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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's how the Happines Box works.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Horn’s Happiness Box

Happiness Quiz.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The question is, “HOW LONG?” 

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

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

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

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

Square 2 and 3 are where SOMEDAYS lurk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIFE HACK 1: EVALUATE Your Happiness History

Chapter 1. Play Hooky for a Day

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

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

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

Chapter 2. Remember the Golden Days

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

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

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

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

Chapter 3. Adopt a Sense of Urgency

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

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

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

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

LIFE HACK 2: GENERATE a Today Not Someday Dream

Chapter 4: Clarify What You Want

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

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

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

Chapter 5: Put a Date on the Calendar

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

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

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

LIFE HACK 3: ABDICATE Harmful Beliefs and Behaviors

Chapter 6. Just Say No to Nay-Sayers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 8. Stop Driving into Hurricanes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 10. Honor the Nudges, Connect the Dots

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

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

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

Chapter 11. Put Yourself in the Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 13. Live in Day-Right Compartments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 15. Get a Move On

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

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

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

Chapter 16. Free Up Time for Fun

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

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

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

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

Chapter 17. Be Wealthy in What Matters

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

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

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

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

Chapter 18. Launch Your Ship in Public

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

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

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

Chapter 19: Create a Community of One

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

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

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

LIFE HACK 7: INTEGRATE Your Passion and Profession 

Chapter 20. Blend Your Work and Recreation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Chapter 24. Quit Watering Dead Plants

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

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

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

Chapter 25. Do the Opposite of Your Always

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

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

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

LIFE HACK 10: RELOCATE to Greener Pastures

Chapter 26. Give Yourself a GFS - Geographic Fresh Start

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

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

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

Chapter 27. Come Full Circle

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

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

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

Chapter 27. Welcome What’s NEXT

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please understand, books in your head help no one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Writing is a way to live life twice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make this the year you finish your book. .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact Cheri@INTRIGUEagency.com for details and to reserve your spot.

- - -

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

adobe-spark-post - 2019-07-07T123858.460.png

Are You Keeping the Creative’s Contract?

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

Saul Bellow is right.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jot thoughts when they’re hot.

Ink it when you think it.

Muse it so you don’t lose it.

Make your life your lab.

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

- - -

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

Where and What is Your "Utah?"

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

What do I mean by that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is It SELFISH To Do What Makes You HAPPY?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No thanks, hon, I’ve got it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


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.


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.”


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.


- - -

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

What Does Happiness Mean to You?

When I ask, “What does happiness means to you?” I often get long pauses or blank looks. If we can’t define happiness, how are we supposed to know it when we experience it?

I attended a convention that featured a session on “The History of Happiness” presented by a professor who had written a book on the topic. He spent most of his sixty minutes quoting ancient philosophers like Aristotle and Plato. He left time for one question.

The gentleman next to me raised his hand and said, “What’s your definition of happiness?”

Dear in headlights. The professor stumbled and mumbled and finally confessed he didn’t have one. There was an almost audible gasp from the audience at this surprising revelation.

The gentleman next to me wasn’t about to let him off the hook. He said, “You’ve studied this topic for twenty years. Surely you have your own definition.”

The professor realized he wasn’t going to dodge the question and admitted, “Well, if I have to give a definition, I guess I’d agree with Stendahl, “To describe happiness is to diminish it.’

That was it. End of session.

Wow. I turned to the man next to me and said, “I so disagree with that. I think defining and describing happiness helps us be more alert to it and appreciative of it.”

He nodded in agreement. I asked, “When was the last time you were happy?”

He thought about it for a moment and then smiled. “My daughter called last week from her hospital to ask for my advice. She is a physician who has gone into my specialty of internal medicine. She had a patient on his death bed and they hadn’t been able to diagnose what was wrong. I asked her to list all his symptoms. I got a hunch based on what she told me and asked if they’d tested for a rather rare disorder. They hadn’t. She called back to say the hunch was right. They’d started treatment and it looked like they’d caught it in time and he’d recover.”

I told him, “That’s happiness. To have an adult child who respects you enough to go into your profession, who seeks your advice, which saves a life, and for you two to get to share that?”

“You’re right. It was satisfying on many levels.”

I persisted, “So, how would you define happiness?”

“I guess I’d define it as being able to share meaningful activities with the people I love.”

“Anything else?”

“Hmmm. Yes, being healthy, and helping others to be healthy, goes into the mix.”

“Put that together - being healthy, helping others be healthy, being loved and sharing meaningful activities with the people we love – that’s a pretty good definition of happiness right there.”

How about you? When was the last time you were happy? What did it look like and feel like to be happy? The clearer you are about defining and describing what happiness means to you – the more alert to it and appreciative of it, you’ll be.

I’m collecting definitions of happiness for SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week and hope to include yours. Being happy means different things to different people, and my goal is to share different perspectives to facilitate a comprehensive , well-rounded discussion of this topic.

Will you please take a moment to share your (under 50 word) definition of happiness here?

