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You’ve wondered, right?

You thought setting and achieving big goals would make you feel better, happier. If we’re being honest, maybe even a little invincible.

There’s more to it though. Behind the thrill of setting big goals is also a little anxiety. You don’t talk about it much, but there’s that nagging voice. What will people think of you if you fail? What will you think of yourself?

It’s exactly that fear that keeps you head down and focused. You want to land that dream job. You want to finally pay off your debt. You want to lose fifteen pounds so you aren’t embarrassed to wear shorts in the summer.

You worry that any distraction, interruption, or lack of discipline is going to send those goals down the drain, never to be seen again–and your chance at a better life will disappear with them.

So you turn down invitations, but stay up late. You eat junk food to get you through the days you feel worn down. You’re crushed by all the things you feel need to be done that just aren’t making your list.

At some point, you might stop and wonder: is it worth it?

Congratulations. That’s the first step.

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Clearly, my daughter thinks the way to be more joyful is to sing Christmas carols every chance she gets.

Or perhaps I should say Christmas carol. She only knows one.

The truth is, as much as I love the big picture of my life, my daughter will tell you I sometimes get a little … serious. And for someone who’s already pretty busy doing what she wants to do, the holidays can be a distraction I’m not always as grateful for as I should be.

But you know, that Christmas carol eventually won me over. Joy is contagious. And so I’d like to pass some along to you, just without the singing.

Here’s what I’m doing to bring more joy into my life, now and hopefully year round.

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It’s gutting, isn’t it?

You’ve finally found that thing that makes you feel giddy and alive—maybe it’s a job, or a place, or a person you think you could spend the rest of your life with.

And then, bang. It’s over.

Maybe you were fired. Maybe your positioned is being moved to Newark. Maybe they just weren’t that into you. Whatever the reason, someone else has decided the good times are over and there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you’re in the middle of that pain, you can’t help but wonder: what if that was as good as it gets?

Will I have to settle for something that will always feel less than?