now. The way I see it, why not have a pretend S.E.E. so we get the epiphany without the pain?”

“What’s an example of a pretend S.E.E.?”

“We can do one right here, right now. Just ask yourself, “If I only had a week to live, what would I stop doing? What would I start doing? What would I do differently?”

“You’re asking us to imagine we’re going to croak in a week? Isn’t that a bit morbid?”

I smiled, “Thinking about our mortality isn’t morbid; it’s motivating. Sometimes it’s just the incentive we need to stop taking our life, health, loved ones and freedoms for granted.”

She said, “Okay, I’ll play along. If I only had a week to live, I would stop letting fear rule my life and start doing things that scare me.”

“Like what?”

“Like going into the ocean. I watched JAWS when I was a kid. Big mistake. Here I am in Hawaii and I haven’t even gone into the water.”

I said, “Okay, let’s hack that fear. One way to hack fears is to realize they don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right.

Do you know about the protected swim area by the Natatorium where Duke Kahanamoku used to swim? It’s only three feet deep so there’s no way you can get in over your head, and there’s only one small opening in the sea wall so the surf can’t get in … and neither can the sharks. The key to overcoming procrastination is to put a ‘do date’ on the calendar so you don’t wiggle out of your intentions. When are you leaving the islands?”

“We fly out in two days.”

“Then tomorrow is the day. Schedule a 6 a.m. wake-up call. When the alarm goes off and you’re tempted to roll over and go back to sleep, ask yourself, ‘What will matter a year from now? That I got an extra hour of sleep? Or that I got up, got outside and had a one-of-a-kind experience I’ll always be grateful for?”

“It’s worth a try. But why 6 am?”

“Because sunrise is at 6:30 am and you want to be at water’s edge, ready to step into the ocean the moment the sun rises over Diamond Head. It will be what Hawaiians call a ‘chicken skin’ experience. Experiences are more meaningful when they’re metaphors. You’re not just stepping into the ocean, you’re stepping into a new way of life where you remember your mortality and make the most of your days now, not someday.”

I added, “Here’s my card with my number. Text me and let me know how it goes, okay?”

The next day I received a three word text "I DID IT" accompanied by a photo of a smiling-from-ear-to-ear, dripping wet Beverly.

What dream have you been postponing?

Could you ask yourself, “What will matter a year from now?” and have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency so you’re motivated to act on it today?

Aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager said, “At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results."

If you results instead of regrets, stop putting your dreams on hold. Bet on them, act on them today .. instead of promising yourself you'll do them someday.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and author of SOMEDAY is NOT a Day in the Week, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work thats adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Intel, Capital One, NASA, Boeing, YPO, Cisco.

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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?

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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.

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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 Cheri@intrigueAgency.com to work with Sam or arrange for her to speak to your group.

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Don't Quit Your Day Dream

“Don’t quit your day dream.” – Alicia Keys While watching the finals of The Voice and American Idol, something stood out about all the contestants, even though they came from wildly diverse backgrounds.

None of them quit their day dream.

Well, some did, for a while. Some gave up their music, discouraged by the rejection and the frustration of feeling they had talent that deserved to be noticed and appreciated – and that wasn't. But they kept a spark of hope alive, and summoned up the courage to audition even when the odds were against them. Even when their chances of success were slim.

Instead of abandoning their dream, they bet on themselves and put their hope on the line.

How about you? What’s your day dream? Have you always wanted to travel? Write a book? Start your own business? Learn to play guitar? Get involved in community theater?

Have you set aside that dream? Did someone talk you out of it or did you give it up because you felt the odds of success were next to nothing?

Why not follow the example of these contestants who bet on themselves and put their dreams on the line? The only thing you have to lose is … regret.

I recently asked my network for help with the sub-title for my book SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week. The winning choice? Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life.

When I shared with my online community, Jillyn Hawkley Peterson got in touch to say:

“Know what my husband said to me 18 months ago after getting tired of hearing me talk about something I wanted to do for more than a decade?

‘Are you ever going to do it?! Because if you’re not, could you please stop talking about it?’

I am now 1726 miles into a 3800 mile bicycle trek across the country and should finish sometime in 2019.

Because the only thing that happens someday is I’ll die. And then I can’t get any of this stuff done. I would make the sub-title ‘Do It or Stop Talking About It.’ LOL.”

Kudos to Jillyn for making the rest of her life the best of her life, for proving we’re never too old for new dreams. (Check out her blog Jypsy Jill Rides to be inspired by her travels).

How about you dream? Are you living it or have you set it aside? What is that one thing you’ve been waiting to do you would regret not doing?

And if you’re thinking, “I'll do it later when I have more time," please rethink that. You’ll never have more time than you have right now.

And if you’re planning to do this when you retire, please rethink that too. One of the saddest discoveries of my Year by the Water was how many people waited to retire to embark on their dreamed-of adventure … and when the time came, they no longer had their health or the significant other they planned to share their adventure with.

Rene Ricard says, “Tomorrow is another day. But so was yesterday.”

Put a date on the calendar NOW when you will launch your day dream. Not tomorrow. Not someday. Today.

You will never regret betting on yourself and putting your day dream into motion; you’ll only regret not doing it … sooner.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, has helped thousands of clients create quality books, brands and presentations that scaled their impact – for good. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in New York Times and on NPR, and presented to YPO, Intel, NASA, Capital One, Nationwide. Want Sam to speak at your conference? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

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Change for Good - At Any Age

"Your life does not get better by chance; it gets better by change."-Jim Rohn I remember asking a forty-something at a New Year's party, "What's your New Year's resolution?" He just shook his head and said, "I didn't make one. I just break them anyway. What's the point?"

“Wow,” I thought. “That’s like giving up hope.” I believe in hope and I believe we can change for good - at any age. One of the great blessings of being human and being alive is we can choose to do things differently any time we want.

Our history doesn’t need to predict our future unless we let it. Just because we’ve broken resolutions in the past, doesn’t mean we can’t honor them this time.

The secret is to believe it is possible. As Brene Brown says, "I will choose how the story ends." We can also choose how the story STARTS.

What will you change today to give yourself a FRESH START on life?

Long-time friend and Hall of Fame speaker Glenna Salsbury wrote an inspiring book on this subject entitled, “The Art of the Fresh Start.” The premise of Glenna’s book is that "most resolutions - no matter how well-intended - are doomed to fail for one often overlooked reason: they are incongruent with our dreams and values."

I think there's another reason our attempts to change often fail. We focus on what we don't want instead of on what we do.

My clarity around this was triggered by two emails our office received last week. The first said, “Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions.”

The second said, in response to our request to change the day and time of an appointment, “I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Yikes. When we tell ourselves (and others) what NOT to do, we actually increase the likelihood the unwanted behavior will happen. For example, what do you think about when reading these phrases?

