“I’ll Be Happy When ___________.”
How would you fill in the blank? There is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has their own unique goals in life. You might say, I’ll be happy when I get that promotion or when we move into a bigger house or when I get that bonus.
We can all think of much more than one thing that would make us happy… but, if we’re honest with ourselves, this future happiness based on a “when” creates a dangerous pattern. Basing our happiness on “when” leads us to perpetually hope for the next moment and the next. When we finally get promoted, we are satisfied for but a moment, but soon our eyes turn to the next, higher position and we long for the next opportunity. When we move into a bigger house and get settled, after just a short while it starts to feel too small again. The finish line keeps moving slightly beyond our reach.
We set ambitious goals for ourselves, and there is nothing wrong with that. Without goals, we likely wouldn’t accomplish much. However, we tend to firmly believe that achieving our goals will make us happy, that we will be changed forever. The reality is that this isn’t so in most cases. Happiness is not something static and finite, tied to results and outcomes, but rather fluid. While fixating on the future, we tend to forget to enjoy the life we are living right now. We can choose to be happy today.
Creating the Happiness Mindset
So how do we get there? Creating this mindset is simpler than you think but not easy to implement. The next time you’d like to apply meaningful change in your life, our advice is this: to stop obsessing over outcomes and, instead, start celebrating the small progress you make each day.
When we focus our attention on the process of growth instead of the results, we free ourselves from disappointment and frustration – which provides us with more energy to be our best selves.
To help create this mindset, remember the following:
1. Change doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Success is the sum of small efforts practiced every day.
3. If we make the effort, we will get better. If we don’t make the effort, we won’t get better.
When we pivot from our obsession with outcomes to appreciation of the process, we are no longer burdened by achievements or the next big thing. Our goal is not something distant in the future anymore. Instead, we seek the fulfillment that can be found in each day by doing our best to impact others and make a difference little by little. Our new goal, refreshed every morning, is simply to be a bit better today than yesterday. With this mindset, happiness is achievable right now and can be yours every day.
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Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholder Centered Coaching is the world's largest executive coach network. Our Executive Team is at the forefront of measurably growing leadership effectiveness around the world.