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What Would You Do If Your Future Held INFINITE Growth Potential?

Today I bring you another quote from The Back Forty archives. Take a moment to read it and then meet me on the other side as I unfold the meaning it holds.

The Back Forty

First and foremost, if you’re asking what the heck the “back forty” of the ranch is – check out my previous post on that topic by clicking here.

Great! Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the quote. It isn’t often that we think of our second half of life as being “uncultivated”, “full of possibility”, or holding “infinite growth potential”. After all, when we think of our second half of life we usually think of things like slowing down, predictability, and stability.

But, if you actually take the time to think about it, it is all of those things that we think it is not.

It is a new adventure waiting to unfold.

It is a chance to use all of your knowledge from your first half of life to create whatever you want for your future.

It is entirely in front of you.

In this way, your life IS uncultivated, full of possibility, and holding infinite growth potential. So take a moment to think about what adventure you want to work towards. After all, it’s all ahead of you!

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Conscious Whole, Piece by Piece

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Are you in?  Yes, these are trained professionals, and yet DO try this at home!

What is a conscious organization?  I hear that question all the time.

Merriam-Webster defines “conscious” as “the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself.”

Therefore, one might extrapolate that same definition to a “conscious organization”, with “oneself” being the whole of the parts.

For ages philosophers have struggled to understand what consciousness really is.  Individual consciousness is a hefty enough subject, and when we start to look at organizational consciousness, eyes begin to glaze.

How do you wrap all of that individual consciousness into a bigger whole of consciousness? Well, that question circles back to the idea of consciousness itself being a non-localized phenomena, something expressed through yet bigger than the sum of its outlets.

As described by John Renesch “the Conscious Organization is one that is continually examining itself, committed to becoming as self-aware and responsible as it can at any given time in its life.”

For sure, organizational consciousness means different things to different people.  Yet, as we engage in the inquiry as to what it is, ideas and direction begin to form.

I recently had an opportunity to chat with Bryan Ungard from The Decurion Corp. Harvard Business Review published an article in 2014 (see it here) naming The Decurion Corporation a deliberately developmental organization.”  

Bryan brought up what he believes is the pre-requisite of building a conscious organization.  In his view, it is making a deliberate choice to come from the mindset that there is no tradeoff in being a high performing organization producing high returns while also being an excellent place to work, committed to providing people a place to flourish.  

According to Bryan, flourishing includes several aspects.  

  1. Wholeness – only one part of a human being or only one part of an organization cannot flourish, so Bryan looks at what it means to be whole as both a person and as an organization.  
  2. Connection – nobody flourishes by themselves in isolation, so Bryan suggests looking at how we are related to other people, our authentic connections to others and the community.  
  3. Growth and Development – flourishing doesn’t happen without both.

The Decurion Corporation is a rare organization where doing intense and deep personal work – that means work on the whole of the person, not just their job – is not only encouraged but required.  

We all have opinions on how the world works – based on our individual wisdom and life experiences.  And yet, those views and opinions are based on our perceptions, not “the truth.”  Letting go of the way we think the world works, old ways of being in how we interact with people, and old ways of taking action to produce results can be very challenging…and there’s no way of knowing that you will succeed.  And yet, that is the only path to real growth.

At the Decurion Corporation, daily activities of getting work done are used as a “training ground” to create consciousness.  The idea is to have the entire organization operate on the foundation of mindfulness, consciousness and being present, and thus to enable the individuals in the workplace to do the same.

What if we take that one piece of advice and make it inherent in how we lead?  My bet is that this alone is sure to set us on the course to produce some truly amazing results, and thereby building truly amazing – and conscious – organizations.

Who’s in?

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8 Why’s To Have People Development as Priority 1

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What if development of people became our organizational raison d’être?

“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”   ― Friedrich Nietzsche

What is the purpose of business?

Milton Friedman, a Nobel-prize winning economist, wrote that the purpose of business is maximizing profit for the shareholders.

Peter F. Drucker said that “the purpose of business is to create and keep a customer” and “the purpose of an organization is to enable common men to do uncommon things.”

