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

It has been wonderful hearing back from people how helpful the Happiness Quiz-Box has been in helping them identify ONE THING they can do to be happier now, not later.

As promised in the Audible recording, we wanted to provide a sample of it here - with instructions - so you can print it out and fill it out with a friend or family member.

Here's how it works. Have you ever played a word-association game where someone asks a question 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."

The goal of this exercise is to listen to and honor your GUT - because it has the answers to your HAPPINESS TEST.

Promise to write down your first response to the following questions. No censoring or second-guessing what comes up. Your first response is usually the most honest response and that's the goal. This is the one place you get to express what you might have been hiding or denying because it wasn't "nice" or "politically correct" to admit.

Sam Horn’s Happiness Box

Happiness Quiz.jpg

Please print out The Happiness Box in the photo above.

Now, answer the following questions in the appropriate square.

Square 1: “What are you DOING in your life that you WANT TO?” Walking your dog? Spending time with your kids? Getting out in nature on weekends? Going to concerts? Doing meaningful work?

Square 2: “What are you NOT DOING in your life that you WANT TO?” Not starting a business? Not dating or meeting your soul mate? Not writing? Not traveling? Not working out? Not getting enough sleep?

Square 3: “What are you DOING in your life you DON’T WANT TO?”  Commuting two hours a day? Over-eating? Spending too much time on social media or watching too much TV? Working on the weekends?

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 toxic, unhealthy, unwanted behaviors you've quit and are successfully keeping out of your life. Maybe you used to smoke and don’t anymore, and you never want to pick up a cigarette again.

When you’re finished, circle your responses in Square 1 and 4. Those are what I call the “Bill of RIGHTS.” They’re what’s “right” with your life. They’re contributing to your happiness

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

Please note: none of us are perfect so we will always have things “wrong” with our life - things we’re putting off.

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 youwant 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."

Would you have given the same answers in Square 2 and 3 a month ago or a year ago?

Square 2 and 3 are where SOMEDAYS lurk. They nare regrets waiting to happen.

They are the priorities that, at some level, you're promising yourself you'll do someday when you're not so busy, when you have more money, or the the right person, or the right set of circumstances ... whatever.

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

If you want RESULTS instead of reasons and regrets, it’s time to start acting on at least ONE THING in Square 2 or 3.

You may be thinking, “But Sam, it's complicated. I have so many responsibilities. I;m kind of locked into this situation. There’s not a lot I can do to change things.."

I understand. The good news is, you don't have to quit your job, abandon your responsibilities or win the lottery to improve your quality of life.

All you have to do is identify one thing you can change in Square 3 and it will often free up time, energy and motivation to do something about what's in Square 2.

What I have found is that if you carve out ONE hour a week for something that puts the light on in your eyes, that lifts your spirits and makes you feel good, that is just for YOU - it can compensate for the other 95% of your life that is a compromise or out of your control.

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

A young woman who had been the lead in her high school plays and active in community theater had come to NYC with stars in her eyes. Two years later, she was still waittressing, sleeping on a friends' couch, and going to one audition after another with no success.

She was about to go home with her tail between her legs. What she wasn't doing in Square 2 was having fun or making friends. What she was doing in Square 3 was getting rejected all the time at auditions and doing a job she hated to pay bills.

These were big problems, but there was an "easy" fix that only took 90 minutes a week and only costs $25. She started going to Daybreaker. (Read their fascinating backstory here.)

Daybreaker is a morning dance party that meets at cool places (an art loft, historic theater, museum or cruise ship) so she gets to experience the city. It has a welcoming committee at the door (instead of a bouncer) so she feels included instead of anonymous or at risk. It features yoga, healthy snacks and uplifting dancing where EVERYONE is on the floor having a fabulous time. It's from 6 am - 8 am so she can still be at work by 9 am. And at $25, she can afford it on her budget.

She said, "I made more friends in two hours than I have in two years. Plus, I'm finally part of a fun community that I enjoy being around and look forward to being with."

Her story shows we don't need more time or money to be happy, we need more ingenuity.

Please note: this didn't require a major life overhaul, it did require taking responsibiity for improving her quality of life vs. kvetching about it. She can't control everything (whether she lands a role on Broadway), she can control doing one thing every week that makes her like her life. Instead of feeling powerless and hopeless, she now feels powerful and hopeful.

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

Please understand, it's not selfish to do one thing every week you enjoy and look forward to, it's smart. It’s not indulgent, it’s an investment.

Post your Happiness Box where you'll see it every day as a reminder that the quality of your life is in your hands. What will you do today your future self will thank you for?

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency and TEDx speaker, is on a mission to help people create the life, work and relationships of their dreams. Her books have been featured in NY Times, on NPR, and presented to Intel, Capital One, Cisco. Want Sam to host a SOMEDAY book club for your community or organization? 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?

LIFE HACK 9: INNOVATE a Fresh Start

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."



It's About Time: 20 Quotes to Motivate Us To Make the Most of Our Days

“The thing is, we think we have time.” – Buddha

My dad thought he had time. His dream was to visit all the National Parks when he retired. He worked six-seven days a week most of his life. He was an honorable man who felt a deep obligation to make an enduring difference for the people he worked with and for.

