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I'll Be Happy When...
On Desire & Striving
Ten years ago, a friend had the good fortune to go out on top.
At the time, I shared a favorite life lesson.
Today, I bring it to you.
A story about a friend who, like me, can struggle with happiness. In their case, extreme success leaves them feeling empty. To top it off, they have a large public profile which leaves them exposed to the people who hate us for no reason.
We spent an evening together and I shared the best thing I learned by leaving a career that paid me a lot of money.
If you’re not happy with your current success then you’re unlikely to be satisfied with more.
In a couple years, you will forget why you needed to change.
You may trick yourself into coming back to something that wasn’t able to satisfy you in the first place.
Be sure to write down your reasons for leaving.
The following have all been goals of mine.
I’ll be happy when…
I get into a top school
I graduate from a top school
I’m promoted to partner
I leave the firm
I get my weight under 190 pounds
I win a race
I win another race
I win a world championship
I pay off my loans
I borrow more loans
I save $1,000 / $10,000 / $100,000 / $250,000 / $1,000,000 or more
I find someone to love me1
I buy a big house
I sell a big house
I own a fancy car
I sell a fancy car
Make it real, write it down, see how it makes you feel.
When you achieve your goal…
DID IT WORK?
After 30 years2 of ticking off goals, I’ve come to see a pattern.
Achieving goals fails to provide lasting satisfaction.
There is chronic dissatisfaction stalking one side of my personality.
But I tell myself dissatisfaction helps me strive towards my goals.
And by striving towards my goals…
I’m likely to continue to be dissatisfied.
And, I watch my wife and kids – who are deeply happy.
And, I realize “things that make me unhappy” don’t happen all that often. Just like the happy things, they are temporary. What makes them linger is carting them around afterwards.
And I could hear my internal voice tempting me by saying I need to get more and more done.
Here’s what I know is likely to work most days – run in the morning, write, ride in the afternoon. Between those three things, do what needs to be done, ideally by helping others.
What’s your formula?
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My friend never looked back and continues to inspire people around the world.
I develop the capacity for intimacy => a worthy goal.
Now 40 years. The pattern hasn’t left, but I see it more clearly.