Blaine Bartlett, bestselling author of “Compassionate Capitalism” says that “the purpose of business is to uplift the quality of life on this planet.”

This is my personal favorite:

“Business is where you practice your human skills. It’s where you grow.” Andrew Cherng, Co-Founder and Visionary, Panda Restaurant Group, Forbes’ 2015 America’s Best Employer.

Part of Panda’s expressed mission is “becoming a world leader in people development.”  According to Vipul H. Shah, Regional Director of Operations at Panda Restaurant Group,Panda exists to better the lives of people, and we build an organization to allow that to happen.  How we do this is selling American Chinese food.”

Andrew Cherng has more to say about that: “I’m talking about everyone who works at Panda. They’re inspired to better their own lives.  We’re not really selling Chinese food, you know. Our real purpose is about developing people.  You have to grow! You grow as a person, and then you will grow in business.”

Why would we, as leaders and visionaries in Conscious Organizations, want to make development of people our raison d’être?

8 Why’s To Have People Development as Priority 1:

  1. When an organization is committed to transforming people’s life, people bring back to work their transformed self along with new mindsets, behaviors, and ways of being.  As a consequence, they produce results and create solutions that were not possible before.
  2. People become more fulfilled, confident, happy, and self-expressed, often finding a clearer sense of direction in life.  Their personal life and relationships improve which, in turn, positively impact their achievement and satisfaction at work.
  3. Transformation and growth is challenging.  As people begin to dig deeper and learn about themselves, they start to understand who they really are and why they do what they do.   Their sense of purpose crystallizes, resulting in clearer focus in their work.
  4. People develop a better understanding of others, causing communication and connectedness to drastically improve.  As a result, R&D and Sales work well together, and so do Accounting and Marketing.  Teamwork, collaboration and effectiveness skyrockets.
  5. As people grow, they become willing to “play big,” step outside the box, take on challenges, make mistakes, fail, get up and try again – knowing the company has their back.  They achieve results and performance levels that could not have been achieved by “playing safe” and staying in their comfort zone.
  6. As people are being challenged, how they learn to respond to challenges (rather than react or retract) becomes important.  This builds resilience and stamina.
  7. Everyone in the organization begins to take responsibility and ownership of their work and their roles.  This results in a company-wide “buck stops here attitude,” free of blame or finger-pointing.
  8. When everyone takes full responsibility and 100% ownership of any situation, there is no space for anyone to be a victim.  Leadership becomes not a title of authority but a chosen mindset.

This sounds like an organization I want to be a part of!

Bottom line is this: if we make development of people the purpose of our business, all other purposes fall into place:

  • Shareholder profit is maximized
  • Customers will be kept and created
  • Common men and women will be enabled to do uncommon things
  • The quality of life on this planet is uplifted

How could this apply to your organization?

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Tips for Inconvenient Leveling UP

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“Get comfortable being uncomfortable. That’s how you break the plateau and reach that next level.”

-Chalene Johnson

We’ve all heard Albert Einstein’s idea that you can’t solve a problem at the same level at which it was created. His challenge was to rise up, to the next level, so as to see and deal with the problem from a higher perspective.

And yet many of us with dreams and goals ahead (a problem) can be deceived into believing that we can get to that next level easily and effortlessly, or by playing the way we have already been playing at this particular plateau.

Let’s face it: it’s damn inconvenient to take on growth and fulfillment as a lifetime pursuit!

I spent a 4 day weekend with a wise, high-performance leader 14 years my junior. I admired how he had taken on breaking through to the next level for himself as a pattern of life from the age of 19, and was apparently continuing to do so forever.

I noticed a bit of reticence at first to being open to someone who’s been on the planet less time than me telling me about how life really works.  However, I quickly realized that voice was my own Back Forty Blinder, the old mindset that says “I should know all this by now.”

So, I shook it off in true Back Forty Fliers style and again affirmed that we all have our path and we all have the time and place in which we fulfill on what we came here to do…which is, according to our philosophy, always ahead of us, not behind.

