Philanthropy Expert and Transformational Change Agent
APRIL 10. 2019
THE KEYS TO HAPPINESS AND JOY
(The following article first appeared in the April issue of AdviseHER, the official magazine of the Women In Insurance and Financial Services)
What would it take for you to make tomorrow a day filled with happiness and joy?
What would it take for you to make tomorrow a day where you enjoy an inspired and productive work/life balance?
What would it take for you to make tomorrow a day where you followed your dreams and met all of your goals?
What would it take for you to change your life for the better?
For me the answer came in a very unexpected way. I got hit by a taxi.
Or rather, I got hit and then run over by a taxi. Twice. The car was estimated to have been traveling at 35 mph. At that speed, the doctors expected I would be hurt, bruised, bleeding, or at least sporting scrapes and scratches. But oddly, I was physically perfectly fine. I got up the next day and went back to work. But something in my thinking had changed.
As I detail in my latest book, “I Got Hit By A Taxi, But You Look Run Over,” while patiently waiting in the ER that night I experienced a perfect moment of clarity about the value of balance, the power of joy, the need for passion in our work, and how combining all three could lead to transformational change in our lives. Granted, it came to me in a voice that rather candidly said, “It’s all bulls--- except happiness and joy,” but good advice is good advice, no matter what language it uses.
Women are renowned as change agents in society, and we have a long history of creating positive growth in the world at a dramatic level, but making transformational change in our own lives can be harder to achieve -- and I don’t recommend a speeding taxi for anyone.
Before the accident, I had hurried through overloaded workdays, rushing from meeting to meeting, usually complaining that I wasn’t having any fun, and wondering when happiness and joy would finally to come into my life. I’d ask myself “Why?” but I never knew the answer. The answer is that only I could make meaningful change in my own life.
Since the accident, I have lived my life with the understanding that transformational change – in any arena of our lives is completely achievable when approached with passion and a plan. When we stop asking, “How will it happen?” or “Who will help me get there?” and make a plan of action for ourselves, then even the most intimidating goals -- getting a new job, owning a home, finding a good partner, or even just living a life of happiness and joy – can be achieved.
So how do you begin to live a balanced and inspired life? How do you make transformational change?
Start small. I believe in The Power of Three: do three little things a day – three for your personal happiness, three for the world and three for your goals – and in time they will build happiness and joy in your life and keep your perspective on the things that really matter.
For my personal happiness, I do these three things: I have a really good cup of coffee each morning, I take time each day to exercise, and I enjoy an excellent glass of wine at the end of the day.
For the world, I pick up a piece of garbage off the ground every day and throw it away in its proper receptacle. I also write a piece of personal correspondence to someone. When was the last time you received a handwritten note from someone in your mailbox? A small, simple gesture like that truly can change someone’s day, and perhaps inspire their life. I also try to pay someone a genuine compliment each day. Sending positivity to myself and into the world can fuel us for success like nothing else.
Lastly, I do three things toward my goals every day – taking small steps toward everything from learning a new language or building my client base to completing my next book. When you make it a priority to focus on your goals but do it in small manageable bites, you can achieve anything.
For example, did you know that in 1912 Juliette Gordon “Daisy” Low founded the Girl Scouts with the simple goal of getting girls more access to the outdoors? Their first meeting had only 18 members, but today the Girl Scouts boast more than 3 million members and are responsible for the largest financial literacy program for girls in the nation. One woman taking a small step toward a manageable goal has, over time, impacted millions of lives in countless ways that she couldn’t have imagined. And we can all do that.
Another example of what we can achieve when we live an inspired and balanced life is the Ms. Foundation for Women. The oldest women’s foundation in the U.S. began as a conversation between four friends -- Gloria Steinem, Marlo Thomas, Patricia Carbine and Letty Cottin Pogrebin -- and 45 years later, it is a landmark example of using collective power across race and class to achieve social justice.
By following our passions, making a plan of action and taking small daily steps toward our goals, we can transform and inspire not just our own lives but the lives of people in our communities, our world and even future generations.
How do you live your life? Is it out of balance? Lacking inspiration? You don’t need permission to grow. You don’t need anything external in your life to change before you can begin. And you definitely don’t need to wait for a taxi to hit you! By taking small steps, you can achieve transformational change starting today.
You can simply begin to live a balanced and inspired life, and by doing so, your world will be transformed in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.
Professional philanthropy means I've spent my entire career facing Big Asks, and I'm proud to say that Big Asks aren't only manageable - you can even learn to love them!
THE LADY WITH THE BIG ASK is here to teach you what it takes to ask for what you want and get it - from donors, board members, bosses, coworkers, employees, and in your life.