By:  David Othus


A friend of mine came to me with a problem that we see all too often in life. She was getting up in years, had broken up from a long term relationship, had a career, but had no real direction in her life. She would go through her days, doing her usual things but started thinking what and why. Like many people, she relied on her significant other to give direction in her life, but without that other person, we feel lost. What is often more tragic is that when we look deeply at couples, often the only direction we find is simply to pay bills, get by and try to make things work as a couple. There is often nothing of significance or meaning to either person, much less the two as a couple.


I have given the following instructions to several people who have successfully used them to find their direction in life. With these, you can determine what really matters to you, and then turn your focus towards those accomplishing those things. It is, after all, what your ideal-self would do. When combined with the ideal-self, you create a powerful set of targeted goals and techniques for achieving them.


Focus and Direction


To gain the most out of life, it helps to have direction and focus. If you don’t know where you are going, you can end up just about anywhere. While this might be okay for an explorer, it is not necessarily the best way to live our lives. (And really, even an explorer has some idea of where he is going, even if it is simply, let’s see what is on the other side of that mountain.)  This section is intended to help you refine your direction so you can focus on what matters most in your life, and then to help you research, plan and implement the various things that are important to you, so that you can help attain the life you really want. You can think of it as a systematic method for making a New-Years resolution that is both meaningful and achievable. During the first week, you will want to set aside an hour or 2 each day.


As you complete this exercise, you will gain greater insights into yourself and help to refine your ideal-self, giving you better direction and clarity of self. This, in turn, will help to enhance your ideal-self and the insights you will receive on your path forward through life. I recommend repeating this process again, after a month or so, to make sure you are headed in the right direction, and then again every three months to accommodate for your changing interests and goals.


From my own personal experience, this process has helped me to do and achieve things I would have never considered before; as well as, things that were simply sitting in the back of my mind that would have stayed there gathering dust. For me, it has been instrumental in guiding my life to greater fulfillment, joy and personal achievement.


Step 1. Happiness & Travel

We all have things that make us happy and sad in life. When planning for a better future, we want to pay particular attention to those things that make us happy rather than the things that make us unhappy.

Think through your life and take note of the things that have made you happy, and things that make you happy. As yourself, what makes you happy and why.

Try to refine things down to the essence of what makes you happy, so it will include similar types of things.

For instance, let’s say you went hiking in mountains and that made you happy. Another time, you took a road trip that made you happy. Was it being surrounded by nature that made you happy or was it seeing and experiencing new places that made you happy?  It may possibly be both of these.

If the essence of what you enjoy is seeing new places, you might enjoy exploring other places like a city in another country. In this case, put down, seeing new places or having new experiences. If you enjoy being surrounded by nature, you might enjoy renting a cabin in the mountains for a week and exploring the surrounding country side. It may be that both traveling and seeing new places, as well as being surrounded by nature, that is the essence of what makes you happy.

Again, try for the essence of the ideas that make you happy with maybe a few examples to help explain what you mean. Then, create a list of what you need to be happy in life.

Getting out and visiting different places creates a healthier life style for people. Studies show that taking a vacation can reduce heart attacks by 50%, reduce overall stress and increase overall health and wellbeing. Whether you choose a place that is close by or in a distant land, people who travel are healthier and happier than people who stay tied to the daily grind.

As you make your list of things that make you happy, ask yourself, where would you like to go?  What wonderful places can you visit that would add joy to your life?  Then, make a list of places you would like to visit. Be sure to include places that are both far away and close to home. I have found that most people have never visited many of the places in their own community or region. When you think of places you would like to visit, be sure to check out what is local to where you live in addition to those far flung adventures you dream of.


Step 2. Importance

There are things we need to do in our lives that have various degrees of importance, whether that is saving money for retirement, or helping our kids grow up to become well-adjusted and responsible adults. Some of these things we enjoy and they make us happy, like spending time with our children and loved ones; while others need to be done, whether we want to do them or not, like doing the dishes and taking out the trash.

Take time to think through all those things in your life that need to get done on a regular basis. Are they important?  What would happen if you didn’t do them?  Are there things you have been putting off that are important and need to get done?  Often these are not fun but should get done as soon as possible, like setting up a retirement fund or going to the doctor for your annual physical.

Make a list of all those things that are important for you to get done, including those things that you have been putting off, and those things that may be too late but should have been done. Don’t bother to prioritize the items right now, just get them all down on paper.

Step 3. Attributes

One of the things we often overlook in our planning is the attributes we would like to have. While we all want to be smarter, healthier and stronger, we often overlook things like, happier, compassionate, loving, kinder or more confident. Additionally, we rarely, if ever, look at the mounting research and new techniques that are increasingly available to us; and take steps to improve these attributes.

Interestingly enough, there are a great variety of resources to help us improve nearly every personal attribute you can think of. There are books, CDs, vitamins & medications both natural and pharmaceutical, trainers and other resources that can help achieve the personal changes you want. These things can help you increase such things as: self-confidence, your ability to remember things, your overall general knowledge of the world around you and how things work. They can also reduce things we want to minimize like: social anxiety, weight and depression. For example, if your goal is to increase your overall health, you can also talk to your doctor to see what recommendations he or she may have for you.  He or she may recommend a personal trainer who can help with endurance and strength training and a dietitian to help you fix your diet.  There are even books and classes to teach you how to better understand and relate to other people.

The point is, if there is a personal attribute you would like to improve, there is very likely a way to improve it. You just need to do a little research and make the commitment to do it.

After you have taken the time to take stock of where you are and and were you want to be, make a list of the personal attributes that you would like to improve. Maybe these are attributes you admire in others and would like to have as well. Maybe they are things that you would like to help create a new and improved you. Either way, make a list of these attributes.