I began thinking that, in my growing up and the messages I received from my own shaping cultural influences, there was this idea that you worked really hard until you “made it” to some level and then you enjoyed that “made-it-ness”, got comfortable, and at some point “retired”.

There are lots of folks who are proud to say “I retired at 30” or whatever young age because the idea of having “made it” earlier is seen as a badge of winning.

This is not knocking “made it”, as to get to those points, those individuals had to apply themselves and their wheelhouse of tools and intelligence in wonderful and admirable ways.

Yet, what about the next level after “making it”?

In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”. This is not to knock what has already been accomplished, and yet what’s next?

And, if there hasn’t necessarily been the sense of full accomplishment in our life as lived thus far, this mantra gives us all hope.

What will be required by both parties – those who’ve already “made it” and those who believe they haven’t – is to take on the inconvenience of continual leveling up.

Those inspired to be Back Forty Fliers must adopt a willingness, outside of their amassed “wisdom” of who they are, what they’re capable of, what they can learn, the way the world works, etc., so as to be open, fresh and available to receive new input.

When it comes to midlifers fulfilling on goals and dreams – which may be on the chopping block at this point in life – it’s important to realize that the same sweat, learning processes and jittery uncertain of growth they experienced in younger years can still take them to their next level of fulfillment.

It’s simply a question of willingness to be inconvenienced by growth and fulfillment.

Here are a few tips from my own experience of leveling up.

Expose Yourself

Get outside the box of groupthink mindset you may have surrounded yourself with – same friends, same community, same church, same avenues of exposure – and make yourself available to new people, ideas, and input.

Kids leaving home for college or going out into the world have no choice but to do this, and the process of exposure begins to point them in directions of discovery about themselves, their passions, their interests, and their abilities.

At 40, 50, 60, 70 and beyond, we can learn more about ourselves and our passions, interests, and abilities if we gain more exposure – and let go of all the “wisdom” of the comfort zone we’ve become accustomed to.

Listen

When exposing yourself, be willing to really listen…like a 20-year-old, who is taking in all new information all the time.

The tendency of the “wise” midlifer is to evaluate and assess everything as to whether they agree with it or not, whether they’re capable of it or not, whether it fits their belief system (BS) or not.  Therefore, the groupthink mindset stays in place.

Often, there’s a resistance to engage and consider incorporating new ideas because the inner voice says “Well, if this is right, then I’ve been off my whole life!”…and the ego doesn’t want to consider that possibility.  So, rather than try and engage in something new, it’s far easier to write off the new input as crazy or ludicrous.  Admitting that one doesn’t know it all (yet) can be a big hurdle.

To listen – as opposed to hear – means to truly consider without the slice-and-dice mechanism of cynicism/resignation disguised as discernment shredding every piece of evidence that something beyond who you are now is possible.

Turn off the garbage disposal and listen.

Experiment

Try some of those new ideas, belief systems and practices on.

You have survived very well to this point.  Whatever experiments you choose to engage in won’t kill you for sure.  You’re tried and true “knowing” of how things are might still prevail, even if you experiment.  Just watch that you don’t experiment with the objective being to prove yourself right.  You’ll definitely end up “right”.

Life is too short for knowing too early exactly who we are and what we’re capable of.  And, if there’s something beyond what has come before for you to be and do, then inconveniencing yourself to play around with new toys might be just the shift required to take you to your next level to fulfilling on that.

You have yet to do what you came here to do.

“At the moment when you feel you have reached the point of absolute exhaustion, inspire yourself to take one last step, and that is when you have successfully arrived to the next level.”

-Master Jin Kwon

The 4 Dwarf Faces of Playing Ugly

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“I’m not afraid to play ugly – look at ‘Adaptation.’ I looked like a turd that a cat had coughed up. ”

-Nicolas Cage

The desire to grow and the subconscious commitment to “look good” just don’t jibe.