He achieved that goal. But at a cost.

Dad finally took off on his long-delayed dream a week after he retired. A week after that, he had a stroke in a hotel bathroom. He eventually recovered, but he never got to visit Banff, Zion or the Grand Tetons. He never got to do what he had dreamed of doing his whole life.

I don’t want that to happen to me.

I don’t want that to happen to you.

I don’t want that to happen to anyone.

Please, right now, change your perspective about TIME.

Change the way you think about it. Change the way you talk about it. Because it matters.

Do you talk about “never having enough time?”

About being “behind time?” About waiting until you have “more time?”

Please understand you will never have MORE TIME than you have RIGHT NOW.

The only way to make the most of your time is to spend it on what really matters now, not someday. Assuming you’ll have a chance to do what’s important later is a path to regrets.

Take three minutes right now to figure out one thing that is important to you in the following six areas of life. Assign a time metric to these time intentions so you have a way to hold yourself accountable for them.

I’ve provided a few examples to prompt your thinking. Please write down what comes to mind because what occurs to you first is often top-of-mind because it's calling you.

Relationships: I will:

· Go on Date Night with my partner once a week.

· Read bedtime stories to my kids 5 nights a week.

· Call my mom every Sunday night.

· Host Game Night with friends every other Monday

· ­­­­­__________________________________________

Health: I will:

· Go for a 30 minute walk six days a week.

· Eat lean, green and protein (no carbs) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

· Work out with a personal trainer three times a week.

· Make a long-overdue appointment with my doctor and dentist today.

· ________________________________________________________

Career: I will:

· Schedule an appointment this week with my boss to discuss a project I’d like to lead.

· Register for an industry conference or professional training in the next two months.

· Sign up for Toastmasters or LinkedIn training to improve my communication skills.

· Volunteer to mentor a junior employee or new-hire for a hour once-a-week.

· ___________________________________________________________

Contribution: I will:

· Contribute to a friend’s Go Fund Me or Kickstarter campaign this week.

· Volunteer at the animal shelter, my church or a local non-profit twice a month.

· Give a 50% tip every week to a service employee (e.g., waiter, maid, taxi driver).

· Establish an annual scholarship to support the education of others in my profession.

· ____________________________________________________________________

Finance: I will:

· Sit down with my family at our holiday meal to discuss my estate plans.

· Establish a monthly budget with a max for household purchases, entertainment, etc.

· Schedule an appt. this month with a disability and long-term health insurance expert.

· Hire an accountant/bookkeeper this month to organize my taxes and financial records.

· ­­­­­______________________________________________________________

Personal Development/Interests: I will:

· Play a sport - tennis, racquetball, pickle ball - at least twice a week.

· Join the writer’s support group at my local bookstore and start my book this week.

· Plan a summer cruise to the Bahamas that I’ve been wanting to go on for years.

· Sign up for a cooking course and host monthly dinners with new recipes for friends.

· ­­­______________________________________________________

Want a way to make this fun? Print this post out and take it to lunch with a friend. Or print it out and discuss it over dinner with you and your partner or with your family.

Divvy up the time so each person gets a minimum of ten minutes to talk through how they plan to invest their time in each area.

Please notice the verb invest. From now on, the goal is to invest your time mindfully, instead of spend it mindlessly.

Invest means making thoughtful choices about how, where, why, to what and to whom you allocate your time so you're making meaningful use of it.

To that purpose, I’m sharing 20 thought-provoking quotes on time that can increase your awareness and appreciation of the all-important role it plays in your quality of life.

Simply said, being more mindful of how you invest your time is the single best thing you can do to create a quality of life that is congruent with your values and priorities.

Aviation pioneer Chuck Yeager said, "At the moment of truth, there are either reasons or results." Investing your time wisely is a tantible way to produce results instead of regrets.

You might want to post these quotes where they’re in sight, in mind so you keep how you invest your time … top of mind.

20 Motivating Quotes to Make the Most of Your Time

1. “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” - Carl Sandburg

2. “The bad news? Time flies. The good news? You’re the pilot.” – Michael Altschuler

3. “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.” – Paulo Coelho

4. “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” – nurse Bonnie Ware, reporting the #1 regret of people at the end of their life

5. “We have two lives and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” – Confucius

6. “The future is already here and we’re already late.” – John Legend

7. “Now is the new later.” – Sam Horn

8. “Tomorrow is another day, but so was yesterday.” – Rene Ricard

9. “The first step to getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” – J.P. Morgan

10. “Time is a created thing. To say 'I don't have time' is like saying, 'I don't want to.” - Lao Tzu

11. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard

12. “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin

13. “If you’ve made a decision and haven’t taken action, you haven’t really made a decision.” – Tony Robbins

14. “It’s only possible to live happily-ever-after on a day to day basis.” – Margaret Bonnano

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

16. “As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” – Henry David Thoreau

17. “How did it get so late so soon?” – Dr. Seuss

18. “You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” – C.S. Lewis

19. “We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.” – Nelson Mandela

20. Until you value yourself, you won't value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.” – M. Scott Peck

Pope Paul II said, “The future starts today, not tomorrow.”

