In my private counseling practice, clients often tell me, "I want to be happy!" We then set about making it a reality. As a psychotherapist, I know that Your habits, your relationships, your environment, and especially what you think about them determine more about how happy you are than your genes do; because I’ve watched so many people figure out how to meet their goals and create their own happiness. You can improve any part of your life you wish: your relationship with yourself, your relationships with others, your work life, your home life, and even your health. The following steps will help you reach any goal you set for yourself.
Four Steps to Success
(1) Choose the goal.
(2) Break it down into small, non-intimidating steps.
(3) Do something. (If you can’t get yourself to do it, you haven’t made the steps small or easy enough—go back to step 2.)
(4) Celebrate what you’ve done (yes, every little step).
For example, suppose you’re interested in bringing more physical activity and music into your life, and choose a folk-dancing class. Break the goal down into manageable steps: (1) Call around to find out what classes are available; (2) choose a class to attend; (3) enroll in the class; (4) go to the first class meeting; (5) evaluate the class as to whether it’s a good one for your purposes.
Those steps may seem simplistic, but that’s the idea. Make it as easy as possible to do each step. That way you won’t be discouraged by "I can’t" before you start.
Breaking your goal down into the smallest possible steps makes it easier to accomplish the next phase: Do something. Many of us know how to set goals, but not how to achieve them, so we’ve "proved" to ourselves over and over that we’re failures. That’s not true at all. The failure lies in not having completed the rest of the Four Steps to Success.
You’ve just made the third step to your goal as simple as possible, so there are no reasons not to take it. Go ahead, and focus on the third step only: Do something.
After you’ve taken the third step, celebrate. Recognition of what you’ve accomplished is important. It also helps to celebrate each step you take toward your goal as you take it. This way you won’t run out of energy before you achieve success, and you’ll keep encouraging yourself as you proceed.
Your celebration can be just looking into your mirror and saying, "Congratulations, you’ve just made the first (second, third) step toward achieving your goal" Or your celebration can be more elaborate, such as toasting your accomplishment with a friend or two. It can even be a major party. The important thing is that you do something to make sure you notice you’ve had some success, however small. It is this celebration that will give you the courage and confidence to go on all the way in achieving your goal.
As you achieve your goal, go back to the Four Steps and choose a new goal; then follow the steps through again. Repeat this until you’ve created or achieved what you want.
(c) 2009 Tina B. Tessina adapted from:"The Ten Smartest Decisions a Woman Can Make After Forty" (Renaissance) ISBN# 1_58063_181_9
Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D. http://www.tinatessina.com is a licensed psychotherapist in S. California, with over 30 years experience in counseling individuals and couples and author of 13 books in 17 languages, including It Ends With You: Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction (New Page); How to Be a Couple and Still Be Free (New Page); The Unofficial Guide to Dating Again (Wiley) and The Real 13th Step: Discovering Self-Confidence, Self-Reliance and Independence Beyond the Twelve Step Programs (New Page.) Her newest books, from Adams Press in 2008: Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage and Commuter Marriage. She publishes "Happiness Tips from Tina", an e_mail newsletter, and the "Dr. Romance Blog" http://drromance.typepad.com/dr_romance_blog/ and has hosted "The Psyche Deli: delectable tidbits for the subconscious" a weekly hour long radio show. Online, she is "Dr. Romance" with columns at Divorce360.com and Yahoo!Personals, as well as a Redbook Love Network expert. Dr. Tessina guests frequently on radio, and such TV shows as "Oprah", "Larry King Live" and ABC news. Follow her on www.twitter.com/tinatessina.