“I don’t like it when you interrupt me.” “You need to stop being late all the time.” "We can't afford to make mistakes in that meeting." "No need to get nervous before that presentation."

The words “don’t,” “stop” “won’t” and “not” are “ghost” words. Our mind doesn’t register them. When they’re paired with an unwanted behavior, “Don't worry,” or “I won't eat carbs" or "Stop hitting your sister” we pay attention to, produce, and perpetuate the very behavior we DON’T want.

That’s why, when that company rep said, “Don’t hesitate to call,” they introduced the word “hesitate” which means we’ll think twice before contacting them.

It’s better to say, “Please call if you have questions.” or "We look forward to hearing from you …”

For many people, the word problem means “something’s wrong.” Why give customers the impression something wrong if there isn’t? How about a more gracious, “That will work fine” or “Yes, he’s open at 4:30 and I’m happy to book that time.”

Words matter. It’s in our best interests to mindfully select words that focus on the DESIRED vs. the DREADED behavior because we get what we focus on.

This applies to what you want to change. Instead of using language that focuses on what you DON’T want; use words that state what you DO want. For example:

“I will stop sitting all day at work” becomes “I get up from my desk and take two ten minute walk breaks every day.”

"You need to stop interrupting people” becomes "Let people finish what they're saying."

“I don’t eat carbs” becomes “I love eating lean, green and protein.”

“I don't want to be nervous before that presentation" becomes "I welcome this speaking opportunity and will walk in with confidence."

Please note: switching the words we think/say transcends “semantics.” Choosing words that keep the desired behavior top of mind helps us - and others - change into being the quality of person we want to be.

To help achieve that, here are quotes on how we can change for good - starting now. You might want to print them out and post them where you see them everyday to keep them in-sight, in-mind so you keep them top-of-mind. Enjoy.

1. “Never say anything to yourself you don’t want to come true.” – Brian Tracy

2. "Life has no remote. You've got to get up and change it yourself." - Pinterest post

3. “If you’re brave enough to say good-bye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paulo Coelho”

4. “Look closely at the present you’re constructing. It should look like the future you’re dreaming.” – Alice Walker

5. “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” – Martin Luther

6. “There is only one day left, always starting over: it is given to us at dawn and taken away from us at dusk." - Jean-Paul Sartre

7. “Your future depends on many things, mostly on you.” – Frank Tyger

8. “You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.” – Mary Pickford

9. “Live out of your imagination, not your history.” – Stephen Covey

10. “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone." - Pablo Picasso

11. “The only thing keeping you from what you want is the story you’re telling yourself about it.” – Tony Robbins

12. "And suddenly you know it's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." - Meister Ekhart

13. “Do you know the #1 precursor to change? A sense of urgency." - John Kotter

14. “Change before you have to." - Jack Welch

15. “You can’t start the chapter of a new life if you keep re-reading the last one.” Pinterest post

16. “May your choices be based on your hopes and not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

17. “Don’t tell it like it is, tell it like you want it to be.” – Esther Hicks

18. “To make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.” Richard Feynman

19. “The only danger is not to evolve." - Jeff Bezos

20. “How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

And a final quote from the incomparable Anne Lamott. It’s a long one and a good one. Wishing you a juicy year – and a juicy life.

“What if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75, and you never got your novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing you forgot to have a big juicy creative life of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.” - Anne Lamott

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in NY Times and presented to Capital One, National Geographic, Boeing, Intel, NASA and Accenture. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.

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We're Never Too OLD for NEW Dreams

Many people I interviewed during my Year by the Water told me, rather wistfully, that they hoped, planned, dreamed of doing something similar … someday. When I asked why they weren’t doing it now, they gave a lot of reasons including that they felt they were "too old" and had "missed their chance."

Too old? Missed their chance?

I shared my belief that we’re never too old – or too young - to make our dreams come true. Several people were skeptical so I shared two of my favorite stories:

I was in Aptos, CA wrapping up my SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week manuscript to turn in to my publisher St. Martin’s Press.

After a couple of rainy days, the sun came out which meant it was time to get up, get outside, and get moving.

I was walking through Seacliff State Park when two women popped out of their RV and asked me to take a picture of them. “Sure,” I said with a smile, “if you tell me your story.”

Which is how I learned that Sheila had told her friend yesterday, “It’s time to take a break.” June resisted but Sheila persisted. She was even wearing a sweatshirt that said, “Nevertheless, she persisted.”

They hitched up their trailer, told their families they’d be back in a couple days, and drove from their home in central California, a couple hours away.

I asked, “What gave you such clarity about not waiting for someday to do what was calling you?”

Sheila said, “I’m an insurance agent. One of my older clients retired last year and bought the huge, fancy Winnebago of his dreams. He drove it to my office to show it to me and to add it to his account. I watched out the window as it took him about twenty minutes to park the darn thing and get out of it. He’s in his late sixties and doesn’t move very well anymore.

He came in, slammed the door, slumped down in a chair and said, ‘I waited too damn long, and now I’m too old to enjoy it.’” She shook her head and said, “‘I’ll never forget that.”

June chimed in, “We’ve taken our kids everywhere - Hawaii, Disneyland, the Grand Canyon. We want to make memories with our kids before they don’t want to spend time with us.”

I asked if I could share their story because they’re such inspiring examples of why NOT to wait until later to do what’s important to us. Later may be too late.

You may be thinking, “I agree with this in theory, but you don’t understand my circumstances.”

You’re right, I don’t. Here’s what I suggest though. Next time you see an arts and crafts show in your area, GO.

Why? They are full of “real-life” people who are walking-talking proof that we're never too old to make our dream come true. Here’s what I mean.

I was traveling through the South. I checked into my hotel on the Savannah Harbor, discovered the Springtime Craft Show was being held at the convention center next door, and went to check it out.

My first stop was at the booth of Toffee to Go. Lisa Schalk, former stay-at-home mom, told me that several years before, she had cooked up home-made white chocolate/macadamia nut toffee to give as Christmas presents to friends and family. They loved her innovative flavors and begged her to make more. She started going to weekend arts/crafts fairs where her toffee kept selling out. She told her husband Jim, a hospitality executive, “I think we’ve really got something here.”

He told me, “I thought people were just being ‘nice,’ until I went with her one weekend and witnessed for myself everyone’s enthusiastic response. People had driven from hours away to buy her toffee in person. We bet on ourselves. I quit my job and we went all in, full-time.”

Fast forward. They just bought a 16,000 foot warehouse, were featured in O’s Christmas issue, and have corporate clients around the country. “People tell us, ‘Oh, you’re so lucky Oprah’s Favorite Things found you.” She smiled, “Luck is a lot of 2 a.m. nights, but it’s worth it.”