The time is ripe to value yourself and value your time. The time is ripe to change your future by beginning to invest your time in what will matter in the long run … today, not someday.

- - -

Sam Horn, CEO of the Intrigue Agency, is on a mission to help people make the most of their time, now not later. Her books - POP!, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention - have been featured in NY Times, Forbes, INC and Fast Company and presented to NASA, Intel, Cisco, Boeing, ASAE. This is excerpted from SOMEDAY is Not a Day in the Week (St. Martins Press, 2019).

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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.

There is No Such Thing as a NORMAL Day

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

So, I am.

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

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

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

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

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

“Normal day,

let me be aware of the treasure you are.

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

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

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

One day I shall dig my nails into the earth,

or bury my face in the pillow,

or stretch myself taut,

or raise my hands to the sky

and want, more than all the world,

your return.”

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

How about you?

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

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

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

Every day we’re alive is a gift.

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

Let us not race by this day.

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

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

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

But it is so,

right here,

right now,

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

if we are present to it and grateful for it,

instead of waiting for a special day or for SOMEDAY.

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What Are You WAITING For?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What Are You SETTLING For?

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

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

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

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

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

"What's that?"

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

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

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

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

Yes I would, Glenna. Yes I would.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are you settling for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* What would I do if I could afford it?

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

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

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

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

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

- - -

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

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It's Never Too Late to Be Who You Want to Be

"Are you talking yourself INTO what you want to do - or OUT OF it?" - Sam Horn How satisfying it was to cross the finish line of the Bolder Boulder 10K. I still can't believe I almost took myself out of the running ... before it even started.

Here’s what happened.

The BB is one of the largest 10K races (6.2 miles) in the country with 50,000 participants. I planned to be in the area visiting my son Tom, and thought it’d be a fun event to do together. It would give us something to train for and look forward to. A memory in the making.

This is no ordinary race. It’s got water slides, a singing Elvis, a Macarena dance-along, costumes, parents with babies in backpacks, shuffling dinosaurs, all with the stunning Colorado mountains as a backdrop.

Unfortunately, in the days leading to the race, the wimp inside me started speaking up.

“You’re not in good enough shape to finish. You didn’t train the way you should have.”

“Your knee has been popping out of place. What if that happens in the race?”

“It’s going to be a hassle getting into town, trying to find parking with all the crowds.”

Who was this unwelcome voice, this nay-sayer, taking pot shots at my dream?

Growing up, I had promised myself I wouldn’t become a grump, grousing about my age and aches and pains, taking myself out of the game of life. Yet here I was doing what I had promised myself I wouldn’t.

I had organized running programs in Washington DC when I was in my twenties. We would take people who hadn’t run before, and with the support of our enjoyable group jogs around the monuments and Smithsonian, they could finish a 10K after six weeks of training.

Yet here I was, worrying whether I could finish six miles … walking. Embarrassing.

The good news? George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.”

It’s also never too late to be who we want to be.

I told those doubts to get lost and started focusing on what a one-of-a-kind OPPORTUNITY this was. I reminded myself how glad I would always be I went ahead and did this instead of backing out.

I realized Tom and Patty could go at their pace, I could go at mine. That removed pressure. I told myself that if I needed to drop out, I could; but I would make that decision DURING the race, not BEFORE.

The night before, Tom opened our race packet, got out our t-shirts, pinned our numbers to the front, and researched the event online. After seeing all the closed streets, he wisely ordered an Uber so we could zip into town the next morning with no problems. Doing the actual prep made it all easy peasy.

Memorial Day dawned bright and sunny. A perfect day. The excitement and sheer fun of being surrounded by people making the most of their health and life was inspiring.

My comfortable pace allowed me to genuinely enjoy and imprint every step of this memorable experience. I wasn’t fast, but I finished ahead of the dinosaur. Only in the Bolder Boulder can you say that.

As I came up the final hill and into the stadium, I kept thinking, “I did it. I did it.”

Those words “I did it. I did it” are a fountain of confidence.

Every time we step up and do something that is in alignment with who we want to be, we like ourselves and our life a little bit more.

Every time we back out of something we want to do, we chip away at our confidence. We think less of ourselves when we pass up opportunities that would make the most of our life.

What is your version of the Bolder Boulder? What is something you want to do - have been thinking about going for - but those nay-saying doubts are creeping in?

Whether it's going for a promotion, getting involved in Toastmasters, applying for a job, or saying yes to speaking at a conference - you will never regret putting yourself into the game of life; you will only regret taking yourself out of it and wondering what might have been.

Ask yourself, “Am I going to be a spectator or a participant?"

Which feels better? Which will you always be glad you did?

You will never regret saying yes to life; you will only regret saying no and missing out on the satisfying, confidence-building opportunities and experiences that could be yours.

I'm speaking from experience. It's never too let to be who you want to be.

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What if Your Day Job WAS Your Dream Job?

I was telling a colleague that bringing our whole self to work isn’t a fantasy; it can be a reality. She wasn't too sure about this and asked, “How so?” "I don’t think we have to silo our passion and profession. We can blend our work and recreation so we have the best of both worlds and our day job becomes our dream job.

