Back when my husband and I were dating, he would pop in self-help audiocassette tapes to help pass the time when we were on long road trips.
It would get on my nerves. As soon as he began reaching for one of those darn tapes, I would roll my eyes.
“Seriously, we can’t listen to some Luther Vandross?” I would protest.
He would ignore me and play the tapes. And I would listen, ultimately conceding it was well worth the time to explore what I really wanted in life and how to get it.
What do you want out of life? Are you happy with the work you do to earn the money you need? If you aren’t happy, what are you doing to make a change?
I had those questions in mind when selecting the final Color of Money Book Club pick of the year, “Amazing Things Will Happen: A Real-World Guide on Achieving Success & Happiness” by C.C. Chapman (Wiley, hardcover and e-book, $22.95). Chapman is a marketing and business consultant and professional speaker.
At about 200 pages, this small hardback is a quick read. The advice is dispensed in short chapters that cover where you are right now, where you want to be, how to get where you’re going and why you should give back once you reach your destination.
“Many people want more money, a new job, or a happier relationship, but they are not willing to put in the time and work to make any of it happen,” Chapman writes. “There are so many get-rich-quick schemes out there that I wanted to create a road map that people could actually use to achieve their dreams successfully.”
As I read Chapman’s book, I thought of Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” How do you get on the right road? And when you travel down that path, how do you prevent having regrets for taking a road less traveled?
One way Chapman said to put aside regrets is to be a “Passion Hit” — his term to describe people who are able to make a living doing what they love. Chapman has created a Web site (www.passionhit.tv) that profiles people who have found a way to monetize their passion.
As you travel your road to the life you want, Chapman offers simple tips for the journey. For example, he suggests you go old-tech and keep a small notebook to jot down the things you need or want to do. I know, it’s easier to pull out your smartphone. But speaking for myself, writing notes on paper forces me to really think about what I want to say.
Whenever you write things down, try this exercise. Consider the things you want to do in the coming year, and then choose three words to motivate you to take action. One year, Chapman’s three words were “simplify,” “focus” and “attack.”
Let’s take the word “simplify.” “Think about income, time away from the family, and anything else that might change as you make a shift,” Chapman writes. “You should never do anything that risks the happiness of the people who mean the most to you.”
What would your three words be for 2013? I’ve got to put “no” on my list because I say “yes” to far too many things that distract me from work I want to do.
“Choosing the three words is not easy,” Chapman says, “but this is a helpful exercise that will give you a guide for the year ahead and where you want to go next in life.”
Chapman’s advice takes me back to those self-help tapes and those motivational speakers trying to shake people from complacency.
Chapman writes that his book can be summed up this way: “Once you figure out what you want out of life, if you work very hard, day in and day out, you can make it happen. But you have to be a good human being in addition to doing the work. As you achieve success, never forget to be kind to others. Help those who need it and share everything you’ve learned with all who ask. Follow these principles in your life, and amazing things will happen.”
I’ll be hosting a live online discussion about “Amazing Things Will Happen” at noon Eastern on Jan. 3 at washingtonpost.com/conversations. Chapman will join me to answer your questions. Every month, I randomly select readers to receive a copy of the featured book, which is donated by the publisher. For a chance to win a copy of this month’s book club selection, send an email to email@example.com with your name and address.
Readers can write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to postbusiness.com.