I discovered the “Pretty Darn Good Salsa” couple in the next aisle. They created their own special blend with beans, corn, cilantro and secret ingredients for a Super Bowl party. Everyone loved it. They started making bigger batches. After retiring (he was a school teacher for decades), they now hit the road every weekend. He says, “It may be 8 degrees back home, but we know we’ll be in Florida that weekend, visiting our daughter, meeting all kinds of interesting people and hearing their stories, while paying for our retirement. It's the best of all worlds.”

Next I was drawn to a booth featuring wearable art. The proprietor Lynn Shore, told me, “My grandmother, who had the patience of Job, taught me to knit when I was eight. I started hand-crafting gifts for friends and realized, “This isn’t just a hobby; it’s a business.”

When I asked, “What do you like best about these festivals?” Lynn thought about it and then gave a profound answer, “I am inspired by the creativity of humanity. It is a blessing to be here.”

What is the moral of these stories? None of these business owners studied these careers at college. None of them could have predicted they would turn their passion into a profitable and meaningful profession. However, all of them are grateful to have “encore careers” where they’re doing work they love that puts the light on in their eyes and puts money in their bank account.

John Barrymore said, “A man does not become old until regrets take the place of dreams.”

Please don’t let take regrets take the place of your dreams. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.

Get clear on your dream. Ask yourself, “What could add meaning to my life? What am I good at, what do I love to do, that people would pay for? How could I turn my purpose and passion into a profitable profession? How could I craft - or cook up - an encore career where I have the best of all worlds?"

Then get creative and set it in motion today … not someday.

- - -

Sam Horn - CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker - is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her work has been featured in NY Times and taught to NASA, Intel, Boeing, Accenture. Want Sam to share her keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@intrigueAgency.com

Want more ways to turn your passion into your profession? Check out Sam's book IDEApreneur.

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Too Busy to be Happy?

Did you know a Harris Poll reports only 31% of Americans say they’re happy? An exhausted business owner told me yesterday, "I'm too busy to be happy."

I told him, "Please rethink that. Happiness doesn't take TIME, it takes ATTENTION."

How about you? Would you say you’re happy?

I've discovered something surprising - and saddening - in my interviews with hundreds of people in the last few years for my upcoming book SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week.

Many people feel they have too much going on to be happy. They have too many responsibilities, too many to-do's. They just don’t have the time.

That entrepreneur told me, “My wife and I work full-time in our business and we have two kids with special needs. We go non-stop seven days a week. Maybe someday I’ll be happy. I don’t see that in the near future.”

Ouch.

What I’ve learned is that whether or not you describe yourself as “happy” depends a lot on how you define it. (More on that here.)

It also depends on whether you feel you have time for it.

Please understand, happiness doesn’t have to be “happy, happy, joy, joy" like that Peanuts cartoon image of Snoopy leaping in the air, clicking his heels (paws?) and doing a happy dance. It can mean:

* feeling peaceful, content, satisfied.

* being present and quietly grateful to be alive.

* looking at the person you’re with – or the people you’re around – and being really glad to have them in your life.

* getting up from your chair, going outside for a moment and reveling in your health and freedom of movement.

* connecting with an idea, song or painting and marveling at humanity’s artistry.

In other words, happiness doesn’t take time, it takes attention.

When I asked that young dad whether he kept a gratitude journal (which a Harvard study shows is a shortcut to happiness), he said “You don’t get it. Our sons wake up several times a night. We never get more than five hours of sleep and we’re going from the moment we get up to the moment we go to bed. Who’s got time??”

I nodded, “I understand that adding anything to your maxed-out life isn’t an option. What if, instead of counting your blessings, you started noticing them? The first one takes time, the second one doesn’t.”

He told me, “It’s worth a try.”

Agreed. Happiness is worth a try.

Is your life maxed out? Are you going from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed? Do you tell yourself you’ll be happy someday when you’re not so busy?

Please understand, you don’t need more time to be happy.

You’ll never have more time than you have right now.

Stop wishing you had more time and start paying more attention.

The happiness you seek is available any time you want … for a moment’s notice.

You can be happier and more grateful right here, right now at a moment’s notice and in a moment’s notice.

All you need to do is to be more alert to, and appreciative of, what’s right with your world instead of what’s wrong.

You don’t even have to COUNT your blessings. All you have to do is NOTICE them.

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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, - is on a mission to help people create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books - Tongue Fu! POP! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - have been featured in NY Times, Forbes and on NPR and taught to Boeing, Intel, ASAE, Cisco, Accenture, NASA. Want Sam to speak to your group? Contact Cheri@intrigueAgency.com

Are You Taking Yourself Out of Your Own Story?

One reason I'm calling my new book SOMEDAY is not a Day in the Week is because it’s sad to see how many people are working themselves to death, thinking they'll relax and enjoy themselves when things aren't so crazy at work. I’m not making that up. A 2015 Atlantic article reports that job-related stress is the #5 killer in the U.S, causing more deaths than Alzheimer’s and diabetes.

People promise to take better care of themselves when they're not so busy. What if that day never comes?

While on my Year by the Water, I had a crucible moment that demonstrated (rather dramatically) the consequences of putting everyone else first. Hope this story motivates you to put yourself back in your own story and do something this week that brings you joy.

My plan for the day was to drive California’s Pacific Coast Highway from Monterey to Morro Bay. However, work responsibilities came up that morning, so it was late afternoon before I hit the road. I didn’t think much about it until the sun went down and it got dark. And when I say dark, I mean no moon. no light.

If you've taken this spectacular drive, you know about its many hairpin turns. In the day, you can see what’s ahead and adapt accordingly. But it was pitch black which meant I couldn’t see beyond my headlights. I completely lost my equilibrium because I had no idea what was coming up next.

What made it worse was the road often narrowed to one lane because of construction to fix damage caused by recent landslides. The only thing between me and a thousand foot drop down to the rocks below was a rather flimsy looking guardrail.

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

The only problem? The pull-out was gravel. And shorter than anticipated. I braked and started sliding. I finally came to a stop a couple feet from the cliff’s edge.

I sat there and shook. The truck was long gone. It was just me, the road, and my realization that my default of putting others first had just about cost me my life.

Does any of this sound familiar? That was a rather extreme example of "selflessness," but on some level, is your default to put others’ needs before your own? At what cost?

If you’re a business owner, executive, parent or team leader, this may have become your norm.

Somewhere along the way, was it modeled for you that the meaning of life is to be found in service? There are hundreds of quotes perpetuating this belief that serving others is the right thing, the noble thing, to do.

For example, Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Yet serving others at the cost of ourselves is an extreme … and any extreme is unhealthy.

Self-sacrifice comes at a price. We lose our equilibrium and end up compromising our health and happiness. What's worse is that when we habitually take ourselves out of our own story, we teach the people around us we don’t matter, that what we want and need doesn’t count.

