Will Getting Results Make You Happy?
Tonight, I'm sitting in a coffee shop on Cape Cod. I'm in the small town of Woods Hole, where I used to spend my summers as a kid.
I spent a summer here two years ago, and I'm here again now, as the air becomes cold, thinking about my time spent under these old copper beach trees.
Running through old memories, I remember how, last summer, I was very goal oriented. I was driven to achieve something big, and I put in a lot of time to achieve my goals. I worked towards a lot of goals that summer, and (sometimes) I achieved them.
I thought that, as a goal oriented young man, I was turning myself into a better, happier person. I though I was being very smart, but I’m wondering now if I was really so clever.
I was pretty sure that getting good results would make me happy. But was I right?
Or are good results more like a shot of cocaine, there for a second and gone the next?
1. My Goal To Have Over $10,000
Over that summer, I set myself a goal that I thought was worthy of working towards.
I wrote it down in one of my notebooks: Have a five figure net worth.
To me, 10K is a lot of dough, and I thought that achieving this goal would mean something for me.
Now, to be fair, I already knew all of the ‘money doesn’t buy happiness’ speech by heart. I knew that I wouldn’t suddenly feel a spring in my step as soon as I had amassed this pile.
I know money isn’t a cure-all. I just thought that, having achieved this goal, I’d be able to look back and be proud in some way.
Interestingly enough, I’m not even sure achieving this goal has done that for me. I know that throwing this big a sum into my IRA is a great start, (most 20 year olds won’t think of retirement for another decade or so) but this doesn’t really increase even my own feeling of pride in setting and achieving this goal.
I feel more than anything else that I have just habituated to the goal. Now I don’t even think about it. I’m once again looking onward and upward.
Would I be less happy without having completed this goal? I’m not sure.
2. A Goal I Haven’t Achieved
I have a much bigger goal set for 2017. I need to change a large number of people’s lives by teaching them something valuable, and I have to earn a big pile-o-cash (I'll never learn) in return for what I teach.
I’m working towards this goal a little every day, but I’m still dreadfully far away from any level of ‘achievement’ in this area. I’m actually messing it up in many more ways than one, and from an outside perspective I probably look hopelessly far away.
This goal is causing a lot of trouble for me, and has led me down a few dead ends with some pretty powerful consequences.
So Which Goal Do I Prefer?
Which goal is bringing me more day-to-day enjoyment?
Is it the goal I’ve achieved, or is the one I’m hopelessly in pursuit of.
It’s actually pretty clear to me. The goal I’m more excited by the goal I'm chasing after. It’s the one I’m most looking forward to thinking about.
It’s so funny. While I was in pursuit of my first $10,000, this goal excited me as well. Once I achieved it, however, I put it on the shelf and it started to get dusty.
This new goal, bigger than before, more challenging, and more intimidating, is the one that excites me.
Past victories may content me when I’m old, but now I’m always on the hunt for more.
I’m pretty convinced that getting results gets me happy like a shot of some drug that leads to a short term buzz or high.
Pursuing results, on the other hand, may prove to be what brings the potential for lifelong interest, excitement, and pleasure.