My all-time favorite bumper sticker is a simple one: “Life sucks. And then you die.”
It’s not my favorite because I believe it, but because I know a lot of people who do.
That’s not to say I haven’t ever felt that way after a particularly rough patch at home or school or work. But today, and most of the rest of the time, I like to think I’m more optimistic than that.
I bring this up now because I’ve personally found that the holiday season is the easiest time of the year to start feeling sorry for yourself, or to continue feeling sorry for yourself in a more pronounced way if you’re already so inclined.
There’s a good chance someone you know is going to get some spectacular holiday present — maybe it will be a new car or a new computer or just about anything “they” can afford but you can’t — while you’re sucking on lumps of coal this year.
There’s not much we can do about other people’s successes except wish them well and try not to envy them too much. I don’t always do that, even though I know it’s the right thing to do.
But like anything worth doing, sometimes you just have to do it.
That’s the message I read recently in what was intended to be a sales motivation article. The author, nationally known sales trainer Joe Bonura, had a simple message: Do what needs to be done every day if you want to be successful.
“Sometimes I do not want to write these articles, but I do it anyway,” he wrote. “Sometimes I do not feel like making sales calls, but I do it anyway. Sometimes I do not feel like getting out of bed at 5 a.m. and walking in the morning, but I do it anyway. Sometimes I do not like watching what I eat, but I do it anyway.
“Success comes to those who do the necessary tasks anyway,” he wrote. “I have learned that the actions that make us successful in business and in life are never easy. That explains why so few people succeed and why so many people fail.”
He cites a study showing that out of 100 men and women starting in business at the age of 25, only five will be financially independent by the time they retire. The other 95, he says, will blame their circumstances rather than their own lack of effort for their inability to match the financial success of the other five.
The definition of “success” in this case could just as well be “happy” as opposed to money, because even though the author is talking about financial success, it’s my observation that the same percentages apply when assessing how many people are truly happy with their lives.
In fact, finding five “happy” people out of 100 might be more difficult than finding five “successful” people in the same group. And odds are the “happy” and the “successful” people won’t necessarily be the same ones.
Anyway, this year is about over; amid the partying and the presents, we’ll each have a little time to consider whether we’re one of the five or one of the 95. We’ll each have time to consider what we can do to switch groups, too.
It all starts with that bumper sticker, though, and making sure that’s not the code we live by.