Like Cousin Eddie, many in America wander aimlessly through life without a life plan. In Eddie’s case, no matter his situation he seemed happy. Don’t you wish you could be more like Cousin Eddie? What if you could have this kind of joy and a life plan? This is the introduction to a plan that will help you have both happiness and a vision for your future: a Life Plan. The process will be published in three lengthy parts. Stick with it if you are serious about finding true joy.
Why don’t more people take steps to a more abundant life?
There are as many answers to this question as there are people on the planet. However, I can say with assurance, the answers lie dormant waiting to be uncovered. This is where a life coach can help.
Every one of my clients desires to contribute in greater ways. They seek improved personal effectiveness, which translates to greater influence; over self and others. Wise people know this, and invest time and energy into sharpening their skills and talents. All of these are elements of a life plan.
In American culture the desire for greatness is imprinted into our minds at a very young age. “I don’t want to work, I just want to be famous,” is the mantra of many a young person. The process I use in life coaching requires work on the client’s part. Most clients are willing to do this work because the pain they are feeling is greater than the pain of the 2-4 hours each week they will invest in homework.
How Do You Define Success?
All of us define success differently. Your success may revolve around your family or work or volunteer work or any one of a number of things. At some point we’ve all considered what it would be like to be independently wealthy just so we could pursue our dreams. We think this will give us the freedom to pursue our aspirations. And since so few people realize financial independence we settle for life as we know it. Why allow this perceived obstacle to get in your way?
For some, the desire to be famous overrides the hard work and investment in personal improvement! Some are successful at taking a shortcut. Most are not. Every one of us has talent that can be developed but talent alone will only take us so far. Even the most successful athletes have a great work ethic! Developing skill isn’t a guarantee to greater wealth or fame or fortune but it is an advantage. Becoming the best version of you will require hard work and sacrifice. In the end you WILL be more fulfilled.
We celebrate the winners and forget the losers.
Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear the stories of those who tried and failed or those filled with regret. As a rule most of us can’t even remember who lost the last Superbowl unless it was an epic fail like the Seattle Seahawks experienced a few years ago. Ask people who was the first president of the United States, and almost every American can say George Washington. But, who was the second president of the U.S.?
I am a reader who has fallen in love with the lesser known authors. For example, a favorite of many is Mark Twain. His books have sold millions and his wit and manner of speech are unmistakable. Twain had a contemporary, James Whitcom Riley who became a favorite of mine because we are both from Indiana. Here is an example of Riley’s work:
The Plaint Human
SEASON of snows, and season of flowers,
Seasons of loss and gain!-
Since grief and joy must alike be ours,
Why do we still complain?
Ever our failing, from sun to sun,
O my intolerant brother:-
We want just a little too little of one,
And much too much of the other
– James Whitcom Riley –
Riley battled alcohol addiction, and in at least one case, was too intoxicated to fulfill an obligation to read during one of his performances. The public forgave him and his career soared. Perhaps so many could relate to his plight. We will never know. Everyone has heard of Mark Twain but few have heard of Riley. But this is only part of the point I am making.
The over arching objective here is to discover the truth as written from a man who knew that grief is so much a part of finding joy. As I write this, my wife and I are planning our move to Florida, but we are currently in northern Virginia. And, like many who dwell in the northern hemisphere I am ready for the renewal of spring and the coming summer. The older I get the less I like cold and snow. Of course, this poem isn’t about the weather. It is about one’s ability to tolerate the difficulty in life, of which, Riley knew a thing or two.
James Whitcom Riley struggled between fame and addiction much of his life, and truth be told one of his drunken binges was perhaps the very thing that caused him to experience dramatic success. Unable to perform one evening, he was fired in Louisville, Kentucky. With his contract cancelled, he was sure of his imminent demise. Some speculate that he wasn’t very happy about this agreement anyway since he was the star of the show and was underpaid from the outset. As fate would have it, he left Louisville under cover of night and holed up in his Indiana home for weeks. With all the speculation, the crowds demanded more. And more he gave them; short stories, poetry and children’s books made him as popular as Twain for a time.
The moral to the story
What do we learn from this little bit that I’ve described about a man who died more than 100 years ago? A cynic might say the thing we need to do is bury our sadness in a bottle and expect great success just around the corner. I dare say not. All kidding aside, I have a few thoughts:
- Today’s failure may be the very thing that is setting you up for your greatest success
- Recognize the truth of your situation. Move from your subjective reality to the objective reality
- Take responsibility for your current situation and do something about it
- Discover the thing that might give you some creative energy and follow through
Perhaps this simple prodding from a little poem written more than a century ago is just what you need to take action. The lesson for all of us is simple;
There will be seasons when we think the cold and snow is going to last forever. However, we must remember spring is just around the corner even if pollen and allergies will make us miserable. We’re going to have difficulty but we can find joy in all of it!
By the way, if you’re wondering about “plaint,” you will find it’s origin in the 13th century: to complain, lament or howl.
So grab your kleenex and antihistamines and join me in finding the best in all our circumstances.
I am not a sociologist or psychologist. I am a person who has discovered that life is much more than a great job or position of power or fame or wealth. Sooner or later all of us discover this timeless truth. It took me decades and my hope is you are able to short circuit this truth and learn from the mistakes of others. Dr. Henry Cloud said in Necessary Endings, there are 3 kinds of people; wise, foolish and evil.
The wise learn from others
The fool may never learn from their own mistakes
And evil people simply want to hurt you
If you’ve stuck this far in this article, you may be considering hiring a coach. Perhaps a little self serving but this is the action of a wise person.
There are three parts in my life coaching practice:
- Discovering one’s deepest desires begins with a look at the past and finding victory over it.
- Next, we complete an accurate assessment of reality. This is about your identity and the story of your life to date complete with strengths, weaknesses, infirmities as well as core values and passions.
- Lastly, a good coach will co-create a plan that addresses your personal effectiveness by addressing facts from your past, present and the person you wish to become.
This article is the introduction to a book I’ve written that provides an overview of the process I follow in my coaching practice. Over the next few weeks I’ll be publishing the remainder of the book in 3 parts. The book is a summary of observations from hundreds of hours of coaching.
By the way, if you are wondering, John Adams was the second President of the United States. And, I hope you take time to read the next 3 articles, which will lead you to a more abundant life! You can also schedule a free consultation HERE.