She still wasn't too sure about this. She asked, What’s an example?”

“I will always remember a woman who took my workshop at San Francisco State University. We were discussing how our life-work satisfaction is directly proportionate to whether we feel our contributions at work are being rewarded and recognized. It’s hard to like our job if we feel our skills, talents and efforts are going unnoticed and unappreciated.

A twenty-something woman raised her hand and said, “I’m in trouble then because I’m really unhappy at work. I work for a law firm downtown. I’m one of twenty paralegals. We work sixty hours a week but we’re mostly anonymous. I don’t even think my boss knows my name. He probably wouldn’t recognize me if he ran into me on the street.”

“Okay, time to get proactive. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan said, ‘Anyone who waits for recognition is criminally naïve.’ It’s time to take responsibility to raise your profile at work.”

“I agree with that. I just don't know how to do it."

“The way to enjoy and look forward to your work is to ask yourself:

* What is a talent, skill or hobby I’m good at?

* What is something I enjoy doing? (Please note: it doesn’t have to be work-related)

* What would I do more of if I had the time, energy and resources?

* What did I used to do for fun that put the light on in my eyes?”

She thought about it for a moment and then said, “Well, I was Student Body President at my high school. I loved being in charge of activities, so I guess I’m good at organizing events.”

“Okay. Combine that with something you enjoy. What do you like doing in your free time?”

“Well, I used to enjoy reading books, but I don't have time for that anymore.”

“Bingo. Why don’t you host a monthly book club at your firm? Is there an empty conference room you could use at noon? Keep it to a half hour and make it BYOL (Bring Your Own Lunch) so even the busiest staffers can attend. If you focus on business books, your company will see this as a win for them and will be more likely to approve it.”

She loved the idea. Several months later, she got back in touch to report in.

"Work has turned into my own private Cheers – everyone knows my name. When I proposed this to my boss, he asked what books we would be reading. I followed your suggestion and had selected business classics like Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Deborah Tannen’s Talking from 9 to 5.

“Not only did he approve the program, he said our law firm had a budget for professional development and offered to purchase up to 30 books a month for book club attendees.

Four employees showed up for our first meeting. I wondered if it was going to succeed. But everyone promised to bring a coworker next time. They did more than that; they brought two and three. Now, we max out the conference room every month.”

“Kudos to you for initiating this and for proving we can bring our whole self to work."

She said, “It gets better. My boss called me in to his office. I was afraid it was to cancel the program, but it was just the opposite. He gave me a promotion and said, 'We need more self-starters around here. You demonstrated that you’re a natural leader who can create a community and add value to our work culture. You earned this.'

Best of all, I feel like I’m my old self again. I’m organizing activities people really enjoy and I get to use my event-planning skills. Who knows where it will lead?”

Good for her.

How about you? Would you like to look forward to going to work?

Would you like to boost your professional confidence and create a higher profile so your talents, efforts and contributions at work get noticed and appreciated?

Ask yourself, “What am I good at that I enjoy ? What did I used to do that put the light on in my eyes? What do I wish I could do more of? How could I initiate that at work?”

For example, maybe you used to walk but don’t have time for it anymore. Maybe you could propose to your office manager that you lead a walking group at lunch. There are probably co-workers who would welcome the opportunity to get outside for a walk-talk (after all, sitting is the new cigarette smoking). Plus, it will boost morale and create a workplace camaraderie where employees get to know each other beyond their job descriptions.

Furthermore, you’ll be taking your career satisfaction and success into your own hands.

Don’t just think about this. DO IT.

This time next year you could enjoy your job and look forward going to work – all because you initiated on your behalf and turned your day job into your dream job.

- - -

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

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Change Doesn't Take Courage - It Takes Clarity

"You can't be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide, overthinking it. You have to go down the chute." - Tina Fey We can want to change, even know we need to change, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we will change. It takes urgency and clarity to change things up. Here's what I mean.

A forty-something woman names Beverly raised her hand in a SOMEDAY presentation in Waikiki and said, “I’ve been to inspiring keynotes before. I go home all fired up, then life intervenes, and two weeks later everything is back to same old, same old. Any suggestions?”

I told her, “Have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity. An S.E.E. is a Significant Emotional Event. Unfortunately, most are dramatic or traumatic. We get fired, divorced, have a heart attack or lose a loved one. This forces us to re-evaluate the way we’re living. We realize there are no guarantees so we’re motivated to focus on what's important and change things up now because we realize we may not get a second chance. The way I see it, why not have a pretend S.E.E. so we get the epiphany without the pain?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Like what?”

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

I said, “Okay, let’s hack that fear. One way to hack fears is to realize they don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right. Do you know about the swim area by the Natatorium where Duke Kahanamoku used to swim? It’s only three feet deep so there’s no way you can get in over your head, and there’s only one small opening in the sea wall so the surf can’t get in and neither can the sharks. Let’s put a date on the calendar so you don’t wiggle out of your intentions. When are you leaving the islands?”

“We fly out in two days.”

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

“It’s worth a try. But why 6 am?”

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

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

The next day Beverly texted, “I DID IT!” with an exclamation point and smiley face emoji.