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

A college counselor told me, “Sam, I don’t have kids, but I do have students. Many are away from home for the first time. They’re lonely, confused and overwhelmed. My heart goes out to them, so I’ve given some my home phone number so they can call if they’re having a tough time. Good idea in theory, not so good in practice. I spend many evenings on the phone mitigating one crisis afterhonoring another. My husband is starting to resent this and I can’t blame him. Plus, I’m getting burned out because I never get a chance to recharge.”

I told her, “Good for you for being there for your students. The question is, are you also being there for yourself? Think about the Law of Unintended Consequences. What we accept, we teach. What are you teaching by not honoring your health and by not having any boundaries around your time and access?”

“But I feel so sorry for these kids. They all have a story.”

“I understand. However, you’re thinking only of their story and not your own. Where are you in this story?”

“But I can’t just cut them off and turn my back on them.”

“I’m not suggesting you be selfish and think only of yourself. I'm suggesting you serve others and yourself. Create some boundaries with metrics. If your boundaries don’t have numbers in them, they’re not boundaries. Instead of being available to your students every single night, what is a fairer balance?”

Suffice it to say, we created a written policy around her “evening office hours” that she posted and handed to her students. They still have an option to contact her in case of an emergency, otherwise there's a step-by-step process for how they can schedue time with her on campus.

She contacted me later to say our conversation, and her new policy, taught her a valuable lesson. “I never realized how much I was devaluing myself by focusing exclusively on my students’ needs. I see now that my compassion for them was at the cost of compassion for myself. My husband thanks you, I thank you." She laughed, "Someday, my students may even thank you for having someone model for them that it’s not selfish to put ourselves in our own story, it’s smart.”

How about you? Are you running on empty? Burnout is a clear sign we’re not enforcing our boundaries. It’s a clear sign we are people-pleasing and putting everyone else first – and ourselves last.

The good news is, it’s not too late to change this default.

Next time you’re about to say yes when you want to say no – next time you’re about to give in and go along instead of speaking up for what’s important to you – next time you're about to compromise your health or safety with "No, you go ahead. You go first" .... STOP!

You matter. What you want and need counts. You can be responsible to others and to yourself. You can serve others and yourself.

Put yourself back in your own story. It’s not selfish. It’s smart.

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Are You Treating Your Health, Life and Loved Ones as an Afterthought?

“None of us are going to get out of here alive, so please stop thinking of yourself as an afterthought.” – Anthony Hopkins I just got off my monthly phone call with a long-time friend.

Everyone who has ever met her says, even if they only met her for a few minutes in the hallway, “She made me feel I was the most important person in the world. She listened to every word I said and then said just the right thing to lift me up and move me forward.”

What some people don’t know is she has been dealing with Stage 4 cancer the last two years. She has many 9-on-the-scale-of-10 pain days and never knows which day might be her last.

As a result, she lives every day like it might be her last. That’s not being trite, it’s being true.

I asked her, “What do you wish people knew that you now know?”

“I wish they would emotionally put themselves at the end of their life. It would help them be more mindful about how they spend their time.”

“What do you mean?”

“Mindful means asking ourselves, 'Does this really matter? What will matter in the long run?' When we know we have a limited amount of time, we’re really careful about who we spend it with, what we spend it on.”

Following my call with her, I asked myself, “What am I NOT doing that, at the end of my days, I will wish I had?”

The answer came immediately.

I would wish I had initiated more outings where our whole family got together. I’ve been fortunate this last year to spend time with Tom, Patty and their kids in Boulder and Maui for Christmas, and with Andrew, Miki and Hiro in NY and LA … but it’s been two years since we’ve all been together.

That’s too long. I am the matriarch of our family. It is up to ME to initiate gatherings.

So, I sent them an email asking, “Who wants to run the Bolder Boulder 10K together?”

The Bolder Boulder is the second largest 10K in the country. Anyone can do it. competitive runners, walkers, babies in strollers, even corporate teams in costumes.

This will give us all something to train for, something to look forward to. It will be a wonderful “excuse” to get outside, get fit, and have fun while creating a celebratory and memorable experience.

I can hardly put into words how right this feels.

How about you?

Are you spending your time carefully or carelessly?

What priorities - health, loved ones, your life - are you treating as an “afterthought?”

If you project yourself emotionally to the end of your life, what will you wish you had done?

Why not put a date on the calendar and initiate it now?

Henry Miller said, "Life, as it is called, is for many of us one long postponement."

Are you floating through life, promising yourself you'll do more of what's important ... when you have more time, money or freedom?

Often, the things we wish we had done don't cost a thing. They just involve spending quality time with loved ones, doing things we enjoy, and looking around and appreciating what's right with our world.

And we can all do that, right here, right now if we make it a priority.

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Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, TEDx speaker, and author of POP!, Tongue Fu!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? is on a mission to help people create a QUALITY life-work that adds value for all involved. This is excerpted from "SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week" (St. Martins Press, 2019)

What Will You Do to be Happy TODAY, Not SOMEDAY

I am hosting SOMEDAY Salons across the country to collect real-life stories and insights from people about why they're postponing what's meaningful to them, and to inspire them to start honoring their time, health, life and loved ones now, not later.

I will always be grateful to long-time friend and Oprah favorite Mary Loverde (author of The Invitation and I used to Have a Handle on Life But It Broke) who hosted the first SOMEDAY salon in her beautiful home in Denver.

What a joy it was seeing people dive deep into the Four Minute Happiness Box Quiz and discuss their discoveries about the many important things they're putting off ... for what they think are good reasons.

It's so rewarding to see people talk honestly about how they've fallen into a habit of delaying their true priorites, and to see the light go on in their eyes when they realize that procrastinating on what's important to them is a path to regrets; that the clock is ticking and if they truly appreciate their time, health, life and loved ones, they'll start honoring them TODAY, not in the far off future.

The most meaningful feedback from that first salon is that people are now over-riding their automatic postponement and acting with a Today, not Someday mentality.

They have been motivated to call long-time friends they've been promising to get together with. They've gone outside for a walk at sunset instead of turning on the TV. One picked up and played a guitar that's been sitting on a shelf for years.

Perhaps one of the most meaningful emails I've received is from a woman who has always wanted to meet her soul-mate, a man she admired and enjoyed who cherished her.

She FOUND HIM! He is everything she's always wanted and they're deeply in love. They had a few challenging years where he took care of his adult kids who needed him, and she took care of her parents who had health challenges at the end of their life.

But now, she and her soul-mate are FREE. He's retiring and she has her own business so she calls the shots on her schedule.

But her Puritan Work Ethic keeps kicking in. She grew up care-taking a sibling with special needs and has been a single mom/entrepreneur for the past twenty years, so her default is to put others first, to always be responsible to and for them.

The irony is, she has everything she wants right here, right now. But, despite her intellectual understanding of that, she keeps reverting to her decades-old, deep-seated belief that work comes first and she has to take care of other priorities before she can relax and do what she wants.