Here are inspiring quotes to kick-start your thinking. You may see an ingredient that deeply resonates with you and you can include it in your description.

Once you’ve crafted that definition, post it where you’ll see it every day. Keeping it in sight, in mind will keep it top-of-mind which will help you be more aware of when you’re happy. Being conscious of our happiness is the key to experiencing it more deeply and appreciatively. Here are those quotes. Read ‘em and reap.

1. “There is only one happiness in this life: to love and be loved.” – George Sand

2. “A happy person experiences frequent positive emotions (e.g., joy, compassion) and infrequent - thought not absent - negative emotions (e.g., sadness, anger, anxiety).” – Sonya Lyubomirsky

3. "My happiness depends on me, so you're off the hook." Esther Hicks

4. “Happiness is not ready made. It comes from your own actions.” – Dalai Lama

5. "A smile is happiness found right under your nose.” – Ziggy (David Wilson)

6. “The secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in the little details of daily life.” Wm Morris

7. “Folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” – Abraham Lincoln

8. “Someone once asked me what I regarded as the three most important requirements for happiness. My answer was: A feeling you have been honest with yourself and those around you, a feeling you have done the best you could in your personal life and in your work, and the ability to love others.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

9. “Happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.” – Webster’s Dictionary

10. “I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – it’s right in front of me if I pay attention and practice gratitude.” – Brene Brown

My definition of happiness? “Making a positive difference for as many people as possible, while enjoying healthy, creative, connected relationships with family, friends and Nature.”

By the way, I agree with all the above definitions, in particular that we must make up our mind to be happy - and that paying attention to and being grateful for what’s right in our world - is the key to doing that.

I look forward to seeing your definition. And thanks for sharing this with others, so we can collect definitions from around the world and create a global resource of what it means to be happy.

What Do YOU Really Want?

Have you been responsible for so long, you habitually give up what you really want?

I was on a budget while traveling on my Year by the Water, so often elected to stay in back-of-the-property rooms instead of in the higher-priced waterfront rooms.

I was in Los Angeles to work with a client and opted to stay in Marina del Ray, about fifteen minutes from LAX. The hotel staff was so enamored with my adventure, they upgraded me to a suite on the harbor.

As the bellman ushered me into my room, I was met with a stunning sunset framed by palm trees and colorful bougainvillea on my balcony. I opened the sliding glass doors, walked out, threw my head back, received and reveled in the evening air and magnificent 180 degree view with pelicans doing majestic fly-byes.

A long-time friend, Glenna Salsbury. called in the midst of my reverie and revelry. She could tell from my voice how happy I was.

She asked, “What’s going on?” I explained how wonderful it was experiencing this room overlooking the marina.

She was puzzled, “You’re on your Year by the Water. Don’t you normally stay at places on the water?”

I explained about my budget. She paused and then said, “Wouldn’t you rather spend six months overlooking the water than twelve months overlooking the parking lot?”

Yes I would. Yes I would.

How about you? Do you habitually give up what makes you happy?

Have you been emotionally and financially frugal for so long, you no longer even ask for what would put the light on in your eyes?

Are you settling for parking lots when OCEANS are what you 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 giving up what we want, it has become our default.

Many of the people I interview for my SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week book tell me it's been so long since they've had the freedom or autonomy to do what they really want, they no longer know what that is.

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

What would you do if you could play hooky for a day - if there were no repercussions and all your responsibilities were taken care of?

What do YOU really want? How can you start bringing more of that into your life?

Granted, as leaders, parents and partners, there are times we need to put what others want first; however there are also times when it’s appropriate to make an exception to our rule – or to revisit and update our rule.

Doing what we really want is a gift that keeps on giving.

I can hardly describe how happy it made me to wake up to water, to have breakfast next to water, to swim in water, to go for an energizing walk along water. It made my soul sing. It set up a happiness ripple effect that positively affected me, and everyone around me, for days.

I could have been in a dingy, dark room overlooking the six-lane highway or parking lot. I could have been in one of those sterile, hermetically-sealed high-rise hotels by the airport that sucks the soul right out of you.

Instead there I was, fully alive, surrounded by people kayaking, paddle-boarding, walking in the fresh air, smiling and enjoying every minute of being outside in nature. (Check out this 57 second video.)

Investing in what makes us happy isn’t indulgent, it’s inspiring.

Life isn’t supposed to be a drudge. We are meant to be happy.

I am not suggesting we can or should do what we want ALL the time. We continue to take care of people. We continue to be financially responsible.

Yet we also take care of ourselves. And that means doing what makes us happy every once in a while – without apology or guilt.

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

- - -

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 have been featured in NY Times and on NPR, presented to NASA, YPO, National Geographic and Capital One. This is excerpted from her upcoming book SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week (St. Martins Press, Jan. 2019) Want Sam to speak to your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com.

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.

- - -

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?

What Miracles Await - An Hour Off Our Planned Path?

