If all of the statistics are right, most of us are merely doing what’s next and not what’s us. It is almost like we’re sleepwalking through life. The Gallup Organization says that only one in five of us are doing what we do best every day. So, is it possible to be successful and content in our work? If it is, why aren’t more of us doing it?

Success and contentment are the end product of two ingredients: 1) We figure out who we really are and how we are wired and then 2) We go out and do a lot of it (whatever it is) to the best of our ability. Both elements matter, and they are critical to finding our life’s mission. Perhaps the biggest hurdle: Most people haven’t taken the time to get quiet and assess themselves and learn about how they are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I know this because I was once one of those people. I thought success was about money alone. I worked hard and began to rise financially and influence in various organizations. I bought toys and homes. I had it all, or at least I thought I did. But there was always a gnawing feeling that there was more. Most of the time it was just a low hum. Then one day I was looking out my window in my corner office in Chicago and there in the quiet that low hum became deafening. It drove me out to try and find what was missing, and thankfully I have found it. Now, I have made it my life’s work to help other’s find it for themselves.

A world of distractions

There are a lot of culprits that keep us from knowing ourselves, but let me begin with an obvious reason, one that shouldn’t surprise anyone: We all live in a distracted world with a lot of interruptions. We don’t do ‘quiet’ very well anymore. If we accidentally leave our phones at home we feel lost all day, unsure of what to do with all of the extra time on our hands. We even feel awkward and disconnected, right?

Another statistic: The average knowledge worker in the United States is interrupted every 11 minutes. And, because it’s 11 whole minutes, we interrupt ourselves twice during that span. That means that we go no more than 4 minutes between interruptions that are from the outside or self-induced.

That is a problem. Fixable? Yes. Easy? Not at all. Scheduling down time is hard because everyone expects us to be responsive. If we don’t answer an email or text in 5 minutes, the sender is put off, or worse. Our bosses and spouses and kids want us to be there any time they reach out.

We each have to resolve that issue if we are to find success and happiness. Finding space and time is vital. Creating margin as often as possible will clarify what’s next for us.

Battling Busyness

John Wooden famously said, “Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” Yet, we are all more active than ever. But, in all of our activity, what are we achieving, really?

The Halftime Institute is built to help busy people like you and I get to the heart of the matter…  What makes us tick…What we really care about… How to match who we are with what we do.

I can tell you from experience that the secret is in having a coach. Nobody should try to figure this out for themselves. Assessments, like the Gallup StengthsFinder or the Meyers-Briggs are fine. It’s good to have this data about yourself. But, then, once you have that in hand, you need someone to walk with you who you trust implicitly, who has your best interest at heart, and who is unafraid to tell you the unvarnished truth.

Knowledge without an action plan isn’t a solution.

And, let me add this: It takes a lot of bravery to go through this process of self-evaluation and coaching. You never know what you are going to learn, and once you know these things about yourself, you can’t ignore what it means for you and your future and your calling. There is great power in knowing, and there is great responsibility.

So, is it possible to have success and contentment? Just spend some time with our alumni and you’ll know. Take Scott Boyer, a former pharmaceutical executive. He came through the Halftime Institute and had an epiphany: He was supposed to stay in the pharmaceutical business but there was a twist. He would launch a new venture called OWP Pharmaceuticals and he would tie it to a foundation that would take up to half the profits and provide medication, equipment and healing to those around the world who would never be able to afford it. Has it been easy? Absolutely not. Is this the most fulfilling time of his life? Yes, without a doubt and he’d be the first to tell you.

The list of Halftime Institute alumni who have found success and contentment numbers in the thousands. They were like you and me. Striving, and chasing the brass ring and doing it really well. And then one day they looked up from their desks in the corner office and said, “Is this it?”

And, the answer to that question became a quest that led them here. Today, they are out changing their world in ways they couldn’t have imagined. They are leaving legacies. Their hearts are full.

Success and contentment. If you are not experiencing it, get started. It’s not only possible, but imperative.

Dean Niewolny
Dean Niewolny spent 23 years in executive roles with three of Wall Street’s largest financial firms, finishing his career in the financial sector as market manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Chicago, where he oversaw a $100mm market. While in Chicago, he and his wife, Lisa, traveled many times to Africa and, seeing the abject needs of widows and orphans, made life changes that enabled them to get involved, such as helping to complete an orphan home and a Hospice home in Durbin, South Africa.

In 2010, Dean traded his marketplace career for Halftime to help more people who, like him, wanted to expand their own “first half” success and skills into passion and purpose for meeting human needs and making a significant difference. Dean joined Halftime as Managing Director and in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer.

Dean speaks all over the world to marketplace leaders who desire to use their gifts and talents to serve others. His passion is to encourage business leaders to channel first-half achievement into a second half defined by joy, impact and balance. His first book, Trade Up: How to Move From Making Money to Making A Difference, was published by Baker Publishing and released in July 2017. Click here to buy Trade Up.

Having grown up playing sports—eventually in college and semi-professional baseball—Dean still enjoys coaching youth sports, especially his son’s little league teams. He and Lisa have two children and live in Southlake, Texas.