If I asked you privately, what does success and happiness mean to you, how would answer that? And how will you know when you get there? We may be so focused on our career or goals that we neglect to take a breath, enjoy life and focus on what’s really important.

In addition, the media tries to tell us what we have to do, what we have to buy and how we have to look to be considered successful. It’s the “bigger, better, and more” mentality. Between the busyness and the focus on merchandise, it’s no wonder we may get sidetracked from discovering what really matters in life. The key is to enjoy the journey while we’re racing toward our goals.

Assess Your Life Satisfaction

Before you can move forward in creating your dreams, let’s assess where you are now. The following Life Satisfaction Index (LSI) is included to help you identify what’s important. To prepare for the dream process, rate how satisfied you are with the following areas of your life on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very satisfied and 1 being poor. (Circle your selection)

Life Satisfaction Index

1. Work/Career (1 2 3 4 5)
2. Personal Relationships/Love (1 2 3 4 5)
3. Parent/Family Life (1 2 3 4 5)
4. Relaxation/Social Time (1 2 3 4 5)
5. Spiritual (1 2 3 4 5)
6. Physical Fitness/Health (1 2 3 4 5)
7. Financial (1 2 3 4 5)
8. Personal Growth/Education (1 2 3 4 5)
9. Service to Others (1 2 3 4 5)

Exercise: Areas for Improvement

At the top of a blank piece of paper, write the date and “Areas for Opportunity and Growth in My Life.” Now look at your Life Satisfaction Index and note the most important areas you wish to improve. These may not necessarily be items with the lowest score. Next to each one, also jot down what you “expect” to happen and an action step.

Define Success and Happiness

Also, take a moment to write out your definition of life success. To do this imagine your life is over. Looking back, what would you want others to say about you and what would you want to say about your own life. Begin with I was or I lived. For example, I was a loving and devoted husband/wife, a good father/mother, etc. This is a very powerful exercise and the end result is a statement that will guide you in making healthy life choices with no regrets.

Create Cappuccino Moments ™ -- Enjoy the Journey

The greatest regret of the terminally ill is, “I made a living, but I never really lived.”
- Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Are you making a living or living your life? To "live" your life implies action--movement--excitement. Unfortunately, today most of us have our calendars so full we have little time to enjoy all the courses in the feast of life. It's important that you value your precious time.

Take Free Days ™*

In today’s frenzied world it’s important that we rejuvenate ourselves. Yet so many of us don’t know how to truly enjoy a day off. We tend to multi-task and combine errands, cleaning and play time all in one day. The result is we rarely feel rested and end up starting our week on the wrong foot. According to Dan Sullivan, of The Strategic Coach, on a Free Day TM we engage in activities we find either relaxing or rejuvenating and do not combine it with any productive work or responsibilities of any kind. I must say this was difficult at first, but taking Free Days™ has improved the quality of my life tremendously, as I know it will for you.

Feed Yourself Food for the Soul With The Daily Joy Booster

My five-minute joy booster is a great way to start each day. Keep something uplifting or spiritual to read by your bedside. In the morning, do not get out of bed until you sit back, and fill yourself with positive words of success and encouragement. Ponder the words. Imagine your dreams. Say a short prayer asking for your day to be full of wonder, joy and guidance. Get your boost -- take five minutes every day to feed yourself food for the soul.

Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

It’s so much easier to enjoy life when we focus on what we do have rather than what we don’t’. Several years ago, I visited a friend who had finally finished building and decorating his dream home. While touring this spectacular home he sounded disappointed as he said, “I really wanted to have some crown molding but ran out of money and I couldn’t afford granite counter tops”. How sad he couldn’t appreciate what he had and was focused on what he didn’t have. Chances are you have a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in at night, a closet full of clothes and a variety of foods to eat. So you are rich –be grateful and adopt an attitude of gratitude.
Be Silly and Lighten Up

Are you silly at times? I hope so. When your favorite song comes on the radio in your car, are you able to sing along with gusto? One day driving along the I-5 in San Diego, I was worrying about a business appointment I was on my way to. All of a sudden one of my favorite songs came on the radio, "Respect", by Aretha Franklin. I got so excited, I started singing aloud and bobbing my head, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T". All of a sudden, a car pulled up on my left and the woman on the passenger side just stared at me in disbelief with her mouth gaping open. I thought, "party pooper" and just kept singing happily along, as if I was performing live with great animation.