Somehow, having fun feels frivolous, indulgent, maybe even selfish. It flies in the face of what it means to be a responsible person who "does the right thing."

But what about having a responsibility to hereself?

What about realizing that her dream has come true and she's not honoring it?

She has a man she loves her, wants to take care of her, wants to travel and spend time together. Her kids are adults and can take care of themselves. Her parents have passed.

Isn't it time she put herself first?

Isn't is time she revels in what's right with her life, right here, right now?

Isn't it time to make her life with her partner her first priority?

How about you?

Have you been taking care of everyone else for so long you no longer even think about taking care of yourself?

Do you realize it's not selfish to do something you want to do ... it's overdue?

Do you realize that when you put yourself first, you free up everyone around you to do the same?

Do you realize that the clock is ticking and there is no automoatic tomorrow?

Do you realize that the best way to appreciate the precious gift of life is to enjoy it while you can instead of promising you'll do that ... someday?

What will you do today to honor your life?

What will you do today to honor your health and freedom of movement?

What will you do today to be happy today, not someday?

SOMEDAY Is Not a Day in the Week

I'm here speaking at an event in Hawaii, and a participant asked, "What prompted you to write a book on SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week?"

I told the group the backstory and why I am a woman on a mission on this topic, and thought you might enjoy reading it too.

In 2015, I had just finished an intense two day consult. It was satisfying but I was so exhausted, I didn't know how I was going to get on the plane home that night.

My son called while I was summoning up energy to drive to the airport. He sensed something in my voice and asked, "What's up, Mom?"

I told him how drained I was and he said, "Mom, there's something about you I don't understand. You've created a life where you can do anything you want, and you're not taking advantage of it."

Out of the mouths of twenty-somethings. He was right. I could take time off. My sons were grown and out of the house. I was single, healthy, and could do work on the road to finance my adventures. I was free to go.

But you know what? Instead of changing things up, I went right back to my old habits and started filling my calendar again.

It wasn't until several months later when I was driving along the Pacific Coast on my way to give a workshop, that I had a "divine intervention." And yes, I know that sounds woo-woo, but that's what happened.

All of a sudden my mind was filled with an idea that wanted to be born.

If there's anything I learned from 17 years of emceeing the Maui Writers Conference, it's how important it is to ink it when we think it. So, I pulled over and here’s what poured out.

(Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)

“Some people are drawn to fire. I am drawn to water. After all, we are 65 percent water. It is our essence, our lifeblood. All of us are bodies of water.

Yet, as Maslow pointed out, water is a fulfilled need. And fulfilled needs tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.

So it is that I will set out on my Year by the Water on October 1. (My whaat?!)

I will spend a week by a different body of water — oceans, estuaries, mountain streams. Each week will have a theme. Can we really not step in the same river twice? Does salt water — sea, tears and sweat — cure what ails us? Why can’t we collect all the shells on the beach?

So, Chesapeake Bay, Marina Del Rey… here I come. I will interview people along the way — surfers, swimmers, sailors. I will swim with dolphins, houseboat on Lake Tahoe, snuba in Maui, sail off the coast of California.

I am clear that I am supposed to set this in motion but I am not supposed to control it. I am supposed to do the opposite of my always and cooperate with what wants to happen.

And so it is.”

I sat there, stunned by the out-of-the-blue suddeness of it all.

However, I realized how fortunate I was to have a crystal clear “calling” downloaded to me (with a name and start date no less) so I answered that call.

In retrospect, I think another reason I was so ready and willing to make this major change was because of something that happened to my dad.

My dad's dream was to visit all the national parks when he retired. As head of vocational ag education for the state of California, he was on the road 4-5 days a week driving to high schools, county fairs and farms and ranches. He was an honorable man who worked hard for decades to make a positive difference in the lives of his FFA advisors and students.

A week after retiring, he took off on his long-delayed dream, and a week after that, he had a stroke in a hotel bathroom.

Dad recovered from that stroke but he never did get to fulfill his dream of visiting the Smoky Mountains, Zion, Glacier and the Grand Tetons.

I didn't want that to happen me. I don't want that to happen to anyone.

Fast-forward to 2017. I did set out on my Year by the Water and it was everything I hoped it would be - and more.

The irony is, it ended up not being about the water.

It ended up being about the people I met.

In particular, the people who, upon hearing about my Year by the Water, would say wistfully, "I'm going to do something like that ...someday."

When I asked why they were postponing their dreams, many said, "I'm busy, I've got bills to pay, people counting on me."

They seemed to think it was selfish, almost irresponsible, to do what made them happy.

The problem with that? It’s based on the assumption that we’ll be able to do what we want when we’re ready. But what if we don’t?

As the Buddha said, "The thing is, we think we have time."

The purpose of my book (published by St. Martin's Press, Jan. 2019) is to help you get crystal clear that life is much too precious to postpone.

You have a right and a responsibility to do more of what makes you happy.

Please note, I’m not suggesting you quit your job, walk away from your obligations or take a year off to follow your dreams.

Many of you aren't in a position to do that ... and/or you may not want to do that.

The good news is, there are small things you can do right here, right now, to be happier, healtheir, more joyful and fulfilled.

My hope is that by reading inspiring stories of people who decided to change their life for good; you’ll be motivated to do the same.

Most importantly, I hope you’ll be motivated to put yourself in your own story and honor your true priorities. It's not selfish, it's smart.

You’ll never regret taking the time to focus on what will matter in the long run; you’ll only regret not doing it … sooner.

Spring Free From the Comparison Trap

Do you compare yourself to others? As Dr. Phil asks, "How's that working for you?"

Comparison is a see-saw. It perpetuates a one up - one down dynamic. When we compare ourselves to others, we either feel inferior (people are better than us) or superior (we are better than other people). Neither feeling is healthy.

We don't want to feel better than other people; that's arrogance. And we don't want to feel other people are better than us; that's unworthiness.

The goal is to have a solid self esteem, a centered core of confidence we carry with us wherever we go ... that doesn't depend on where we are or who we're with.

How do we do that?

Instead of putting ourselves down ("You're such a loser," "What a klutz," That was stupid") or comparing ourselves to others - we admire, aspire or appreciate.

Here's an example.

A woman from my “Got Confidence?” workshop told me, “As a result of your program, I rejoined my gym. I used to go three times a week, but had gotten out of the habit. Believe me, my body had paid for being a couch potato. I walked into the aerobics class, took one look at all those hard bodies leaping around in their leotards and was tempted to head home and inhale a pint of Haagan Das.

Then I remembered you saying, ‘If you don’t quit comparing, comparing will cause you to quit.’ You were right. I was about quit something I wanted to do because I was comparing. Instead I admired, ‘Good for them for being in such good shape' and then aspired, ‘How can I get back in shape?’ Not by going home and dating a pint of ice cream. I'm back to working out three times a week.