I am driving from Colorado to Califonia. My waitress at breakfast yesterday asked, "Are you going to Zion National Park?"

When I asked why, she said, "You know it's only an hour away?" I hadn't known.

Thankfully, I had left room for whims and was able to spontaneoulsy take this side trip which has made the whole trip more rewarding than I could have imagined.

By the way, that is literally true. When we partner with life rather than plan every minute of it, what unfolds is better than we can imagine. It opens the door for SerenDestiny (a life where the light is on in our eyes) and we are gifted with unexpected delights that enrich us.

I lucked out as it was a perfect winter day. Sunny and with no ice or crowds on the trails. Let's hear it for off-season.

Hiked up to Emerald Pools and marveled at this natural waterfall in the midst of the Utah desert.

Felt so blessed to be able to immerse myself in this sacred place in such ideal conditions, I decided I couldn't "rush off." So, I stayed the night at this lodge that looked out at, and was surrounded by, these awe-inspiring mountains so I could more deeply imprint and enjoy this sensory-rich experience.

Still can't quite believe this magnificent place was on my way - but not on my radar.

An extraordinary experience and totally unexpected.

How about you?

Are you leaving room for whims - space for SerenDestiny?

Do you listen to intuitive nudges and act on intriguing opportunities that pop up along the way?

Do you cooperate with what wants to happen vs. trying to control every minute of it?

After all, who knows what miracles await - an hour off the planned path?

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.

Could THIS Be the Best Resolution ... Ever?

Do you have a favorite author who, as soon as you see their name on a blog or book, you know you want to read it? I do. Pulitzer Prize winning-columnist #ConnieSchultz is one of those authors for me. Every single time I read her work, I am uplifted.

This column "Treading Gently Into This New Year" shows why.

In less than 730 words, she writes about what really matters.

As Connie points out, many of us make new year's resolutions to correct our “flaws.” We vow to change this, stop this, go here, do that.

Yet, what really matters is simpler than all that.

Connie put the following message on a handmade coaster in her house so she’ll see it throughout the day and keep it top-of-mind:

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”

Doesn’t that resonate deep within you? Could this be the best resolution of all?

As I write my "SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week" book, I share stories of people who are postponing what’s important to them.

They tell themselves that someday they’re going to take that vacation, get back into shape, pick up that hobby they used to love, be more adventurous and brave.

Yet a happier, more deeply satisfying life doesn’t have to be about going new places, doing new things, meeting new people.

In the long run, what will matter most is love, kindness and gratitude.

As the Buddha said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Welcome 2018. May we all be a little bit more ...human KIND.

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?

Day Right Quote #57: The Meaning of Life is to Find Your Gift, the Purpose of Life is to Give It Away

Such wisdom from Pablo Picasso, "The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away." Have you found your gift? What is that? How are you giving it away?

A friend gave the commencement address at her alma mater. Some of the grads took the stage and with a flourish opened their gowns to reveal they were wearing t-shires underneath that said, "I DON'T KNOW."

Hah. The perfect answer for students who DON'T KNOW what they're going to do with their degree, career, life.

Many know they want to be happy. They just don't know how to do that.

The thing is, as Leo Rosten said, "The purpose of life isn't to be happy; it's to matter, to feel it has made some difference we have lived at all."

Leo Rosten

Please understand, I'm not saying it's not important to be happy. It is. It's just not WHY we're here.

We're here to make a difference - and one of the surest ways to do that is to identify our gifts and gift them back.

Are you not clear what your gifts are? Want a short-cut to finding out?

What puts the light on in your eyes? Is it singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument or sport?

Is it fixing something, growing something, building something?

Do you have a knack for words, for language, for stories?

What do people admire about you and say, "I wish I could do that" ... yet it comes "naturally, easily" to you?

What do you love to do? Look forward to with eagerness and anticipation?

What brings you joy? Makes you feel purposeful, that you're making a positive difference?

Those are all your GIFTS.

Now, figure out how you can TEACH THAT TO OTHERS or DO THAT FOR OTHERS.

Wrapping your career around your gifts is the surest way to expand your impact - for good.

Don't keep your gifts to yourself. That puts an unnecessary ceiling on their value.

Sharing your gifts is a way to set your SerenDestiny in motion.

Giving away your gifts is a way to scale your service and become wealthy in what matters.

Gifting your gifts creates a "rising tide" ripple effect where more people benefit from what you do well.

And isn't that what we all want?

P.S. If you'd like specific ways to do this, check out my book IDEApreneur.

pablo picasso

Day Right Quote 55: To Love and Be Loved is to Feel the Sun From Both Sides

David Viscott said, "To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides." So true.

One of the most important lessons-learned from my Year by the Water is that it is NOT always better to GIVE than RECEIVE.

It is better to give AND receive.

So many of us are so busy doing and giving to others, we don't allow them to give to us.

There is a grace in giving and a grace in receiving.

Connection is a two-way street.

Are you enjoying and being blessed by BOTH sides of the sun?

david viscott