Passion, Courage and Support

The three words from the title are quite important when it comes to happiness and success. To illustrate this, I will briefly tell the story of an 18-year old young man from France. Romain – that is his name – has had a passion for hospitality for years. When he turned 16, he decided to leave the mainstream high school system and start an apprenticeship to become a professional waiter with an eye to become a sommelier later on.

Passion is a powerful driver. It gives the ability to engage and pursue towards the objective regardless of difficulties and setbacks. It provides an almost indestructible optimism and perseverance. With regards to success, passion certainly contributes greatly to achieve what others might consider difficult or risky. Passion gives a confidence and a desire that shows others that success is possible. This is exactly what Romain has demonstrated over the past two years. His passion and motivation have helped him dare something different and so far he has achieved amazing results. Next to passion, he also has enough courage to dare into new challenges and see what he is worth.

Romain during the competitionHe decided to get out of his comfort zone and to participate in a couple of professional contests. Romain lives not too far away from Lyon and Burgundy. These regions have strong culinary traditions. Some of the greatest French chefs and restaurants are located in the Lyon area. For instance, Paul Bocuse or the Troisgros brothers made their marks from this part of France and achieved worldwide fame. Just one year in apprenticeship, he enlisted to compete in a regional hospitality contest. There were 286 candidates nationwide. He finished second. This opened him the possibility to test himself in the national contest, in which only the top 28 from the regional events were competing. He finished 17th while facing candidates with many more years of practice and experience, and quite a few twice his age. As the professional jury and observers know how to look beyond just the ranking at the event, they are able to spot potential. And Romain has plenty of it, just as well as he has the courage to put himself on the line. This serves him well because after his participation at the national level contest, he got approached by a high-end restaurant owner who wishes to keep in touch with him for later, as he would like to hire him. As another positive consequence of the contest, Romain has been awarded a 2-week training in a high-end restaurant of Parma, Italy, a culinary centre if there is one. There is no need to explain the feeling of pride and achievement for the young man. He dared to risk a disappointment and reaped the promise of an exciting career. Romain is not a mutant. He is pretty much what you could call the boy next door. He is just like most teenagers, a bit shy and still in the process of finding himself. The only difference with others may just be that he overcomes the little knot in the stomach and the clammy hand palms and takes a chance. After all, he had nothing to lose at this stage of his professional development. To succeed, and he does, it just takes a bit of courage to show courage. Of course, such a positive attitude is well-served when your direct environment is there to give the needed support.

The first level of support came from his family. We all hear about stories of people who had dreams and passions that got talked down by those around them. Arguments like “it is not for you” or “that is not a real job” or “in this family, we do not do that kind of work” are not uncommon. We all have heard such stories from successful artists who were stubborn enough to ignore and disobey in order to succeed. Opposite to that, how many people have ended up in jobs they dislike, simply because of pressure from relatives or teachers? Probably more than we think. At least, Romain’s family looked at his future happiness, bought in for his passion and did everything that was possible to find him a good school, a good apprenticeship restaurant and to make him feel that they believed in him and in his future in the professional choice he made. More support came from his teachers who understood his passion and noticed his talent for the hospitality business. That, too, gives a welcome boost to achieve success. And of course, Romain gets full support from his employers at the restaurant where he works as an apprentice. Quite early in his job, they realized his potential and on a busy day with a shortage of staff, they asked him to take charge of the gastronomic restaurant room. He executed his task with baffling effectiveness and professionalism. Romain delivers, and the restaurant patrons appreciate this young lad who shows so much maturity at serving them. It serves Romain quite well, too, as he regularly receives generous tips for his impeccable service. It serves him well with regards with his employers, as he gets even more support back in return for his good work.

So, there you have it! The right mix of passion, courage and support working together to help achieving success, fulfillment and the promise of a happy future for those who have it.

Note: One more detail about Romain: he is my nephew. Like the rest of the family, I am really impressed at what he is achieving. He would love to have an assignment abroad, ideally in New York City. Hopefully, this article will bring him some new opportunities.