What is a change you want to make? Instead of vaguely promising yourself you’ll do it someday, could you have a pretend S.E.E. to give yourself a sense of urgency and clarity so you’re motivated to act on it today?

If fears are holding you back, ask yourself, “What will matter a year from now?” Remember, fears don’t prevent things from going wrong; they prevent things from going right.

As Tina Fey points out, we can't be that kid standing at the top of the waterslide never going in. Courage is just remembering what's important.

You will never regret doing something that makes you happier, healtheir, more fulfilled. You'll only regret playing it safe, letting fear win, and taking yourself out of the game of life.

- - -

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

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Someday is the Busiest Day of the Week

"On the last day of the world, I would want to plant a tree." - W. S. Merwin Do you keep promising yourself that someday you'll make time for your creative project or something you really care about?

Please understand there will never be a right time and you'll never have more time than you have right now.

Someday is the busiest day of the week.

You might want to follow Poet W.S. Merwin's example and get serious about your passion project instead of frittering away time and talent on lesser priorities.

As Executive Director of the Maui Writers Conference, I had an opportunity to interview Merwin at our very first Presenters Reception. On a full moon night, under the palm trees on a Kapalua beach, I asked him, "What is one of the most important lessons-learned from your career?”

I'm paraphrasing here because I did not write down what he said (that’ll teach me) however the gist of his remarks was choosing to concentrate on his craft was the best decision he ever made on behalf of his career.

As the winner of a Pulitzer Prize, Merwin received dozens of invitations every week. He realized it would be oh-so easy to become part of the “glitterati” and that his work would suffer if he said yes to every request. He and his wife Paula were clear that continuing to live in NYC would mean they would continue to be surrounded by temptations that would pull him away from the work he was born to do. So, they moved to Maui to live a simpler life where he was freer to concentrate on his true priorities.

I thought, "There’s a man who knows what is important to him."

I’ve come to believe this is one of the biggest challenges we face as creatives. We are constantly torn between craft and commerce - between making art and making a living.

I've also come to understand that our environment either helps us or hurts us. If we are surrounded by distractions and demands, our dream projects may never get out the door. It is up to us to take charge of our circumstances so that, like W.S. Merwin, we can concentrate on what will matter in the long run.

Are you taking your creative contribution seriously? if you believe your work will add value, it's up to you to devote yourself to it instead of allowing yourself to waste time on lesser activities that, at the end of the day, won’t contribute to the greater good.

You may be thinking, “I agree with this in theory, but it’s tough to do in practice.”

Agreed. Which is it is so important to establish clear boundaries on what you will and won't focus on. Here are a few best-practice tips on how to do that (culled from my ConZentrate and IDEApreneur books). Hope they help you stay finish your projects and get them out in the world where they can make a positive difference for others and a prosperous living for you.

1. REDUCE time online. Many writers admit they are addicted to their digital devices. To what purpose? How much time do you spend online every day? When you look back at the end of your life, will those thousands of hours have made an enduring difference? Commit right now to policies with metrics. For example, vow to check email and social media only AFTER you finish writing instead of all day, every day. A study by MIT reveals we check our phone 140+ times a day. What a misuse of time that could and should be spent on completing higher-priority work that will have positive impact.

2. Wake and Work. Wake and Work means exactly what you think it means. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Get up, grab your cup of coffee or tea, sit down and apply what Power of One author Bryce Courtenay called, "Bum glue." Tackle other tasks only after you have produced something tangible (two pages?) to show for your efforts. The Psychology of Complettion says we get a thrill of achievement and a boost in self esteem every time we finish something. And, as you know, "rewarded behavior gets repeated." So, if every time you sit down to write, you complete two new pages, you set up flow and forward momentum and feel you're making progress. This feeling of accomplishment will make you eager to come back and pick up where you left off.

3. Find your Third Place. The science of Ergonomics (the study of how our environment influences our effectiveness) says your home is your First Place and your office is your Second Place. If you work on your creative project at your home/office, that’s your First and Second Place.

Ergonomic experts say it’s almost impossible to stay focused on creative projects in your First and Second Place because your environment keeps reminding you of the laundry, bills, client work or household chores you customarily do in that space.

Your Third Place (a nearby coffee shop? local library?) is a public place where you can work in private. Working there kick-starts creativity because it 1) it socializes your work process but without the downside of being constantly interrupted by people asking you to cook dinner or find their backpack. 2) Instead of stalling because you're operating in isolation, you get to piggy-back off the energy of people in the room.

3) Does the name Pavlov ring a bell? If working on your dream project is the only thing you do in your Third Place, it sets up a repeat ritual where the faucet of flow opens up every time you walk in because THAT's what's associated with that environment. Many clients tell me their Third Place is their saving grace. It is the only time and space where they can escape their job/family responsibilities and make their creative priority their top priority.

4. Reduce accessibility. Are people constantly asking to pick your brain? Do you find it difficult to say no when someone begs for your advice, support, time, mind or dime?

Mark off time on your calendar where you devote yourself to your creative project. Set aside certain days (every Tuesday?) where you are available for public appointments and activities. And, instead of letting someone buying you lunch or a cup of coffee, go for a walk/talk so at least you're outside getting fit.

