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Happiness Isn’t One-Size-Fits-All – The Deep-Divers Guide To Lasting Success

Written by: Sarah McNicol, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Have you already realised some substantial goals? Almost certainly.

Has achieving those goals delivered the deep or lasting levels of satisfaction you hoped for? Though you may have experienced an initial high when securing a promotion, passing a qualification, delivering a project, acquiring a shiny new possession it likely didn’t last long.

One reason for this is, that although you felt genuinely motivated to achieve them, the goals were not really your own. Goals often come from outside of us. From media, family expectations, and cultural norms. Much of what we readily think of as goals worth aspiring to, lie within a narrow and external definition of what constitutes success and what will deliver happiness. In addition, our individual determination to achieve them arises from a faulty belief that we are not good enough as we are, and the related survival instinct that drives us to prove our worth.

The route to a more enduring and rewarding experience involves pursuing goals that are specifically attuned to you and giving yourself permission to be guided by what feels good.

So how do you do that?

  • Give Yourself Permission - Repeatedly remind yourself you have nothing to prove and everything to gain.

  • Look Inside - For inspiration and direction.

  • Suspend Practicality - Give your imagination free reign.

  • Take Your Time - Allow deeper, less obvious, sometimes buried, or hidden desires to emerge.

Let’s have a look at each approach in more detail.

Give Yourself Permission

Right from the outset, ask yourself why you are making changes? What in general terms do you want to create for yourself, and why that is important to you? Then regardless of what others may be doing, give yourself permission to pursue that.

We are exposed to a ubiquitous and narrow definition of what success looks like. The common version includes consumer luxuries; homes, holidays, travel, cars, financial security, power and status etc. All of us have been so immersed in marketing messages and media versions of success that it requires independence of mind plus courage to identify your own version of success and set your own goals. Start by considering what is meaningful to you? What are your values? What really matters?

When you give yourself permission from the outset, to pursue what is most meaningful to you, you open the door to sustainable joy and meaning.

Look Inside

Your next step is to look inside yourself, not outside, for inspiration and direction. Connect with your innermost self. Not the part of you that is in the habit of impressing or pleasing or fitting in with others.

Happiness/contentment/satisfaction/fulfilment (choose your own word) is an inside job, despite what advertisers say. Quality of life comes from how we feel physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally.

So, how do you want to feel? Before you build a detailed picture of your new chapter, focus on the intangibles. Ask your innermost self what feelings you desire to have. Imagine how you would love to feel upon waking up each morning? During a working day? In the evening? At the end of the week?

On weekends, holidays, and days off? In the next year, 3 years, or even the next decade of your life.

Express how you desire to feel, in writing, vividly, using evocative words.

Suspend Practicality

The next step requires you to suspend practicality and give your imagination free reign. What do your wildest dreams look like? If anything at all was possible, what could you imagine for your new chapter?

What does your unique version of utterly amazing look like?

If anything were possible, how would your mornings, days, weeks, months, and year pan out?

Keep asking yourself what your own version of amazing might look like. Feel with your heart. Do not let your head lead. Focus on what you most desire, not on how you will realise it.

Remember too, we all carry limiting beliefs. Thoughts that keep us from dreaming too big. These limiting beliefs sound like “It's a pipe dream, a fantasy. You are kidding yourself. You’ll never be able to do that.” Or variations on that theme.

Notice these when they crop up and move on. Not all thoughts are helpful or true.

As Stephen Covey famously instructed, begin with the end in mind. Picture yourself feeling tip-top physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally and ask yourself what conditions would allow that?

What would I be doing? Where would I be? What responsibilities would I have? What would my schedule look like? Who would be around me? What relationships would I have? What environment would I be in? What possessions would I have?

Keep asking yourself. Keep writing. As you keep going you will repeat yourself. Themes will emerge.

What you really desire will show up. Go back, and review what you have written. See what is there.

Ask yourself how does it feel?

Take Your Time

With all these exercises gift yourself the luxury of time to ponder and reflect.

Be patient.

Feel your way iteratively through the prompts.

Allow, don’t force.

This process is leading you to long-lasting benefits.

To keep your spirits up while you do it, remind yourself how capable and resourceful you are. I suspect you are surrounded by evidence of your ability to create and achieve what you set your mind to. Look around your environment and your life. What do you see? Places, people, things, jobs, experiences, achievements. Did you have a hand in bringing them into your world? Did it start with an idea? A picture in your mind's eye? Probably.

Did you know exactly how it would come about? Did you always have complete unshakable faith it would materialise? Probably not.

When going through the steps acknowledge other dreams you have brought into reality. You have skills strengths and knowledge to draw on when it’s time to act.

In my Brainz articles of 2022, I am guiding you through an empowering change process. You can read the previous article here.

I will be back next month with your next steps.

In the meantime, for bite-sized weekly servings of encouragement and guidance, plus a free self-evaluation to get you started, sign up here.

Sarah McNicol helps high achievers create more fulfilling aligned lives, businesses and careers fuelled by values, joy, inspiration, purpose, meaning and self-compassion.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more info!


Sarah McNicol, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Sarah McNicol is a facilitator, coach and innovative businesswoman. Her highly sensitive and versatile approach is under-pinned by 30 years of personal and professional development practise, working with thousands of individuals and teams in a wide variety of contexts.

Sarah provides guidance and challenge to help successful high-achievers unhook from the rat race. Re calibrate and tune into a more holistic, metaphysical paradigm to create more fulfilling aligned lives, businesses and careers fuelled by values, joy, inspiration, purpose, belief, meaning and self-compassion.



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