You can’t get both.  You can grow almost imperceptibly, and maybe keep your suit fairly pressed and most of your makeup in place.  Or you can grow fast…and good luck keeping your hair and tie from blowing in the wind.

In the end, extreme growth, over whatever time period you’ve allotted for it, can only come through trying, expanding, being and looking different than you did before.

Steve Martin had a comedy album in the 70’s entitled “Comedy Is Not Pretty”.

Neither is real, committed, no-turning-back, burn-the-boats growth. It ain’t pretty.

If that growth is what you want, you must allow, accept and even invite mistakes, failed attempts, gaffs, and looking like an ass.  All come with the territory.

For myself, in growing to allow, empower and accept the great gifts of “team” that I’m blessed with – after lots of solo-preneur background – I find myself not necessarily doing things in as smooth or PC a way as I’d like.  In my perfect world, I’d always be accommodating and flexible and impervious to having my ego tweaked…and yet I can’t spend all of my time either in meditation or psychoanalysis with the big game I’m out to play or the inspiring message I’m out to deliver.

Not so say meditation and therapy aren’t valuable and to be used in appropriate ways and measures…and yet perhaps the biggest element to be released as we’re growing is the attachment to looking good as we grow.

In coaching and supporting executives, entrepreneurs and “big game” players, I’ve offered to them the idea that their growth will only be limited by their level of compassion for themselves.  If they can’t accept the mistakes and not-so-pretty appearances they make at times, they will retrench, rationalize a reason for not continuing, or in whatever other ways slow down their growth and whatever that growth was to bring the world.

The world needs you to grow, because you have yet to do what you came here to do!

Here’s a few different faces you can take on when you’re committed enough to something to play ugly.

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Actually take some time to look at yourself in the mirror as you’re complaining about how you didn’t do this or that right, or how silly you must have looked when this or that didn’t work.

Look at that scowl.  Acknowledge that frustration.

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Lighten things up a bit by remembering that you didn’t even know anything about what you’re doing now just a short time ago. Acknowledge that you didn’t know and maybe even still don’t know all that you want…and develop a little more playful, curious attitude.

Whatever you did or didn’t do isn’t going to shift the world. Lighten up!

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Give yourself a little examination. Are you leveling up your self-compassion with your desire to grow and learn and expand? What prescription of self-championing, affirmative self-talk, or extreme self-care can you offer?

Your best source of continued expansion will come from those internal prescriptions of support.

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Acknowledge and appreciate that you’re only playing ugly because you’re one of the small percentage of people willing to get started and play first (before they have it all figured out) so as to get to where you want to go.

Find ways to see and count the blessings of where you are now vs where you used to be, and appreciate (which means “grow in value”) those blessings as getting you closer to where you want to be.

What area of growth in your life means enough to you that you’re willing to play ugly?

You won’t get there by looking Snow White.

“Play in the dirt, because life is too short to always have clean fingernails. ”

-Unknown

3 Ingredients to GrowFlex

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“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

-Bruce Lee

There’s a difference between growing in the wind and blowing in the wind.

We start out with a vision, we set goals, and we move towards their attainment.

By doing so, invite in every challenge and deficiency of being necessary to achieve those goals and fulfill that vision.

Sometimes we’re swayed by those challenges or demands for our upgraded beingness. We can think something is wrong and get upset…in forms like doubt, anxiety, confusion.

For example, we moved forward into 2017 as the first real growth year of The Back Forty and, like wild-eyed dreamers, set some audacious goals.  Keeping up with them – both in terms of time and beingness – has been like being strapped onto a medieval rack: it’s amazing how much stretch can come out of some bodies!

20/20-hindsight questioning of the methods, means or even validity of goals set is the first, default reaction to missed deadlines.  Blowing in the wind can then result.

Yet, realizing that every step of the way, whether a timeline was kept or not, the mere fact that goals and deadlines were in place brought up every what-we-need-to-know-to-grow element required.

In The Back Forty, we say “you have yet to do what you came here to do”…which means, yes, you got it, more growth.  And it’s the very challenges, obstacles and beingness barricades of the environment which shape your budding tree.