You may worry you will offend people by taking yourself off the grid. You might want to ask yourself, “Am I supporting everyone else’s priorities at the cost of my own?”

it is our responsibility to think big and to think long on our behalf of our dreams.

What is the long-term cost of being available to others 24/7? I am not suggesting we become a recluse. W.S. Merwin isn’t a hermit; he is simply selective about how often he is accessible. He balances public requests with his dedication to his legacy work, which keeps the light on in his eyes and keeps him contributing at his highest level.

How about you? How will you hold yourself accountable for focusing on what will matter in the long run ... now, not later?

Joseph Campbell said, "The big question is whether you are going to say a hearty yes to your adventure."

Remember, someday is not a day in the week. How will you say YES to your adventure? How will you NOT wait to the last day of the world to plant your tree?

- - -

Sam Horn is on a mission to help clients create a quality life-work that adds value for all involved. Her books - including POP!, Tongue Fu, IDEApreneur! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? - have been featured in New York Times, Forbes, INC and on NPR and presented to NASA, Boeing, Capital One and National Geographic. 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?

It's NOT Too Late To Do What You Want to Do

“The world was shocked to learn I wrote a bestseller at 66. No matter how long you live, you have stories to tell. What else is there to do but head off on the Conestoga wagon of the soul?” – Pulitzer Prize winning author Frank McCourt, Angela’s Ashes When people tell me they wonder if it's too late to pursue their dream, I share this eloquent response Frank McCourt gave in the Q & A following his keynote when one of our Maui Writers Conference attendees asked, "Did you ever give up hope?"

If your goal is to make a difference, you have a right and a responsibility to get your work out of your head and into the world. Have you ever thought of it that way? If your creative project might benefit others; it’s almost selfish to keep it to yourself.

Dreams in your head help no one. Sharing your creativity doesn’t come from arrogance, it comes from service. It’s an offering, a way of saying “Here’s something I feel, believe, have learned or created. I hope it might be of interest and value to you.”

Yet, many people start with the best of intentions and then life intervenes. They get distracted, busy, overwhelmed. Doubts creep in and they start wondering if they're too old. They put their project aside – and never get back to it. That’s a path to regrets.

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

If you want results instead of reasons, select a quote from below that resonates with you. Post it where you’ll see it every day. It's a tangible way to keep your intentions in-sight, in-mind vs. allowing them to drift out-of-sight, out-of-mind.

“If you wait for inspiration to write; you’re a waiter, not a writer.” – Dan Poynter

“Nothing works unless you do.” – Maya Angelou

“Every creative project needs a spine. What’s yours?” – Twyla Tharp

“When asked "what was the secret to finishing your 500 page masterpiece The Power of One?' author Bryce Courtnay growled, 'Bum glue!”

“Creativity is always a leap of faith. You’re faced with a blank page, blank easel or an empty stage … and you need to jump into it.” – Julia Cameron

“If my doctor told me I had only 6 months to live, I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

“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." - Paulo Coelho

“Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” – Peter DeVries

“If you are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, the problem is, you’re thinking like an amateur. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, does his work, keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” – Steven Pressfield

“I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” – Steve Martin

“I made a startling discovery. Time spent writing = output of work. Amazing.” – Ann Patchett

“Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it can be a lot of fun until you get the bill.” Christopher Parker

“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes

“The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein

“Best advice on writing I’ve ever received. Finish.” – Peter Mayle

“If you want to be certain, you should never attempt anything creative. In fact, you might as well just stay home. Because I don’t know anybody who is certain. That need to be certain is just procrastination.” – Mark Burnett

“When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” – Anne Sexton

“You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn’t matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” – Erica Jong

“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.” – Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler

“When you speak, your words echo across the room. When you write, your words echo across the ages.” – Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul author Bud Gardner

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind has to know it has to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

“Planning to write is not writing. Writing is writing.” – E. L. Doctorow

“I think the worst, most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will look for some fact to include in the novel, and before I know it, I’ve wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written.” – James Rollins

“There’s a trick I’m going to share with you. I learned it almost twenty years ago and I’ve never forgotten it, so pay attention. Don’t begin at the beginning.”– Lawrence Block

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You work and write; you don’t give up.” -Anne Lamott

“I write because I cannot fly, but words can, and when they land, worlds appear.” – Susan Zeder

“If there’s a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – Toni Morrison

“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May

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

It’s time to feel a sense of urgency about getting your creative project into the world. What’s the story you’re born to tell? The insights you're supposed to pass along that could inspire or enlighten others? The artistic project you want to create?

The time to share it is NOW. As Bob Greene says, "I've heard every excuse in the book, except a good one."

I’ve had the privilege of helping hundreds of people craft quality creative projects.

In all that time, I’ve never met a single person who was sorry they got their creative project into the world; I’ve only met people who were sorry they didn’t do it sooner.

Make 2018 the year you contribute your creativity to the world.

