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Creative Career Path

Awfully Backward About Going Forward2012.07.23

    We are not always smart about the way we pursue our goals in life. Experiencing frustration in not reaching your goals may be a sign, not that you are moving too slowly, but rather that you are actually moving away from them. It is not uncommon to find people who profess to have a goal, but whose behavior is actually taking them in the opposite direction.


    The domesticated donkey is a slow but sure footed hoofed beast of burden, related to the horse but with longer ears, and a less noble history than its equestrian cousin. Being of the species Equus asinus led to the traditional word for a donkey as an ass, a most unflattering term considering the list of other meanings associated with that word. Riding the ass backwards is slang for facing the wrong way, getting things reversed, mixed up, or confused. Though surely this is the fault of the rider, not the donkey.


    This can happen in a career, and it can happen to a country. Even smart people can find themselves going down the right path in the wrong direction, facing the goal but moving away from it. Once you are aware of the problem, the solution is fairly simple. Turn yourself and the donkey around, get off and walk, or get yourself a horse! If you want to move toward your goal, you have to act toward your goal.


    At a deeper level it is about having the right attitude toward your goals. Research in recent years in the field of Positive Psychology has demonstrated happiness eludes pursuit because we make it our goal instead of our starting point. Shawn Achor is a highly acclaimed researcher at Harvard University, and author of the bestselling book, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work. He is also a speaker on, where his video has had over 2.5 million views. A pioneer in positive psychology, he claims that the common formula for happiness is actually backwards. Most people believe that if they can only get that job, that car, or that relationship, then they will be happy. The problem is that external definitions of success are often based on moving targets. As soon as you arrive, somebody raises the bar or moves the goal. Like the hamster on a wheel you work hard to spin the wheel, but don’t actually go anywhere.


    Shawn Achor has demonstrated that in fact it is happiness that fuels success, not the other way around. In over a dozen years of research at Harvard University, working with Fortune 500 executives in 48 countries, he has outlined a way to use engage your brain to work for you instead of against you, starting where you are, right at hand. The research is Harvard quality, with case studies and anecdotes and results that demonstrate how a positive mindset can make you more creative, energetic, motivated, and productive. Learn more at


    The solution is as simple as getting off the donkey. His techniques include journaling about what you are grateful for, writing positive messages to people in your social network, meditation, exercise, and reflecting on meaningful experiences in your life. Interestingly, the people who got the most dramatic results were the people who actually did these things every day for just three weeks. Even with happiness, to move toward your goal you have to act toward your goal. The bonus is that happiness itself then gives you the motivation, energy, and ideas that fuel your success help your realize the goals that had otherwise eluded you.


    Attitude is a river that runs deep. This is why so many people are so awfully backward about going forward. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to turn things around, and you can start right where you are.



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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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