What do you want?

That is the widest, open-ist question I ask as a coach, and I ask it a lot.

Whenever I hear someone complaining about how their job, life or career is going, that’s my cue, because it means they’ve lost sight of the answers to that question.

For example, if what you want is to feel stimulated by your work there’s a solution to that. It could be changing livelihoods, or it could be because you need to work differently. 

Both could be true at once. 

But let’s dig a little deeper. Why might you want to feel stimulated by your work? 

Here’s a  hint: People seek professional help when they’re unhappy. 

So then, if you want to feel more stimulated at work, chances are, you aren’t experiencing happiness while doing it.

We don’t arrive and stay in happiness. Rather, we identify the following feelings as happy or unhappy:

  • Happiness: presence, vitality, clarity, joy, humor, passion, flow, active interest and engagement
  • Unhappiness: anger, fear, confusion, doubt, bitterness, guilt, shame….

If what we experience most of the time at our given vocation (regardless of what that is) are unhappy feelings, we are unhappy. And vice versa.

When I work with people, the first thing I do is help them get happy more consistently. They may not know it at first, but that’s the real reason they’ve hired me.

One very practical modality I use in my practice is Positive Intelligence. This modality measures happiness in terms of positivity or “PQ” (as in IQ). If we’re not raising our PQ, nothing else much matters.

Once we have embarked on strengthening our “PQ muscles” as Shirzad Chamin, founder of Positive Intelligence calls them, my clients and I are equipped to go for the Big Change like a new or re-energized career. 

We start with the work on happiness because frankly, if you don’t know how to be relatively happy wherever you are and whatever you’re doing right now, I can guarantee you’ll be disappointed once you’ve finally ‘arrived’ at your identified “promised land”. 


Because the shit that is making you unhappy right now is not your current circumstances. That which “makes” us unhappy never, ever stops. The good news is that even though “it’s always something”, none of that “something” has the innate power to make us chronically unhappy.


Because we alone have the power to make ourselves happy (or unhappy). And happily (or unhappily), wherever we go, there we are.

We all want stuff. But ultimately, it’s for one purpose only: to be happy. Our attempts at ‘stuff’ become overly precious when we think that the things we accomplish hold the keys to our happiness. 

They never do.

That said, please understand that I am not telling you to wait to get happy before starting anything. 

Whatever it is you want to do (or have) in life is actually the very vehicle you need to embark upon in the interest of become happier. It’s your training partner. So please don’t feel you have to wait. Book that trip or start writing that book.

To summarize thus far:

  • We all want to be happy.
  • Stuff isn’t the answer. It just gives us a path to practice happiness on.

This is great news, because now we can start to play with getting the “stuff” we want instead of struggling to get it because we think it’s some holy grail. 

So first things first: Get happy. And I don’t mean like that stupid Nike slogan. To get happy takes work. Learn to meditate, hire a coach or a shrink. If you can, do both! Get intrigued with yourself, your feelings, and your outcomes…but like an anthropologist, not a prosecutor. The fruits of this type of labor don’t show themselves until you stop judging yourself on how it’s going.

Don’t believe anyone who says doing the work of coaching or therapy is self-absorbed, selfish or avoidant. It’s the opposite. It is the most important investment you can make, because it’s incumbent on you to get out of your own way by being happy so that you can be of use in this world.  

So get happy. Have some fun. 

For all of us.