Every once in a while, I’ll glance at the people around me and start to feel intimidated. Now though, I know If I keep focusing on how they're doing better than me, I'll get demoralized or depressed. Instead, I switch my attention back to my goal, which is to be fit and healthy and to give myself props for effort. That motivates me to feel good about myself and to continue instead of quit.”

How about you? Do you compare yourself to others? Does any good come out of it?

It's natural to want what others have or to feel bad when they've got something we don't. We look at their glowing Facebook update, fun vacation photos or latest promotion and feel jealous. The problem is, jealousy don't help, it hurts. It causes us to lose sight of our own value, to question our own self worth.

Get crystal clear about this, "Comparison is the root of all unhappiness and the ruin of self-esteem."

From now on, follow my friend Maggie Bedrosian's advice to switch envy to appreciation. Maggie told me, "During lunch at our annual convention, everyone went around the table introducing themselves. It turned into a brag-fest. This person had just been on Oprah, this one just had a speaking tour in Europe, this one just got a six figure book deal.

I found myself shrinking in my chair, feeling smaller and smaller as everyone shared their latest triumph. I had been happy with my career until I heard what everyone else was doing. I snuck back to my room after lunch. I was so discouraged. I felt like I didn’t belong. I was going to skip the afternoon sessions when my eyes fell on the photo of my husband and son I take with me when I travel. Just seeing their faces reminded me how much I love them and how happy I truly am.

I impulsively slipped their photo in the back of my plastic name badge. The rest of that convention, anytime someone waxed eloquent about where they'd just been or what they'd just done, I would peek at that photo and it would instantly re-center me in how 'm already wealthy in what really matters.”

How about you? Do you ever feel small when people trot out their latest achievements? Do you feel envious while scrolling through other people's social media posts?

How will you re-center yourself in the midst of all that? How will you remind yourself of who and what really matters to you? What will you do to turn envy into appreciation?

Remember, if you feel your life is like a see-saw, you might be depending on other people for your ups and downs. Jump off the jealousy see-saw. Spring free from the comparison trap.

Theodore Roosevelt said it 100 years ago and it's as true today as when he first said it, "Comparison is the thief of joy."

If you're feeling discouraged, stop looking OUT at OTHER people's lives and sart looking IN at YOURS. Turn envy into appreciation by focusing on what you've GOT instead of what you've NOT. Stop doubting and dissing yourself and be grateful for what's right with your world.

As Brian Tracy says, "Never say anything to yourself you do not want to come true."

If you do, it will result in a centered core of confidence you carry with you everywhere you go. And isn't that what we all want?

You've Got to Have a Dream for a Dream To Come True

As I interview people for my upcoming book, I’m saddened to hear how many are so overwhelmed by their many obligations, they have given up dreaming. This story of a young dad has stayed with me. He said, “I commute two hours a day and work in a job I hate to pay bills. We've got three kids under the age of five so my wife and go from the moment we wake up to the mment we go to sleep. I don’t dream anymore; it’s too painful. I just keep my head down and do the best I can to get through the day.

I told him, “That’s why you need a dream. Otherwise, years will fly by and before you know it, you’ll be looking back wondering, “What happened?!”

He pushed back, “You don’t get it. I’m exhausted. I don’t have the time or energy to dream.”

I told him, “I do get it. It’s just that, instead of seeing exhaustion as a reason for NOT dreaming; it’s even MORE reason to dream. That’s not my opinion, that’s based on research done by “The Grand-Daddy of Goal-setting.” Dr. Edwin Locke reports that ‘specific, challenging goals lead to higher performance than no goals because they direct attention and mobilize effort.”

In other words, if you want to be happier, you need to direct attention and mobilize effort towards a meaningful life goal (that’s all a dream is) so you have something to look forward to, something that gives your life meaning and momentum.

He said, “Okay, I get that. It’s just been so long since I’ve allowed myself to have a dream, I no longer have one.”

I told him, “The good news is, there’s a four-minute exercise that can help you identify a personally meaningful dream that can help you be happier. The dream doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to take time, money and energy you don’t have. It can be something small YOU want to do that could make life a bit better.

Please note: if you’re busy, tired, and tempted to skip this exercise, please rethink that.

A career coach told me, “Sam, you know what surprises me, even after all these years? Many people spend more time deciding what movie to watch than what to do with the rest of their life.”

The average movie is 120 minutes.This quiz takes 4 minutes. Surely identifying a dream that could lead to a happier life is as important as watching a movie. Think of it this way, this exercise is a four-minute mental movie of a life of your dreams.

Sam Horn's Four Minute - Four Box Happiness Quiz

“Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” – Gloria Steinem

Have you ever played a word-association game in which someone asks a question and you’re supposed to say the first thing that comes to mind? For example, I say, “Soup,’ you say “Sandwich.” I say “Horse,” you say “Carriage.” I say, “Hat,” you say “Trick.”

That’s what you want to do in this quiz. Please don’t second-guess your answers. Your first response is usually the most honest response, and that's the goal.

1. Please label the boxes in the square below: Box 1 is upper left. Box 2 is upper right. Box 3 is lower left. Box 4 is lower right. Put the word DOING on top of Box 1. Put the words NOT DOING on top of Box 2. Put the words WANT TO to the left of Box 1. Put the words DON’T WANT TO to the left of Box 3.

2. Write in Square 1 your first responses to this question: “What are you DOING in your life you WANT TO?” Doing work you love? Renovating your house? Walking your dog? Dating someone you like? Getting out in nature on weekends?

3. Write in Square 2 your fist responses to this question: “What are you NOT DOING in your life you WANT TO?” Not spending time with your family? Not exercising? Not writing? Not going back to college to get a degree? Not traveling?

4. Write in Square 3 your first responses to this question: “What are you DOING in your life you DON’T WANT TO?” Commuting two hours a day? Over-eating? Fighting with a spouse? On a time-wasting committee? Watching too much TV or spending too much time on social media?

5. Write in Square 4 your first response to this question: “What are you NOT DOING in your life and you DON’T WANT TO?” Yes, this is a double negative. It’s an important question though because it identifies toxic/unhealthy behaviors you're avoiding. Maybe you used to smoke and don’t anymore, and you never want to pick up another cigarette. Maybe you don’t want to work sixty hours a week and you’re not.

What Do Your Answers in The 4 Minute - 4 Box Happiness Quia Mean?

“They say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol

Take a few minutes to go back and fill in anything else that occurs to you. Gut responses are often the most enlightening, however others can offer additional insight.

When you’re finished, look at the responses in Box 1 and 4. That’s what’s “right” with your life, what’s contributing to your happiness.

The answers in Box 2 and 3 are what’s “wrong” with your life, what’s compromising your happiness. These are priorities you’ve been neglecting, putting off, promising you'll do someday when you have more time, money, freedom … fill in the blank.