Copyright 2014 – Christophe Pelletier/The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

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What the Life Plan did for me

In other parts of this website, I explained that I have developed the Life Plan simply because I did not find anything that I found usable to assess the quality of my life and where I should head from where I was. It may sound surprising considering the amount of books, methods and systems available, but it just is the way it was. I developed the Life Plan in 2005 for myself and it has delivered much good to me. Sometimes, I am asked to be more specific about what the results have been for me. As I am a private person, I do not like to disclose much. However, I think it is probably good that I give some details about what changed for me since I carried out my own assessment with my method. Thus, you can judge for yourselves. I will not go in too many details, but it should give you enough of a flavor of what to expect from the Life Plan. Here it goes.

The first time I used the Life Plan, two things came out clearly.

Firstly, the direction of my own company was not delivering me enough satisfaction, and I had to rethink what business I wanted to be in. I reflected about it and gave myself time to think thoroughly about what I was passionate about. Focusing on general business management consulting was not all that exciting for me after all. After further reflection, I identified several areas. One was the desire to make people happy, to have fulfilled lives at home as well as at work. Another one was to focus about the future and in particular how our world might look like and how to foresee things to come in order to build a prosperous future. This has resulted in reshaping my company around two main activities. One is the one featured in this website, Objective Happiness, which provides services to individuals and business to enhance happiness and fulfillment to help people set goals that will provide them and their direct environment with increased satisfaction. The other one is The Food Futurist, my other venture, which focuses on foreseeing coming changes in the sector of food and farming, and to help customers develop successful strategies that will meet future needs in these sectors. I have to say that I enjoy these two ventures very much. They are my livelihood. To that extent the conclusions of the Life Plan and the choices I made from them have delivered me quite a bit of satisfaction.

Secondly, the Life Plan showed me that I had a need for an improved personal life. Although, like many people, I did not feel unhappy at all, something was missing, but without the analytical and objective steps that the Life Plan provided me, I simply could not self-analyze myself with enough distance. Not schizophrenic enough, I suppose. Anyway, and joke aside, the result of the assessment made one thing clear. After so many years of being happily single, it appeared I had the need to share my life with someone. I develop my “action plan” and started meeting more people. In 2006, I met an interesting lady, and after seven years of living together, we got married last April. We are both very happy with our life together and, although to some seven years may sound like an eternity to decide to get married, I see the final decision mostly as the natural evolution of something that we both truly believe will last until death do us part. Just like with the Life Plan, decisions are not the result of emotions, pressure of impulse, but they are the rational evolution of what makes the most sense and about which we both feel happy.

Beyond these two major changes, there have been a number of minor ones, but the above makes the main point about how useful my method has been for me.

Since the past summer, we have started a new assessment of our lives with the Life Plan and a number of things that will make us happier have already appeared. It is still work in progress, as it takes times to reflect on the conclusions and to develop the action plan. We have already made a number of decisions that will be carried out in the next couple of years and that will lead us to improve our lives further. Here is another important element of a successful transition: it takes time. There is no reason to throw your life over board to become happier. Just work on a manageable transition. The result will be much better for you.

There you have it: two major areas of my life have changed for the (much) better thanks to my Life Plan. Would I have achieved the same without the Life Plan? Not a chance! And none of the other method I had looked at had taken me anywhere close to that result, either. The Life Plan worked for me. And it will for you, too, if you go through the whole exercise.

Ten Signs of a Happy Person

Just hap-pyHappy people are easy to spot. In no particular order of course, you will notice the following about happy people:

  • They are in good health
  • They smile, laugh often, and look at others in the eyes when talking to them
  • They are assertive, and not aggressive
  • They do not show signs of envy or criticize others; they have a positive attitude
  • They are loved and make other people happy
  • They have no addiction, because they just do not need any
  • They like what they do, personally as well as professionally, and they like who they are
  • They are themselves, and they accept others the way they are.
  • They are not selfish or self-centered
  • Problems do not seem to stick to them; they just deal with them.

It sounds simple, doesn’t it? Yet, how many people do you know meet the above?

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.

Just Be Yourself!

Being oneself a prerequisite for those who want to grow and be happy in life, personally as well as professionally. Although it would sound like an easy thing to achieve, too many people seem to have difficulties getting there. Many internal and external reasons can explain that, but it is always possible to change for the best.

