This post is the fifth in a series of posts on the 12 Transition Points, a Circle of Impact tool.

One of the Circle of Impact principles is that the greatest change we go through is in our self-understanding. The transitional moment often comes because we are unhappy.

I have known many unhappy people, and far fewer truly happy ones. Unhappiness is a breeding ground for cynicism, jealousy and self-doubt. In many respects, because we feel the modern world promised us a life of happiness, it is a bitter pill to swallow when it doesn’t happen. Expecting happiness that never arrives often leads to a narrowing of our perspective, and a search for a person or institution to blame.

These may be strong words. However, if we step back and observe the behavior and attitudes of people on social media, we’ll see that people simultaneously want happiness yet believe it is something external to their life. You see, when we are unhappy, it is a signal that we are at a transition point. A change is then required to enable us to find a source of happiness.

If we look back in time, as far back as the ancient Greeks, we find that our modern understanding of happiness is missing from their understanding. Instead they speak of a fulfilled or complete life as a happy life.

Happiness is less a goal for our lives, and more a measure of how we live them.  When we think with clarity and vision, act in a manner consistent with our guiding values, and embrace change as an opportunity for personal growth, we’ve set in motion the conditions that lead to happiness.

From this perspective, happiness is the product of knowing who we are, and living a life focused on creating impact that makes a difference that matters.

I spend a lot of time with early stage entrepreneurs who are busy bringing their original ideas to the marketplace. As one of these entrepreneurs, I attest that it is incredibly difficult work. We face overwhelming obstacles along our path. We must deal with our own limitations which create problems to overcome. None of us would claim that our goal is to be happy. We desire happiness, however, we recognize that happiness is baked in the process of creating and doing.

One of my friends for whom I have the highest respect, in the short time that I’ve known him, has moved from one entrepreneurial venture to another. There have been successes and setbacks. The transitional nature of the marketplace has filled his life with stress and challenges. Yet, every day he gets up and gives of himself to create a set of products that will make a difference to the people that buy them. His happiness is not in the results, but in the work itself. Success is the reward for the work that brings him happiness.

I understand this experience from the publication of my book, Circle of Impact: Taking Personal Initiative to Ignite Change. When the book was released after three years of development, I was surprised that its release alone did not make me happy. It was one step in a long process. The real source of happiness after the publication, was the appreciation from the people who were reading it. The book’s impact on people’s lives makes me happy because it’s the recognition that all the hard work was worthwhile. Knowing it’s going to make a difference in the future, and that I get to share that with people…for me, there really is nothing better.

If you are at an unhappy point in your life or work, the transition point that you can accept is to take responsibility for your own happiness. No one else can make you happy. It can only come from your inner being and your own discipline to live a life of impact. One that fulfills your own desire for a meaningful life.

Unfortunately, this is far harder than it should be. One reason is that so much of our lives are oriented towards people-pleasing or conforming to other’s expectations of us. It may be your spouse or your employer, or it could be your social media connections. We live in a world where other people’s narratives for our lives are thrust upon us every day. Out of this reality, we find that we can never please people, and if that is important to us, then frustration and fear will grow.

The key to living a happy life is found in the following principles:

  1. Be clear about your values. Your values inform how you choose to live. The impact that you desire should be the ultimate outcome of living out your values.
  2. Nurture immediate relationships of acceptance, respect and trust. Relationships that exist solely in the comment section of social media posts are not real relationships. They are connections that could become a relationship only by mutual agreement and engagement.
  3. Invest your time in people and places where you can have a tangible impact. By creating impact, you are bringing change to some area of life which matters to you.

When you are unhappy, you are at a transition point. It is a signal that it is time to make a change. If you are there, then realize having good intentions for change will not carry you across the threshold. You need a plan that brings clarity to the reasons for your unhappiness. A plan that charts a path forward to allow the three principles above to create a structure that produces the life of impact you desire. If this is where you are, I can help.

If you are in a transition related to employment or career direction, let’s talk. We can begin with an initial 20 minute call, FREE. Schedule time here.

A copy of the 12 Transition Points with a brief description of each one is available as an infographic of the three Circle of Impact tools that I use in my coaching and consulting work. Receive it by signing up for my twice monthly newsletter, Circle of Initiators, at

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