– – – – – –

Sam Horn is the CEO of the Intrigue Agency. Her TEDx talk and books – POP!, Tongue Fu! and Washington Post bestseller Got Your Attention? – have been featured in New York Times, Forbes and on NPR, and have been presented to such clients as Boeing, Intel, Capital One, NASA and National Geographic. Want Sam to share her inspiring keynote with your group? Contact Cheri@IntrigueAgency.com

What We Accept, We Teach

Are you in a situation that makes you unhappy? Have you tried everything to make it better but nothing's worked? Are you staying because it seems too daunting to leave?

We often think an unhealthy, unhappy situation only affects us. No, it's affecting everyone around us. We're teaching them THIS is what a relationship looks like. THIS is how people treat each other. THIS is what life looks like ... people suffer but don't do anything to change things for the better.

I remember one deeply unhappy woman who told me, "When I got married, I took vows for 'better or worse.' Well, this is definitely worse, but I'm a Catholic and no one in our family has ever gotten a divorce, so I'm stuck. It is what it is."

We may think we’re doing the “right thing” by staying in a situation where we’re deeply unhappy.

We’re taught that winners never quit.

We're taught to keep our commitments – for better or for worse.

So, we stay.

We stay in a job we hate to "pay the bills."

We stay on boards and committees with non-stop in-fighting because “it is what it is.”

We stay in a toxic marriage “for the kids.”

The thing is, when we’re deeply unhappy, we’re affecting the people around us, whether we intend to or not.

We have to ask ourselves, “What am I teaching by staying?”

Am I teaching my kids that THIS is what marriage looks like? Two adults who don’t even like each other? Who bicker and co-exist in a loveless relationship?

Am I modeling that this is what a career looks like? Sacrificing decades of our life at a soul-sucking job to provide for our family? If you ask the kids in those families what they want, they’ll often say “We don’t want you working all the time and coming home exhausted and angry every night. We want you to be happy.”

Am I teaching that this is what it means to be on a committee or board? People jockeying for position, embroiled in personality conflicts, spinning their wheels and not getting anything done or making a positive difference?

Am I modeling that the “responsible, right thing to do” is to stay in an unhealthy, unproductive situation even when it’s not adding value?

Wouldn’t it be better to model it's our responsibility to create a healthy, happy life?

Wouldn’t it be better to be teach - that if nothing we've tried has improved a situation - we find/create something better so we’re honoring the time we have left?

Wouldn’t it be better to demonstrate wisdom by leaving a consistently abusive relationship and seeking one where the people involved treat each other with respect?

Isn’t that what we all want, need and deserve?

Isn’t that what we want to teach?

Isn’t that what we want for our loved ones and what they want for us?

Happiness sets up a ripple effect. So does unhappiness.

What ripple effects are you setting in motion?

If you won’t replace a toxic situation with something more positive for yourself, will you do it for the people who are watching and learning from your example?

Please note: I’m not suggesting we act impulsively or irresponsibly. I understand there are circumstances where we do what we don't want for a certain amount of time because it serves a greater good. What I'm suggesting is we stop waiting for things to get better and start initiating sto make them better ... now, not someday.

One day or Day One. You decide.

(And if you're in a toxic relationship that is causing the unhappiness, you might find this article helpful. It has questions to help you decide if you're dealing with a toxic 5%er who is not motivated to change because they want CONTROL, not cooperation.)

Ideas in Your Head Help No One: Quotes to Get Your Work into the World

After organizing, emceeing and speaking at writers conferences for more than twenty years and publishing 8 books with a variety of publishers, my #1 lesson is this ... IDEAS IN YOUR HEAD HELP NO ONE.

Yet many people start their projects only to abandon them because doubts creep in. Who am I to write a book? Is this any good? Will anyone want to read it?

To them, I say, writing doesn't come from arrogance; it comes from service. Have you ever thought of it that way? If you have experiences, expertise and epiphanies that could benefit others; it's almost selfish to keep them to yourself.

Writing is an offering. It's a way of saying "Here's something I've observed or experienced; something I believe, know or think. I hope it might be of interest and value to you."

Yet, many writers start with good intentions and then life intervenes. They get busy; overwhelmed, put their creative project aside and never get back to it. That's a path to regrets.

Are you waiting for more time - for the right time - to work on your creative project? Face it. You'll never have more time than you have right now.

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

If you want results instead of reasons, post these quotes where you'll see them every day. They'll keep your intentions to get your work into the world IN SIGHT - IN MIND instead of allowing them to drift out-of-sight, out-of-mind. They can help you focus on and finish your creative projects.

“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." - Benjamin Franklin

"Nothing works unless you do." - Maya Angelou

When Bryce Courtenay (author of The Power of One) was asked the secret to finishing his 600+ page magnum opus, he said wo words ... "Bum glue!"

"Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life." - Lawrence Kasdan

"Creativity is always a leap of faith. You're faced with a blank page, blank easel, or an empty stage ... and you need to jump into it." - Julia Cameron

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

“If my doctor told me I had only 6 months to live, I’d type a little faster.” – Isaac Asimov

"You've got to be a good date for the reader." - Kurt Vonnegut

“Inspiration usually comes during work, not before it.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 a.m. every morning.” – Peter DeVries

"If you are struggling with fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, etc., the problem is, you're thinking like an amateur. Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, does his work, keeps on truckin', no matter what." - Steven Pressfield

“I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.” – Steve Martin

“I made a startling discovery. Time spent writing = output of work. Amazing.” – Ann Pachett

“Ever tried and failed? No matter. Try again and fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

"Procrastination is like a credit card: it's a lot of fun until you get the bill." Christopher Parker

“It’s never too late – in fiction or in life – to revise.” – Nancy Thayer

“If you want to write, you can. Fear stops most people from writing, not lack of talent. Who am I? What right have I to speak? Who will listen to me? You are a human being with a unique story to tell. You have every right.” – Richard Rhodes

“The way to resume is to resume. It is the only way. To resume.” – Gertrude Stein

“Best advice on writing I’ve ever received. Finish.” – Peter Mayle

"If you want to be certain, you should never attempt anything creative. In fact, you might as well just stay home. Because I don't know anybody who is certain. That need to be certain is just procrastination." - Mark Burnett

“When I am writing, I am doing the thing I was meant to do.” – Anne Sexton

“You can sit there, tense and worried, freezing the creative energies, or you can start writing something. It doesn't matter what. In five or ten minutes, the imagination will heat, the tightness will fade, and a certain spirit and rhythm will take over.” – Leonard Bernstein

“I went for years not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged. I had pieces that were re-written so many times I suspect it was just a way of avoiding sending them out.” – Erica Jong

“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.” – Lakers basketball coach Phil Jackson

“The faster I write, the better my output. If I’m going slow, I’m in trouble. It means I’m pushing the words instead of being pulled by them.” – Raymond Chandler

“When you speak, your words echo across the room. When you write, your words echo across the ages.” – Chicken Soup for the Writers Soul author Bud Gardner

“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” – Carl Sandburg

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind has to know it has to get down to work.” – Pearl S. Buck

"Planning to write is not writing. Writing is writing." - E. L. Doctorow

"I think the worst, most insidious procrastination for me is research. I will look for some fact to include in the novel, and before I know, I've wasted an entire morning delving into that subject matter without a word written." - James Rollins

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

"There's a trick I'm going to share with you. I learned it almost twenty years ago and I've never forgotten it ... so pay attention. Don't begin at the beginning." - Lawrence Block

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

"I write because I cannot fly, but words can, and when they land, worlds appear." - Susan Zeder

"If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it." - Toni Morrison

“If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May

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

"The idea is to write it so people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." - Maya Angelou

"You know you're on the 'write track' when the words flow out so fast your fingers can hardly keep up." - Sam Horn

"Writing for me is simply thinking through my fingers." - Isaac Asimov

"Almost everything will work better if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you." - Anne Lamott

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

"Think left, think right, think low, think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try." - Dr. Seuss

"Don't you know yet? It is your light that lights the world." - Rumi

"No joy in the writer, no joy in the reader." - Robert Frost

"I'm not anti-social; I'm just pro-solitude." - Grumpy Cat

"The world is not made up of atoms; it's made up of stories." - Muriel Rukeyser

"Nobody reads a book to get to the middle." - Mickey Spillane

"It take an awful lot of time to NOT write a book." - Douglas Adams

"If you don't like my book, write your own." - Rita Mae Brown

It's time to feel a sense of urgency about getting your work out in the world.

As Paulo Coelho says, "One day you'll wake up and there won't be any time left to do the things you've always wanted to do."

What are ideas, observations, lessons you have that deserve to be shared? What is the story you were born to tell? What is a legacy message that could inspire or add value for others? What is a creative project you want to contribute?

As Dan Poynter used to say (Dan was a visionary on behalf of self-publisnging and spoke at MWC many times), "If you wait to write, you're not a writer, you're a waiter."

Promise to sit down today, and every day, and dedicate time to move your project forward. Even if it's proofing a chapter, writing a paragraph or two, or fleshing out a story you want to share; something is better than nothing.

Follow Walt Whitman's advice. "The secret of it all, is to write in the gush, the throb, the flood of the moment – to put things down without deliberation – without worrying about their style – without waiting for a fit time or place. I always worked that way. I took the first scrap of paper, the first doorstep, the first desk, and wrote – wrote, wrote, wrote. By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught."

Wow, "By writing at the instant the very heartbeat of life is caught."

That's the most important epiphany from my 17 years as Executive Director of the Maui Writers Conference. Our best-selling authors (e.g, Frank McCourt, Mitch Albom, Carrie Fisher, Dave Barry, Nicholas Sparks, Susan Isaacs) didn't agree on everything. What DID they agree on? "Ink in when you think it."

If you want to get in that lovely state of flow where your thoughts are coming so fast your fingers can hardly keep up, jot thoughts when they're hot. Muse 'em so you don't lose 'em. Draft, then craft. First get it written, THEN get it right.

As someone who's helped hundreds of people write, publish and market quality books, I promise, "You will never regret getting your work out into the world; you will only regret not getting it out there ... sooner. Write on!"

Spring Free From the Comparison Trap

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

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

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

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

How do we do that?

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

Here's an example.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam Horn's Four Minute - Four Box Happiness Quiz

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please note: we’ll always be things “wrong” with our life. None of us are perfect. The question is, “HOW LONG?” How long have you been doing these things you don’t want to do? How long have you not been doing the things you want to do?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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