Can anyone say a tree “should have” grown differently than it did? Based on environment, opportunity, and an inherent, unique pattern of design, it just grew.

People, plans and organizations often look different in the end from how they begin.

The point is: flexing, growing in the wind, to become.

Jeff Bezos of Amazon was quoted as saying “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”

Here are 3 Ingredients to GrowFlex, the best dreams and goals fertilizer on the planet.

1. Assess-Mess

Pull out from the chaos what has been attained, learned, defined, refined, clarified or requalified in the process of goal-minded pursuit.  There may be a lot of crap to sort through, but manure has always been the most valued growth agent.

2. Re-Vision

A dual-purpose ingredient, involving both the revision and adaptation of deadlines to meet new information while also Re-Visioning by reminding oneself of the initial and overall raison d’être.

3. Committed Unattachment

Living like your life depends on it…while snickering behind the scenes that’s it’s all just a Big Game you’re playing to grow.

Where can you grant yourself and your dreams some GrowFlex today?

“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you’re still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.”

-Tony Robbins

Never Waste the Opportunity of a GOOD Crisis

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Happy Friday everyone!

Today I thought that I would just write a short post about the above quote.

“Never waste the opportunity of a good crisis.”

– Darrell Gurney

Crisis. It’s a word we avoid at all costs. After all, if we are having a crisis then we are in trouble. If we are having a crisis, things are bad.

But are they really? I was inspired by another quote earlier today:

“The midlife crisis is just those times when you’re not so into the things you were when you were younger.”

– Jay Kay

And it got me thinking. Why is a crisis always considered a bad thing? Why can’t we think of crises as opportunities instead of terrible misfortunes? After all, if midlife crises are caused by a change in your personality, that’s a good thing. That means that as you age you are still growing and becoming who you are truly meant to be.

What “crisis” in your life can you transform into an opportunity? Or looking back, what previous “crisis” turned out to be an amazing opportunity?

Special thanks to Encore Voyage for giving me the inspiration to write this!

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I Am In Love with My Wrinkles (Part 3)

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Click here to read part two.

I’ve been sharing with you that I am in love with my wrinkles.  Here’s how I got to fall in love with them…

It all hit me one sunny Sunday morning as Darrell and I were making our way through Los Angeles traffic.   I thought about how I have been transformed by the gift of my life’s challenges, wins and losses, and how much I love the older and wiser version of my Self that I have become.  I saw that my wrinkles are not only part of the package that came with those life experiences, but they were the very stripes and awards earned due to them.  I realized that who I am today is inseparable from the wrinkles that formed me.

Every wrinkle, every experience, every lesson I learned and challenge I faced, contributed to making me exactly who I am today.  All the gifts and talents I now possess and use to create my life according to my own design, to live it on my own terms, and to contribute to others are represented in those wrinkles.  Because of everything I claimed along with the territory of those wrinkles, I am now creating my own inspiring, playful, passionate, and radically purposeful second half of life.

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My grandmother loved her wrinkles!

According to the Ancient Art of Chinese Face Reading, when we erase our wrinkles, we erase our gifts.  Our wrinkles show how we have lived our life and even what we are designing in our future.  Horizontal lines on the face are signs of lessons learned in life when we experience challenging times.  This philosophy states that, if we remove those wrinkles, we lose the lesson… which means we may encounter the same challenge again to re-learn the lesson.  Now why would we want to do that!

My wrinkles remind me of my growth, the path I have traveled, and who I am becoming.  They serve as road signs alerting me to utilize my choice of who I want to be.  They wake me up daily to the power I have to transform who I am as a matter of my word and commitments.

In The Back Forty, we propose that we have all chosen the specific experiences and events of our lives to create a laboratory for research and development which, when assessed, allow us to discover what we are really here to do.

My wrinkles remind me of the lab experiments I chose to conduct in my life to gain the gifts, the learnings, and the growth I now possess.…which give me the keys to an exciting, joyful, and radical Back Forty – my second half – and to living it on my own terms.

