Find Happiness: Get Your Life on One Page™

by William S. Frank, President/CEO of CareerLab®

This is a breakthrough concept. In a busy world where we’re juggling multiple priorities and expected to do it all, your “Life on One Page” (L1P™) serves as a guide. It’s about achieving focus, clarity, purpose and meaning, and about building community for yourself—that is, feeling more OK with your place in the world. The premise is that if you can get your life on one page, you can manage it.

There are numerous goal setting programs on the market. This is different, because it isn’t just goal setting—it’s about finding life’s meaning and purpose. In addition, it’s self-created and one-of-a-kind. It isn’t part of a system. You provide the structure, you determine what’s important. You are the center of this exercise—it’s all about you.

The problem
We live in a complex world. Everyone you talk to is “too busy.” We seem to be riding our horses in all directions. Never-ending media input creates confusion about what we should be, do, or have. “What’s my focus? Where should I spend my time? What’s valuable?” These are the kinds of questions we can no longer answer.

Ten Basic Rules
Although the basic concept is “no rules,” there are some guidelines that will help you develop a useful tool for yourself.

    1. Simplify. It may seem obvious, but you must limit the document to one 8-1/2×11″ page, no exceptions. When in doubt, leave it out.
      “Our life is frittered away by detail . . .
      Simplify, simplify, simplify!”
      —Henry David Thoreau, On Walden Pond
    2. Yet include everything you would enjoy being, doing, having. Include such things as goals and objectives, observations, dreams, hints, placeholders.

    3. Embellish. Play. Be as creative as you want. Use different colors. Add artwork. Make drawings-or turn the entire page into a drawing, mind-map, or collage. You are the artist.

    4. Set reachable goals. Well-written goals have at least five (5) characteristics. Besides being written in a language a 12-year-old would understand, they should be:
      • Desirable. You have to want to pursue them.
      • Believable. You honestly think you can.
      • Achievable. Don’t attempt to pole vault 16’6″ on your first ever attempt. We defeat ourselves by setting goals that are too high. Missing a goal reinforces our bad feelings about ourselves and makes further pursuits difficult. It’s better to set a series of small achievable goals than one large blockbuster.
      • Measurable. Instead of writing “Lose weight,” try “Lose 2-1/2 pounds.” Instead of writing “Have enough to retire by 55,” try “Net worth of $800,000 by age 55.”
      • Time-centered. “Lose 2-1/2 pounds” isn’t a goal, but “Lose 2-1/2 pounds by July 31” is.
      • Time-centered. “Lose 2-1/2 pounds” isn’t a goal, but “Lose 2-1/2 pounds by July 31” is.

    5. Seek balance. If your L1P™ is 95% work, you could be missing something. Your life may be one-dimensional, which is fine, as long as it’s a conscious choice. Ask yourself, “How is my career affecting my wife/husband/partner/family/children?” Better yet, ask them how they perceive it. Parents with young families will find balance harder, but not impossible. Remember Aristotle’s “golden mean” —moderation in all things. 

      Remember, money isn’t everything. There’s a greater good than having a high-paying job: having a balanced, happy life. Dennis Prager wrote a book called “Happiness is a Terrible Problem.” He says if money caused happiness, millionaires would all be happy. But of course, they aren’t.

    6. Stop doing. Peter F. Drucker, the well-known management authority said, “If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.” Sometimes stopping is more important, and more difficult, than beginning or continuing. One quote I like said, “It’s easier to get in than to get out.” I’ve found that to be true in my own life. Some of the most painful times have involved getting out. Make a 4-column chart like the one below and see what it reveals:

    7. Inspire yourself. Include motivational or inspirational quotes. Quote your heroes, favorite authors, motivational speakers, celebrities, TV personalities, world leaders. Or quote the Bible or spiritual teachings. Quote your family, friends, parents-anyone you hold dear to your heart. Showcase your values. If you have a personal motto or life mission, include it. This chart is all about what you stand for.

    8. Don’t grade your work. There is no good or bad, no right or wrong. You can’t do it badly.

    9. Revisit and update. This is a living document. Much like a resume, it won’t help you if you don’t think about it, revise it, and use it as a guide for your life. Doing it once will help; revisiting it often adds power. If you put something into your page, take something else out.

    10. Share it. In order to gain maximum advantage from your “Life on One Page,” it helps to get input and energy from others. Every time I’ve shared mine with friends, they want to do their own, and this leads to more sharing. Ultimately, this exercise is about achieving focus, clarity, purpose and meaning for yourself, and about building community.

Benefits of L1P™

    • You have a sense of focus, clarity, purpose and meaning for your life. You know why you’re alive.
    • You feel more organized and in control.
    • When someone asks, “Can you do X,Y, or Z?” you know exactly what to say. You may find it easier to say no than you have in the past.
    • You have greater alignment with the important people in your life: spouse/partner, children, family, friends, co-workers, customers-everybody.
    • You stop feeling “There isn’t enough time,” realizing that there’s plenty of time if you rearrange items on your chart.
    • Greater happiness is a byproduct.

Downsides of L1P™ 

    • Your L1P™ assures you that you can’t do or have it all. There are only 24 hours in the day, 168 hours per week. There isn’t enough room on the page for anything and everything. This sobering realization can cause some sadness and disappointment. When I did mine I realized I’m human, I’m limited, I can’t do everything. I can’t both care for my 91-year-old father in Arvada and also cruise the Mediterranean at the same time. However, I realize I can travel later.
    • You may discover regrets. The scholar and mythologist Joseph Campbell said, “We always regret the unlived life.” Married people with children regret not being carefree singles. Carefree singles regret not having loving children. [Of course, singles these days adopt children. But you understand the principle.] There’s no way to live life regret-free; regrets are built into the human experience.
    • You may have to say no more often. If everything has to fit together into a coherent whole, spending $595 for kickboxing lessons may have to wait.

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