Now a sleek BMW pulled up on my right, I looked over and realized the driver was singing along to the same song and enjoying it as much as I was. He gave me a quick thumbs up, nodded his head in approval, and drove off. I just started laughing out loud. Made my day. "Now what was I worrying about a minute ago?" My meeting was a little pimple on the journey of life. One song put it all in perspective. Now my motto is be silly and lighten up.

Dream Big! Expect the Best

Now comes the exciting part. You get to imagine your wildest dreams! Right now your dreams are sitting dormant waiting to be activated. Most people define a dream as “a fantasy event in my life never meant to occur.” My definition of a dream is “a future event in my life waiting to occur.” Imagine--a future event in your life waiting to occur.

I remember when I began to Dream Big. I began collecting pictures and words representing my dreams. Pictures of the Acropolis and the Greek Islands were included on my Dream Big Board as I dreamed of my honeymoon. At the time, I wasn't dating a soul with no one in sight. That didn’t stop me from dreaming big.

“Well, if I’m going to attract my life partner, I’d love to get married in the wine country.” Pictures of grape vines and vineyards went on my Dream Big Board with the words, The Wine Country. This was very hard, because I was so afraid of disappointment.

I was living in a little studio apartment in San Francisco and money was tight. In fact, I had $35 to $40 left in my checking account to last for two weeks after my bills were paid. Clipping out pictures of beautiful homes was fun and adding them to my board was exciting and scary. I thought, “One day I want to live in a house like that.”

One day I saw pictures of books in the Book of the Month Club mailing. I remember asking myself, “I wonder if I can be an author?” Imagine me as an author. No way, I don’t have the patience to sit down and write. But somewhere deep inside me I heard, “Yes, Barbara, you can do this--go ahead and dream.” So I clipped pictures of books and glued them on the board with a picture of me holding a book.

I remember looking at my board often and making it come alive. It was all so real, so wonderful and I still felt afraid. For five years nothing happened. I felt discouraged, but I never gave up hope and desire. Six years after I completed my Dream Big Board amazing things started to happen. Although I had a good job as a Regional Sales Manager with a major company, the entrepreneurial spirit came over me. I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a professional speaker.

After the first year in business, I had enough money to put a down payment on a lovely home--all by myself. Three months after I moved in my new home, guess whom I met? Bob, my loving, kind, supportive husband. He also loves the vineyards, so we got married at Meadowood Resort in St. Helena, California. Guess where we honeymooned? You got it--the Greek Islands for three weeks. I even got to use my frequent flyer mileage for the tickets to Athens!

Two years after I met Bob a wonderful woman, Dominique, ran up to me after a speech on customer service. She said, “Great ideas -- if you write them down, I'll publish it.” I explained I had no manuscript or book proposal and had never written a book before. She replied, “No problem, I’m a publisher. I'll send you a contract and you’ll have one year to write your book.” Five Star Service Solutions was published a year later.

I guess if I had to get out my message in one sentence, it’s simply this: Whatever you're dreaming--it’s not big enough! Think about that. It’s not big enough. So now what will you do? The choice is yours. You can say, “Nice message, but it won’t work for me.” Or you can make a decision and say, “I intend to create my future by dreaming big.”

Listen to your intuition, for it is your best friend. Ignore your fears for they are your enemy. Believe in your dreams for they are your future.
— Barbara Sanfilippo

Author's Bio: 

Barbara Sanfilippo is an award winning speaker, retreat facilitator, consultant, coach and author of Dream Big! What's The Best That Can Happen? Romano & Sanfilippo partners with business owners and organizations to create a high performing service and culture, retain loyal customers and energize employees. To inquire about speaking availability, order her book, sign up for her e-tips or to see Barbara's new demo video, visit www.Barbara-Sanfilippo.com.