Why is being oneself so important?

Quite obviously, if you are not yourself, then who are you? The question alone makes clear that it will difficult to know who you are. If you think you are some of your role model, realize that he/she probably was him/herself, and that is why they got in that position of role model. Moreover, if you are playing being someone else, you will miss the opportunity to genuinely improve yourself and achieve higher fulfillment in life.

How can you be yourself?

This can take more or less time to find out, but it is possible and not that complicated. It depends on you. All you need is to have people you trust giving you candid feedback. You have to understand that even the most popular people are not perfect. They have their insecurities as well. An easy way of discovering yourself it to find what you like most and what you like less in less. Capitalize on your assets and limit your liabilities! Accept your limitations and enjoy your talents! After all, no one is talented in everything. All you need to be happier is to do what you do best and like doing it. To find out who you are and to be yourself, you are just going to need to determine how much will, dare, capability and knowledge you have.

Deal with other people’s judgment!

Unfortunately, everyone has an opinion about other people. Most of the time, the judgment is based on very partial information. Most disputes are the result of a lack of communication, of not knowing each other well

It is impossible to please everyone. Whatever you may do and whoever you maybe, there always will be someone out there to criticize you. That is human nature. The only feedback that counts is the one from people who really know you well, and that you trust enough to give you their opinion. Asking these trusted people for feedback is not a test. It is not about passing or failing, but it is about self-knowledge and possibilities of improvement. True friends will not turn you down. They will be candid, and they will do their best to avoid hurting your feelings. Be assured that they will tell you how to improve your life.

Also realize that it is better to get some bad feedback on whom you really are than on whom you trying to be, because in that case, the information is useful for you. If you find difficult to accept yourself, you need to consider two things. First, you are not the only person who feels that way. A surprising large of majority of people tends to underestimate themselves. Secondly, most people have much more potential than they think. All they need is to take more chances. You need to show the world what you can!

Finally, always make sure that you are the one deciding for yourself. Peer pressure as well as your social environment, not even to mention marketing campaigns and the media, have a very powerful impact on how many people think they should be. It is not to them to decide about that. Dare to challenge them! Also, realize that people who are themselves always attract compatible people, thus making their lives more interesting and more fulfilling.

The Meaning of Life

Some topics have the ability to keep people busy for a while. The meaning of life is one of these topics because the answer is difficult to find and it never can be verified with certainty. Depending on whether the person pondering about it is a scientist, a theologian, a philosopher or a sports fan, the way they will answer this question will vary quite substantially.

This is why this question remains mostly an intellectual exercise. It can be satisfying, but it lacks practicality. Instead of tormenting oneself with the absolute answer that no one can find, simply because there may not be such an absolute answer, it is better to deal with this topic in a much more stimulating and practical way. All that is needed is to change slightly the question, from “What is the meaning of life?” to “What meaning do I want to give to my life?”. This simple shift of scope can do wonders, and quite rightly so. It now offers you the possibility to become your own Creator, thus shifting the scope of another difficult quest for absolute truth that has kept humanity busy for eons.

There are a few simple steps and simple things can help you creating a very meaningful life.

Firstly, you need to identify which values are truly important to you. Then you need to identify what makes you feel alive.

Instead of letting your environment make the decisions that will shape your life, your life will become easier to manage once you take charge and keep the initiative. Of course, nothing comes easily, and when you meet resistance, you must persevere.

Usually, people tend to focus more on negative events than on the positive ones. It may be a natural reaction, but it is the wrong approach. It is just as easy to spot the positives, but it requires a different mindset. Whatever may happen, force yourself to see the positive signs and remaining enthusiastic.

Nothing is carved in stone. Life is in continuous evolution. If you want to improve your life, you must take any opportunity you find to learn and improve. It will take you out of your comfort zone, but you quickly will reap the rewards and realize the advantage of doing so. Do not be afraid of setbacks. They are part of life anyway. Just see them as an opportunity to beat adversity and explore your real abilities. Most people always tend to underestimate themselves. Usually, they are capable of much more than they think they do. They just need to discover their true potential.

