Dave Braun thought he had it all: the perfect family, a stable job, beautiful home, nice cars.
But after some bad investments and choices, his world came crashing down on him, and one day, he found himself living in a cheap motel, divorced, broke and alone.
“At that moment, I knew I needed to reach out to someone,” Braun wrote in his recent book. “In my core, I just knew I needed to get back on the path that I had strayed from some time ago.”
The person he turned to was Troy Amdahl, for whom Braun had interned more than a decade before and to whom he hadn’t spoken in years.
Amdahl not only helped Braun get his life back on track, but the two also started a journey that has led to two books, hundreds of thousands of followers on social media and a cross-country tour to collect dreams and teach others how to obtain balance in their lives.
Their program — or the Oola lifestyle, as they call it — originated in the late 1990s when Braun interned at Amdahl’s chiropractic practice. For several years, the two met at the end of the year and discussed what goals they had for the next year for their families and finances and in their social lives. They fell out of contact with each other, but when Braun called Amdahl for help putting his life back together, they began talking about their goals again, which launched Oola.
The name Oola comes from the phrase “Ooh la la,” which is “what it feels like when you’re happy, growing and looking forward to what the world has in store for you,” according to their recent book, “Oola for Women: How to Balance the 7 Key Areas of Life to Have Less Stress, More Purpose, and Reveal the Greatness Within You.”
The program has evolved to focus on setting goals in seven specific areas, or the seven F’s of Oola — fitness, finance, family, field, faith, friends and fun — as well as traits that block or accelerate progress in those areas.
“When people look at their lives, they really start to see they were created for something great and they've lost that along the way in all the craziness (of life),” said Braun, who has lived in Utah for the past decade, in an interview with the Deseret News.
When they reunited and came up with the ideas for the program, Braun and Amdahl decided to write a book about their experiences, which they wrote in just three days. The book, “Oola: Find Balance in an Unbalanced World,” was released in 2012 and went on to sell more than 100,000 copies as a self-published book, according to Braun.
“Sharing Oola with others started with the book,” he said, explaining that from there they started getting requests for events to teach the program.
“Oola for Women,” which was published by the original publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, builds on the principles established in the first book but includes stories from women who have taken on the Oola challenge, including four Utah women — Marcie Lyons, Chaly Jones, Dusty Hardy and Brittany Jacobson.
“In the first book, we tell our stories,” Braun explained. “In the women’s book, it’s 42 women that have dreams and goals that we met at events (and) on social media.”
Events have now morphed into a cross-country tour in a 1970s Volkswagen bus. Braun and Amdahl are stopping at random places along their trek from city to city, asking people they meet to write a dream or goal on a sticker and put it on the bus. Their goal is to collect 1 million dreams. Anyone who can’t see the OolaBus in person can submit their dream online and a volunteer will write it on a sticker for them.
“People always ask, ‘What is this bus thing all about?’” Braun said. “It's about reconnecting you to your purpose, to your dreams.”
They will be in Salt Lake City for a book signing on Sunday, June 18, and will be in the area with the bus in the days leading up to the signing.
For anyone looking to start the Oola program or begin setting goals in their life, Braun suggests building on the SMART goal format, a widely used acronym that means goals should be specific, measurable, accountable, realistic and linked to time.
From there, he suggests dividing a 3-by-5 card into two columns every day: one column for keeping track of the day-to-day things that need to be accomplished, such as cleaning the kitchen, picking up the dry cleaning or turning in a paper, and the other column for listing a few steps that will help you reach your goals in one or more of the seven F’s of Oola.
“Every day, you take three to seven steps toward goals as well as take care of the junk in your life. If you do that for a year, that’s over 1,000 steps toward your Oola life,” Braun said. “It makes such a big difference. It’s just living intently with it on the front of your mind.”
If you go
What: “Oola for Women” book signing with Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl
When: Sunday, June 18, noon-2 p.m.
Where: Barnes and Noble, 1104 E. 2100 South
Oola Dream Tour
Utah resident Dave Braun and Troy Amdahl are traveling the country spreading the word about their Oola method for goal setting and establishing a balanced life.