Didja ever actually accomplish your New Year’s Resolutions?

Here’s a great interview with Robert Mack, a celebrity life coach, bestselling author of “Happiness from teh Inside Out: The Art and Science of Fulfilmment,” and one of the most coveted, sought-after guest speakers on happiness and success.

1. Rob, you’re an expert in the field of positive psychology and “living a better life,” what does that actually mean, and how did you get started?

Positive psychology is the study of what makes life worth living; it’s the science of character strengths, virtues, happiness, and success. “Business-as-usual” psychology or traditional psychology, on the other hand, is the study of what’s wrong with people; it’s about weaknesses, mental dysfunction, and mental disease. I was led to the University of Pennsylvania’s Masters in Applied Positive Psychology because I’ve had a burning desire to live and help other people live their happiest, healthiest, and wealthiest lives. I’ve never been satisfied with focusing on limitation and all of the things wrong with the world. Instead, I’ve found my greatest joy and wildest success when I began to turn my attention to all that was right with the world and its people.
2. You’re working with Carnival this week as part of their “Didja” campaign – what is the nature of your relationship to that campaign, what are you trying to accomplish?
This year, I’ve teamed up with Carnival Cruise Lines to encourage people to try new things. We’re making 2011 the year of getting fun done. To that end, we’re asking people “Didja Ever?” For instance, we’re asking people: “Didja ever go skydiving?… Didja ever zip line?… Didja ever learn a new instrument?… Didja ever write a book?… Didja ever take your dream vacation?” The point is to inspire people to dream big and then to take real action towards the realization of those dreams. The world is a big place and life is full of exciting adventures…. and it’s all at our fingertips and for our choosing.
3. Tell me more about this “Resolution Revolution” – what’s the story there?
A survey commissioned by Carnival recently found that a third of people make resolutions each year. Of those people, less than half of them are successful with those resolutions. Clearly, we could all use some help with successfully setting and achieving goals. One of the most important things in that regard is to take a new, positive approach. Say “no to don’t” and “yes to firsts.” In other words, resolutions need not be burdensome and need not feel like drudgery or something you must do. When you set goals or resolutions that you dread, you’re much less likely to stay committed, to persist. Therefore, you’re much less likely to achieve your goals or resolutions. But when you make resolutions that are fun or set goals in ways that inspire and excite you, you’ll stay committed and you’ll accomplish more than you dreamed. More importantly, you won’t just find yourself happy if and when you accomplish your goals or resolutions – you’ll also find yourself happy and inspired along the way toward realizing your dream, too. When you come aboard our “Resolution Revolution,” you’ll be happy now and happy later, too. And that’s the point, don’t you think!?

4. What would you say are the most common mistakes people make when trying to make a New Year’s Resolution?
1. Keep it fun. A goal or resolution shouldn’t be something you dread every day. Instead, it should be something that inspires and excites you; it should be something that you look forward to everyday. The more fun you have with your goals and resolutions, the more likely you’ll stay committed.
2. Make it personal and meaningful to you. Make sure your goals are your own and not somebody else’s goals. Also, make sure they are really, truly important to you. Don’t set a resolution just because you think you should. Set a resolution or goal that will change your life. The more personal and meaningful your goal, the more effort, excitement, and energy you’ll invest.
3. Chunk it down and take baby steps. Break down your dream or vision into smaller, more measurable chunks or sub-goals. Take baby steps every day. Sometimes I tell clients to set the bar on their daily sub-goals so low that they’d be embarrassed if they weren’t able to achieve them. For instance, if you’re not a gym rat, don’t set the goal of trying to run 7 miles every day. Instead, just commit to showing up to the gym no matter what. And that leads to the next tip…
4. Be consistent and allow no exceptions. Consistency counts more than intensity. Of course, you’ll be most successful when you’re consistently intense. But, when in doubt, ratchet down your goals so that you can be consistent no matter what. You’d be surprised what just showing up, so to speak, will do for you, your life, your relationships, your career, and your goals and resolutions.

5. I know recent survey data says that 9 out of 10 people have a “bucket list,” do you have one? Do you recommend people make one?
I love the idea behind “bucket lists.” I prefer the term “life lists,” personally, because “bucket lists” sound like last ditch efforts to make something of your life before you “kick the bucket,” so to speak. Ha! Nonetheless, the idea is a good one – a list of things that you’re committed to doing in the name of making the most of your life. Life lists are great ideas. They help to bring a sense of adventure and fun back to your life, they give you something to look forward to, and they remind people of how precious and valuable each moment can be.
I certainly have a life list. This year for instance, I’m dedicated to finishing my second book, getting to South America, and spending more time with the people I care most about.

6. What would you say are the most common questions people often ask you when they bring you on to be their “life coach?”As a life coach, questions from people run the gamut. The most popular questions often revolve around relationships – romantic, platonic, and familial ones – and questions around managing time and money. People often ask me how they can stay more motivated. So many people seem to be getting more done with less time and money. So questions around how to better manage their time and money are always popular.And, as I mentioned, people always seem to be looking for love, too. I get lots of questions around improving or changing relationships.At the end of the day, however, all of the questions – no matter how different they seem – are really about how to live a happier life. It’s interesting how many different approaches people take to living a happier life. Happiness means different things to different people and at different times in our lives. To all people, however, happiness means feeling better and more fulfilled in all areas of life.

7. If you had three things to tell my readers (many of whom are Mom’s) what would you tell them?

1.  Make happiness your top priority and number one goal in your life. If you want to be successful (and who doesn’t want to be successful!), know that the most successful people in the world – the people that make $750k more over their lifetime, that live 6-7 years longer, that have better relationships, that experience less job burnout, that get better performance reviews at work, that require few doctor visits, and that generally experience more success in all areas of their life – are happy before they become successful, not just after they are successful. In other words, happiness isn’t the only success; happiness also leads to success. So make happiness the ultimate currency in your life.
2.      Learn as much as you can about happiness. The first step to being happier is knowing what happiness is, does, and means to you. One of the things you’ll find is that the happiest people are the most charitable (they give the most blood and money), the most generous, and the kindest people in the world. Contrary to popular opinion, science has found that the happiest people are the most unselfish people, too. So, remember this: your happiness is your gift to the world! You can only give what you have so take care of yourself and your happiness and everything that you touch will become happier for it, too. What’s more, positive emotion makes us  more creative, productive, and efficient. So the better you feel, the better and clearer you’ll think and act. As counterintuitive as it seems, being happy – despite the circumstances and conditions of your life – will save you time and money.
3.      Begin TODAY to take positive steps toward creating a happier life. Don’t get so caught up in creating a successful and happy life that you forget that it’s the happy or successful moments, when strung together, that make for a successful and happy life. So get out there and participate in life, pursue your dreams, try something new, and just plain have more fun with everything and everyone! What can you do today to have more fun? What plans can you make? What new things might you try?

Finally, one of the great things that Carnival is doing for 2011 is encouraging folks to visit their Facebook page and write down what their goals are for the year – what’s on their “Life list” and what they’d like to try for the first time. They’re going to compile all of those firsts into one big list, and throughout the year they’re going to be fulfilling some randomly for various fans. They’re also going to be giving away one cruise a month, so definitely worth checking it out.

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