Please note: we’ll always be things “wrong” with our life. None of us are perfect. 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 the things you want to do?

You might be thinking, “But Sam, it's complicated. I’m locked into a golden handcuffs situation. I don’t have the luxury to act on what's in box 2 and 3.”

Au contraire. If you identify one thing in your life you really care about and carve out time for that, it can compensate for the 90% that is a compromise or out of your control. As Thomas Edison said, “There's always a better way to do something, find it.”

That young dad? One of the things he wasn't doing was watching football with friends. This was a fairly simple fix. Instead of waiting until he had more time, (not going to happen, do you know anyone who has more time than they used to? The truth is, we’ll never have more time than we have right now); he and his wife set up “friend dates.”

The first and third Monday of every month (in season) he heads to a friend's house for Monday Night Football. The second and fourth Monday of every month (in season) his wife heads to her friends’ house for a night of cards.

This change did not require a major life overhaul. It cost nothing and takes 6 hours a month. But it’s two nights a month they both get to do something that makes them happy. It shows how acting on one thing from Box 2 can have a ripple effect that prevents regrets and positively impacts other areas of your life.

Please note: it is NOT SELFISH to take six hours a month to do something that makes you happy; it's SMART. In the midst of taking care of others, you have the right - and a responsibility - to take care of yourself. What you want matters, and it's up to you to keep it in your life instead of abandoning what makes you happy.

How about you? What did you put in Box 2 and 3? How will you act on one of those priorities today so you have a dream come true now, not someday?

The Woods Would Be Very Silent If No Birds Sang Except Those Who Sang Best

"The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best." - Henry Van Dyke Have you been thinking about creating something - a song, poem, book, blog or screenplay - but worry it won't be perfect?

I talked with a woman who’s been working on her book for five years. When I asked why she hadn’t pulled the trigger on it yet, she gave a lot of reasons (she hadn't had time because she’d been busy at work, she needed to take care of her mom who had gotten sick, she’d broken up with her boyfriend, etc.)

But what it really came down to was … doubts.

Doubts the book would succeed. Doubts that all the work would be worth it. Doubts about what other people would say or think.

I told her, “Perfectionism and procrastinating kill creativity. Put a date on the calendar. Until you do, your project will never get done. You’ll just keep coming up with reasons to put it aside.”

She said, “But how will I know when it’s ready?”

“You won’t. You just need to make a decision you’re going to get it out the door. You just need to get crystal clear that you’ll always regret it if you don’t finish it.”

I added, "My favorite line from Tina Fey’s book Bossypants was when she rushing to finish a skit in her first year at SNL and Lorne Michaels told her to wrap it up.

She protested, 'But it’s not ready.'

Lorne laughed and said, 'Tina, the show doesn’t go on because it’s ready. It goes on because it’s 11:30.'”

It's time for you to pick an 11:30 for your project.

Because if you don’t, chances are your project will never get out the door.

Our bestselling authors at the Maui Writers Conference - from Frank McCourt to Carrie Fisher to Mitch Albom - didn’t agree on much, but they did agree that they'd still be working on their books if it weren’t for their publisher's deadline.

We can always tweak things. We can always make our project better.

But creative work is better DONE than PERFECT. Because if you wait for it to be perfect, it will never get done.

I’ve collected some of my favorite quotes about perfectionism, procrastination and creative work.

You might want to review these, pick a favorite and post it where you can see it every day to remind yourself that, as Henry van Dyke said, “The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those who sang best.”

Your creative project - whether it's a book, screenplay, poem, story or song - may not be the best; but it may be just what someone needs to see, hear, be reminded of THAT DAY.

1. "Procrastination is often misspelled as perfectionism." - Pinterest post

2. "Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better." - Maya Angelou

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

4. "When perfectionism is driving ... shame is always running shotgun." - Brene Brown

5. "The bad news is, time flies. The good news is, you're the pilot." - Michael Altshuler

6. "Fear is boring." - Olympia Dukakis

7. "I didn't come this far to only come this far." - poster in library

8. "May your choices be based on your hopes and not your fears." - Nelson Mandela

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

10. "One person can make a difference and everyone should try." - John F. Kennedy

11. "You don't have to be brave to be courageous." - Sam Horn (more about that here)

12. "The only thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve is fear of failure." - Paulo Coelho

13. "Your life expands or contracts in proportion to your courage." - Anais Nin

14. "In any given moment, we have a choice is to step forward into growth or step back into safety." - Abraham Maslow

15. "I think writers are too worried it's all been said before. Sure it has, but not by you." - Asha Dornfest

16. "Thinking 'Here goes nothing' could be the start of everything." - Drew Wagner

17. "What makes you different or weird - that's your strength." - Meryl Streep

18. "What you think, you become. What you feel, you attract. What you imagine, you create." - Buddha

19. "I don't think my story is over yet." - Serena Williams

20. "Working hard for something you don't care about is called stress. Working hard for something you love is called passion." - Simon Sinek

21. "You become what you believe." - Oprah Winfrey

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

23. "Here's a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, it isn't." - Lauren Bacall

24. "Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother." - Kahlil Gibran

25. "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up." - Anne Lamott

26. Art enables us to to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time." - Thomas Merton

Yes, getting your creative work out in the world can be scary. You know what's scarier? Regret.

It's time to pick a "11:30" to finish your work and get it out in the world - no matter what

The world needs more people willing to contribute their creativity.

We need to hear your song. Express yourself. Add to the symphony of life.

Change Can Be Scary. You Know What's Scarier? REGRET

I'm working on my next book SOMEDAY is Not a Day of the Week and writing the chapter about WHY people stay in unhappy jobs and relationships. This is the lead quote. "CHANGE can be scary. You know what's scarier? REGRET."

What do you think?

While on my Year by the Water, I interviewed people across the United States and asked "Are you happy at work? If so, why? If not, why not? And if why not, why do you stay?"

Here are just a few of their answers. • I can’t afford to leave. (I need the paycheck. I’ve got bills, a mortgage, college.) • I’ve got people counting on me. (Kids at home. Parents with health challenges.) • I’ve worked too hard and too long to leave now. (I'm vested, I've got tenure, seniority) • Work sucks. That’s just the way it is. (“You work hard and then you die” philosophy.) • There aren’t other options. (I don’t have the right education, contacts, connections.) • This is as good as it’s going to get. (I live in a small town. I’m too young, too old.) • Change is scary. I rather stick with the status quo (the devil I know) than take a risk. • I keep hoping things will get better and I’ll get the recognition/respect I deserve. • I’d feel like a failure if I quit. I don’t want to disappoint people or let them down. • It’s selfish, irresponsible, to follow my bliss or do what I really want to do. • I plan to do what makes me happy someday when I retire, have more time, money, etc.