I am in love with my wrinkles.

And I invite YOU to fall in love with YOURS.

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Your Yoda

“If you light a lamp for someone it will also brighten your own path.”

—Buddhist Proverb


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At what age does the idea of solid, supportive mentoring first catch us?

As a career/executive coach and spiritual counselor for over 30 years, I watch as so many young folks go out into life just shooting from the hip with whatever moods, whims or impulses hit them…unaware that there is a world of wisdom out there which they could tap into to gain information and make better decisions for themselves. Much less gain access to thought leaders and opportunities that could open doors.

But they say youth is wasted on the young.

I also see many people tied into careers, industries, relationships in life who either never learned the power of supportive mentoring and/or they have grown to an age where they think they “should know by now” and, if they don’t, surely don’t want to advertise it.

However, in The Back Forty, we say that, no matter what your age or what you have accomplished (or not) thus far in life, you have YET to do what you came here to do.

Therefore, life and growth and becoming and fulfilling our purposeful reason for being on the planet is an ongoing game that doesn’t have a time-limit or age-marker on it.

I personally didn’t understand the power of mentoring early in life.  Frankly, due to some perceptions from my childhood, I was actually afraid of strong, powerful men.  Not like men are the only ones who can mentor a young man, and yet I didn’t at all tap into this very valuable and available aspect of life until much later…when I did the work to release the fear of strong, powerful men.

Those of us playing the second half of life could find many and varied reasons for not tapping into the wealth of wisdom and knowledge out there in the areas that we are passionate about.  “I’m too old to try something new” or “Well, this is the way I’ve always done or seen things, and I’m pretty ok with things as they are”…and yet those statements are all-but-too-close to complacency and mediocre living.

IF, just IF you have YET to do what you CAME here to do, what could be possible for you to take on and explore for yourself: in your work, in a relationship, in your interests, in your community impact?

In The Back Forty, we invite you, as well as ourselves, to take on that “the best is yet to come, and babe won’t it be fine”.  Therefore, gaining the supportive mentoring and wise Yoda-ship of those who won’t buy your stories but, instead, will invest in your possibility – this is where to build.

Got your Yoda?

“There is no lack of knowledge out there…just a shortage of asking for help.”

—Mark Carter

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Find Your Bliss

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When we are young we are asked what we want to be when we grow up. When we are a little older we are asked to pick a career. Then life happens. We find a job, work our way up in the company, raise a family, get settled in our routine – and get stuck.

When was the last time you thought about what you enjoy doing? Even more importantly, how often do you do something to make YOU happy? Chances are you don’t focus on your own happiness nearly as much as you should and, at this age, you SHOULD!

Maybe you’re thinking, “It’s been so long since I’ve been selfish and just done things for me, I don’t even know what I want to do!” If this sounds like you, have no fear! I’m here to help.

So how do you find your bliss? Start by just sitting down (with a pen and paper) and thinking about it. What did you used to love doing? Reading? Writing? Creating art or crafts? What have you always been interested in trying, but have never seemed to have the time? Yoga? Skydiving? Meditation? Water Skiing? Traveling?

Make a list of all of these things, and then try them! “I don’t have time” you start thinking.Make time! Schedule an activity for yourself in your calendar. Just do one activity a month if you have to, but start exploring your interests and find what you love.

Once you find something that makes you truly blissful, don’t stop! Make sure that you keep going. Slowly start scheduling it more and more often until it becomes a habit. But don’t stop there. I’m sure there is more than one thing that causes you bliss – keep looking! The more activities you find that make you blissful, the happier you will be.

Just remember to always be open to new opportunities and experiences. Never stop being curious of the world around you. Be willing to try new things and appreciate the joy they bring you. Don’t get too stuck in your routine, be proactive and schedule the time you need to find and follow your bliss. Step outside of your comfort zone every once and a while. And, most importantly, trust that everything will work out. If it seems like everything is going wrong, it just means you haven’t reached the end of your journey. You have the ability to live your bliss, now go find it!

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