Making decisions is the easiest and fastest way to overcome problems and to keep moving on. Most people feel stuck because they do not make any decision. This is the worst one can do. There cannot be any action and progress by keeping the status quo. Once you decide on something, things happen. Then of course, you need to keep making decision and adapt. One decision does not solve everything at once.

Giving a meaning to your life is all about pursuing fulfillment and finding gratification in your activities, as much in your personal life as well as in your professional life. However, you must build your life for yourself first, because all that counts is that your life means something to you.

The worst thing that can happen to a person is to have a meaningless life. That can happen only by waiting and not taking action. So, live, experience, try and share!

Are You Living Your Dreams?

Dreaming your lifeFrom early childhood, we all have had our ideas and dreams about how life would be later. You know, “when I grow up, I want to…”

Yet, later in life, many people seem to have forgotten about these dreams or, worse, they have given up on them. This is sad, because there are not many things that can energize and motivate someone as the pursuit of something very dear: to be the person he/she always wanted to be.

The role of parents is quite important in the future development of individuals. Having supportive and open-minded parents who encourage their children to pursue what they really want to do, is indeed good and important. Their giving support shows the children that what they aim at is worth it. Consciously going after something meaningful is one of the most motivating things there is.

This way of parenting allows children to be aware of their personality and of their possibilities at a young age. It makes it easier for the children to decide how their lives life would be like. Knowing what one wants always helps the person to keep the course. It is a source of much satisfaction to have the privilege of living one’s childhood’s dreams. However, dreaming is not just for children. Dreaming is a work in progress. It is nice to pursue one’s childhood’s dreams, but sometimes, circumstances change or the dreams do not appear to be as realistic or sensible, as they seemed first. It is easy then to forget about them. That is not really a problem as long as you keep the ability to keep envisioning who you want to be. With age comes more experience, more self-awareness and this is why it is never too late to think and dream of what and who to be later. This process has nothing to do with a mid-life crisis. That is something else. It is not about dreaming about the future; it is the mourning of the past.

Those who have been lucky to live most of their youth’s dreams will tell you how they feed. They are happy and fulfilled people who want to make it possible for others to experience the same.

Who you want to be is the mix of what you love to do, what you do best, what your values are, where and with whom you want to make this happen. The worst thing a person can do to her/himself is to not try at all, and to regret it for the rest of his/her life.

The question that you must ask yourself is: “Are you living your dreams?” If not, what happened then? More importantly, what are you going to do about it? Can you think of better objectives today, thanks to a better knowledge of yourself? What is keeping you from trying, and how can you overcome such hurdles? It is only by trying repeatedly that one succeeds.

Copyright 2009 – The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd

The Life Plan will help you increase personal fulfillment

Your level of happiness or fulfillment is generally a direct consequence of how much you live your life and live in an environment that matches your values.

The Happy Future Group developed a Life Plan program to help you identify how balanced your life and your values are, and from there we help you build your own specific action list.

The process is simple. To identify your values, you will confront your own findings with some of your friends’ assessment of what truly drives you. Involving trusted friends to participate makes this process more fun and more rewarding. It also avoids this search to feel like a questioning, and at the same time, it will give you a much more objective feedback. After all, every person is who they really are, but also whom they show and who others think they are. By reducing the discrepancy between these three apparently different persons, your level of happiness will naturally increase.

By assessing how much fulfillment the different parts of your life match your core values, you will get your own “fulfillment index”. From that index and its analysis, it will become rather easy and obvious what actions you will need to take to increase your level of fulfillment.

The philosophy of the action list is all about incremental improvement. Consider your current life as being the ground zero. Each action when completed will help you live more to your values, and therefore you will achieve progress one step at a time. The timelines are the ones you feel comfortable with. All you need is to fully commit to the process. Should you “soften” a bit, we will help you remember what you promised yourself to achieve.

All you need to complete this process to success is to have the willingness to make it work, to be yourself and to spend the necessary time and energy.

To be happy, you do not need to go up the mountain to find yourself. It is all here and now, inside and around you!

Copyright 2009 The Happy Future Group Consulting Ltd.