What is true happiness? For most people, it's pretty simple -- find a soulmate and a dream job. Easier said than done, of course. So why does this seem so rare and hard to attain?
We're spoiled by romantic comedies. We've all seen this play before -- once the couple gets together, they ride off into the sunset and we just assume they live happily ever after. But the possibility of divorce is a stark reality, and even more unsettling is the estimate that only about 17 percent of married couples are happy.
We're in the same boat when it comes to jobs. According to Gallup, only 30 percent of Americans are engaged in their work -- meaning seven of 10 people you meet aren't actively excited about their jobs.
So what gives? What's the secret? Actually, I've found that there isn't one -- the solution for both has a lot more to do with how well you know yourself and your ability to take responsibility for your actions. Both finding love and finding your dream job require you to know yourself, be confident, and learn to create your own aliveness and opportunities.
With that in mind, here are 10 actions that, if taken, will put you well on your way to achieving what so many others have not.
1. Know how to make yourself happy.
Career: You have to learn that happiness comes from enjoying the process of your work, not just achieving goals. If the only enjoyment you derive from your work is associated with accomplishment, you are missing out on the fulfillment that comes from loving the process it takes to achieve your goals in addition to achieving them.
Love: If you are with someone because he or she makes you happy and you have not learned how to make yourself happy first, then you are in trouble. Contrary to what the movies tell us, it's your own responsibility to make yourself happy. Nobody can do that for you accept yourself. Only after you know how to do this can you begin to experience true love.
2. Be clear on your vision and your deal-breakers.
Career: You need a vision for your career -- not a plan, but a big vision that help guides you through the multitude of decisions that are a daily part of managing a career. Your vision helps identify the opportunities that are deal-breakers or deal-makers.
Love: The same applies with love. Having a vision for your life as you are navigating potential matches can help you identify deal-breakers -- or a life partner -- early on. Without your own vision, you risk taking on someone else's in the early stages of romance, and then once that wears off, discovering that you want different things in life. A true soulmate shares a vision that was clear before you met.
3. Learn to accept others for who they are rather than change them -- which means you may have to leave.
Career: When it comes to accessing a job, business, or career opportunity, see it for what it is and if it's not a good fit, move on. If you're looking for a dream job, be realistic about the match. We are living in a time when new jobs are getting invented based on on-going market opportunities. There are more jobs of greater variety in business cultures and norms. Find the one that is best for you.
Love: This is one of the most important aspects of love that is often not discussed. You need to be able to accept someone for everything he or she does and does not bring to the table. If you find yourself thinking you want to change some things about a potential mate, you should reconsider committing to that person. Ultimate acceptance of another is the cornerstone of healthy love, and without that, you miss out on the real joy of giving and receiving that from another. That is true love.
4. Know the difference between a bad fit and your psychological baggage.
Career: Are you getting angry and frustrated or feeling anxious or a lack of confidence more frequently that you wish to admit? What is the reason? Get clear if it's the work or the people around you. It could be that your colleagues are tapping into your psychological baggage without your being aware. Often your past will show up at work in small, sometimes very subtle ways. If this is the case, get some support in identifying these performance barriers, which could be holding you back from the success and joy you desire.
Love: Bad fit means you need to change something core to who you are to be together with another person. Baggage is when you may have moments of increased anxiety from behaviors that seem illogical. Those are signs of baggage. Get a coach to help you identify these in yourself. Understanding this about yourself is essential for experiencing true love.
5. Don't let fear be a driving factor in your decision-making.
Career: Get confident, secure, and in a good place before making any big business decision. If you let fear drive decisions, then you are missing out on gut decisions.
Love: Fear will drive you to say, do, and be someone you are not. In a relationship, that can create wedges and drama. Learning how to manage your fear is another must for real love.
6. Be a good communicator.
Career: Communicating openly with your team, colleagues, clients, and others is essential in making sure everyone understands what's really happening. It's a business no-brainer. Make sure your communication style syncs with those around you.
Love: A relationship is nonexistent without communication. If you aren't communicating, then you're not bringing your full self to the table and you are leaving a lot of room for innocent misunderstandings.
7. Don't make big decisions when you are feeling triggered, frustrated, or "off."
Career: Make sure you prioritize your health and strategize your energy for pivotal moments in your career.
Love: As easy as it is to vent your real frustrations or truth when you experience them in extreme, it's best to address issues when you are calm and feeling your best self.
8. Don't strive for perfection -- it doesn't exist.
Career: There is no perfect business or perfect outcome. Don't compare yourself with others and just focus on being the best you can be.
Love: Contrary to what Facebook or Instagram would make us think, there is no perfect relationship. Trust that nobody else is having the relationship you are having. Nobody else is you and nobody else is your partner. Every relationship is unique, so keep that mind when looking for others to weigh in on what may be happening.
9. Don't lie to others or yourself -- be courageous with the truth.
Career: Be clear about what your own genius is and what your vision is. Be yourself and stay connected to that. The more you avoid being someone you aren't, the more likely you will avoid your dream job.
Love: The best relationships are based on trust. If you lie, or you are not honest with yourself in a relationship, you won't be in a relationship for long.
10. Don't settle.
Career: Having a dream job is a strategic challenge, not a pipe dream for few. Believe it every day and you will get what you want.
Love: Having a healthy, extraordinary relationship is something anyone can have -- you just have to do the work yourself to get there.