Step 4. Integration

Go over your list of what you need to be happy. Look at each item and ask, “Does this really matter?”  “How does it fit in to what I feel is important in my life?”  Perhaps there are things that are important to you, that are not obvious, that you should add to your list of important things. Perhaps, there are things that make you happy that are missing. In general, things that make you happy have some degree of importance. Then, look at the list of personal attributes you want to improve. Many, if not most, of the items on your lists of things to do will have items that will correlate to improving a personal attribute. To gain maximum effect, schedule events that you want to accomplish that correlate with specific attributes you want to improve. This will help you to improve your personal attributes in a more meaningful way. For example, let’s say you want to improve your self-confidence. You have found a couple books to work through as well as some great affirmation audios to help. Let’s say you also have skydiving in your list of things you want to do. To maximize the effectiveness of your work to increase your self-confidence, schedule your skydiving adventure during the same period of time you are working on your self-confidence. The two things will build on each other taking you to another level of self-confidence and adding additional meaning to both.

Often, if you look at them in the right way, the thing that is truly important will appear. For instance, let’s say helping your niece learn to ride her bike made you happy. It could be that spending time with your niece makes you happy, spending time with children of her age makes you happy, or it could be you enjoy the process of teaching something of value to people. Perhaps there are things that are important to you, even though they don’t make you happy. Refine your lists of:

  • What is important to you
  • What makes you happy.


Step 5. Final Lists

We now want to take all of the work you have done above and create a final set of lists which you will used to help guide your life and what you will accomplish. Create three “bucket” lists:

  1. Things you want to do or accomplish.
  2. Places you want to visit.
  3. Personal attribute you want to have or refine.


Step 6. Prioritizing

Go over your list and start prioritizing what you have written down.  Put the most important item that you want to achieve on each list as a 1 and work your way down from there.  Each list should have its own set of priorities.  Sometimes you will be working off one list, sometimes too, and occasionally you will work off of all 3 lists at the same time depending on how things line up.


Step 7. Planning and Combining for Effectiveness

It is not time to start implementing your plan.  Research your top priority 1 items and start creating a plan on how you want to implement it.  Research is important because it gives you a good baseline of knowledge and helps you to create a good plan.  Please not, I did not state that you were going to create the best plan, just a good one.  There are many reasons for this:

  • If you try to create the best plan, you will spend too much time doing research and not enough time doing stuff.  The purpose of a plan is to get you headed in the right direction to take action.
  • Plans can change.  If you are implementing this plan with certainty of belief and positive action, you will attract things into your life that will help you achieve your goals with greater ease and / or impact.  Because of this, you need to implement your plans with flexibility.

As you are creating your plan, over your lists and start looking for areas that you can combine to help increase the overall effectiveness.  Sometimes you will be able to combine things easily and other times you will not.  Be sure not to overdo it.  You don’t want a single event to be so enormous that it becomes overwhelming.  You want to look for easy wins, and great matches.

For instance, a year or two I wanted to increase my self-confidence.  There are a lot of things you can do to increase self-confidence, such as read books, listen affirmation CD activities and making sure you are setup in a positive environment.  One of the things I have always wanted to do was to go skydiving.  One of the great things about sky diving is that it helps you get over mental blocks, and increases a person’s self-confidence by several factors.  So during the part of the year when I was working on my self-confidence, I went sky diving to help cement that into my psyche and make the entire process more tangible.  Look through your lists and see if there are things you can combine to help increase the effectiveness and impact of what you are trying to achieve.


Step 8. Scheduling

There is a lot of power to having things scheduled.  If you have something written down on a calendar, your subconscious mind works harder to make it happen, and the universe will help by throwing help at you.  This doesn’t mean that things won’t happen to throw off a schedule, or even help you out by making things happen sooner.  But by putting things down on a schedule, it helps you to better achieve what you want and desire out of life.

To make a proper schedule, look at your plan and pull out specific tasks that can be done on or by a given date and then put those things down on your calendar.  I always make sure to have an action oriented schedule.  If I need to do something, I put down when it is I want to do that thing.

For instance, when I wanted to go to Bermuda, I didn’t want to have to hurry and get things ready at the last minute.  I scheduled out task like: getting luggage, getting suitable clothing, researching places I wanted to visit, researching and scheduling a ride to the airport and so on.  When it came time, I had an amazing and very stress free vacation in a place I had only imagined!

When you schedule things out, schedule out the specific tasks you need to accomplish as well as the end date for achieving your goal.


Step 9. Implementing and Refining

This last step is about taking the actions you need to take to achieve your goal.  It is also about refining your schedule and your plan.

As you start taking actions, keep your mind and soul open to the multitude of opportunities that exist all around you!  God and the universe are out there helping you to achieve your goals, but often in ways you didn’t anticipate.  This means that sometimes you need to go back to your plan and your schedule and make changes.  This is normal and best way to implement a plan.  It is also why I said make a good plan and not a perfect plan.

Sometimes things will come along that will seem like a block.  Understand that these things are not really blocks to implementing your plan, but are simply opportunities to implement a better plan so that you can do and achieve more with what is being given to you.

A friend of mine wanted to go to the Bahamas and scheduled a trip there, but before he could actually go, several people found new jobs and he was forced to reschedule his planned vacation.  He was lucky he did because the week he was originally scheduled to go, Nassau was hit by a very bad storm, and he would have been stuck inside his hotel being miserable for several days.  Instead his vacation had been pushed out 2 months and because the tourist season was winding down he found that places were cheaper and the people there had more time to be accommodating.  What had seemed like a tragedy ended up being a blessing in disguise.

Remember, that God and the universe are out there to help you.  Problems are rarely problems but rather opportunities to help you achieve your goals is a better way.


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