In my book I go into detail about why it's so important to create more meaning on and off the job now, not someday.

I'd love to hear from you.

If you know someone who feels "stuck" in their current situation, I welcome hearing about the reasons and responsibilities that are keeping them there and what they'd like to do instead.

Or, if you've successfully changed your life - for good - I'd love to hear how so others can learn from your example. What finally motivated you to change. What challenges did you face? How did you persevere through them.

With your permission, I might include your story in the book so other people can be inspired by your example. Thank you in advance for contributing your insights on this important topic.

Stop Procrastinating: 30 Quotes to Inspire You To Take Action Now ... Not Someday

"My parents always told me I wouldn't amount to anything because I procrastinated so much. I told them, 'Just you wait.'" - Judy Tenuta Are you procrastinating on something that's important to you?

Why? Many of us wait for perfect circumstances to take action on our projets, dreams and goals. We tell ourselves we'll do it when we have more time, money, confidence, energy, freedom - fill in the blank.

The problem with that?

We'll never have more time than we have right now. As my mom used tell me, "A year from now, you'll wish you had started today."

What is a project you've set aside that you really want to finish? What is something important to you that you've been putting off?

Review these quotes. Select a favrorite and post it where you'll see it every day to inspire you to take action on something that matters to you so you're leading a life that leads to results, not regrets.

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

2. "If you don't go; you'll never know." - Robert DeNiro

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

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

5. "At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results." - Chuck Yeager

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. "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

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

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

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

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

19. "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

20. "Some people get stuck because they keep telling themselves stories about how stuck they are." - Pinterest post (unattributed)

21. "If you don't have a dream; how ya gonna make a dream come true?" South Pacific

22. "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." - W. H.Murray

23. "Life expands or contracts in proportion to your courage." - Anais Nin

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

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

26. "It gets late early out there." - Yogi Berra

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

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

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

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

Okay, I'm a roll and can't stop. Here are a few more favorites. Hope they help you realize that "Someday is not a day in the week" (the title of my upcoming book) and you choose to set something in motion today that contributes to the quality of life you want, need and deserve.

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

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

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

34. "Life, for many of us, is one long postponement." - Henry Miller

35. One of my favorites: "Tomorrow is another day, but so was yesterday." - Rene Ricard

What are you waiting to do?

Begin it today. You will NEVER regret starting a project that calls you, finishing something you can be proud of, or spending time on what puts the light on in your eyes. You'll only regret not doing it sooner.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, has helped thousands of clients create quality books, brands and presentations that scaled their impact – for good. Her TEDx talk and books Tongue Fu!, POP!, and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? have been featured in New York Times and on NPR, and presented to YPO, Intel, NASA, Capital One, Nationwide. Want Sam to share her inspiring insights with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

Dreaming Costs Nothing. Not Dreaming Costs Everything.

Do you have a dream? Can you state it in on sentence? Is it posted somewhere you can see it every day so it stays in-sight, in-mind? A young father with two children told me he doesn’t dream anymore because it’s “too painful.” He said he has so many responsibilities, he’s just putting one foot in front of the other and trying to get through the day.

Ouch. I told him, “Dreaming costs nothing. Not dreaming costs everything.”

I told him I too was once “too busy” to dream.

Then, while driving along the Pacific Coast Highway near Santa Barbara on my way to give a workshop … an idea wanted to be born.

A what?!

Well, if there’s anything I learned from emceeing the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years, it’s INK IT WHEN YOU THINK IT. They don’t call them fleeting thoughts for nothing. If an idea want to be born, we need to jot that thought while it’s hot.

So, I pulled over, and here’s what poured out. (Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)

“Some people are drawn to fire. I am drawn to water. After all, we are 65 percent water. It is our essence, our lifeblood. All of us are bodies of water.

Yet, as Maslow pointed out, water is a fulfilled need. And fulfilled needs tend to get overlooked and taken for granted.

Water wants a voice. Water needs a voice. I will be that voice.

So it is I will set out on my Year by the Water on October 1.

I will spend every week by a different body of water. Each week will have a theme. Can we really not step in the same river twice? Does salt water — the sea, sweat and tears — really cure what ails us? Why can’t we collect all the shells on the beach?

I will pull a ‘Charles Kuralt’ and interview people along the way — surfers, swimmers, sailors.

I am clear I am not supposed to control this, I am supposed to set this in motion and cooperate with what comes. Instead of planning it, I'm supposed to do the opposite of my always and partner with what wants to happen.

And so it is.”

Well! I realized how fortunate I was to have a “calling” downloaded to me – with a name and start date no less – so I answered the call.

In retrospect, I think I was so ready and willing to act on this dream because of something my son said a few months before when he had had called to check in.

Andrew sensed something in my voice and asked, “Whazzup?”

I told him, “I have to take the red-eye to DC and then fly back to San Francisco on Friday to keynote a convention. I'm so exhausted, I don’t know how I’m going to do it.”

He said, “Mom, there’s something about you I don’t understand. You’re your own boss. You have your own business. You can do what you want, but you’re not taking advantage of it. Why don’t I book you a hotel? You can stay there the next few days and then just fly up to SF on Friday.”

Out of the mouths of twenty-somethings. Andrew was right. There was no one forcing me to get on that red-eye. Why wasn’t I being more creative with my life?

An hour later, I went to sleep in the Laguna Beach Hotel with the sounds of the waves outside my window.

The next day, I played hooky. I threw on my backpack and went exploring. I was drawn, as if by a magnet, to Laguna Beach bookstore and its books for writers by writers.

As I immersed myself in the inspiring words of Julia Cameron, Anne Lamott and Stephen King, a voice welled up in me and whispered, “I am a writer. That’s what I am.”

But I was caught up in the consultant-creative conundrum. I had filled my days facilitating other people’s work instead of focusing on my own.

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.”

What had I always wanted to do? Write. Be around water. Explore the world.

And the good news was, I could do all that WHILE earning a good living … if I just got creative about it.

This wasn’t an either-or situation. I could have the best of both worlds if I blended my passion and profession instead of seeing them as separate. The Year by the Water was a way to do that.

What’s the point?

Dreams don’t have to be in the far-off future. They don’t have to be something we do when we’re not so busy, when our responsibilities are done.

Dreams can fulfilled right, here, right now … if we get creative and combine our calling with our career.

How about you?

What is something you've always wanted to do - that you've been waiting to do?

What is a dream you could launch that would result in a satisfying “I DID IT!” that would contribute to your quality of life now, not someday?

Where haven’t you been – what haven’t you seen – that would be meaningful, rewarding?

How can you get creative and combine what's calling you with your career?

Put a date on the calendar for doing it NOW.

You will never regret doing more of what puts the light on in your eyes – you will only regret not doing it sooner.

Want more inspiration? Check out this related post - You're Never Too OLD for NEW Dreams.