Does your career motivate you, or drain you? Do you set goals for your work and life?
Like many people, at the beginning of every year I set goals I’d like to work towards. Strangely, one of the reasons I love setting goals is not necessarily because I achieve them every time!
The thing is that every time I set a goal, a whole bunch of limiting beliefs pop up for me. “Are you crazy? You can’t have that!” or “That’s meant for other people” or “You don’t deserve that one!” Goals provide us with opportunities to find our limiting beliefs and clear them out (through tools like EFT, Sedona Method or PSYCH-K) because for absolute sure, they not only limit us from having that one specific goal – they limit us in every area of our life. So when I hear a limit popping up in my mind, I get excited (okay, sometimes I feel disheartened!) – because the limit is conscious now and I can work on letting it go.
Does Money Make Us Happy?
This year I’ve had a hard time to set an income goal for the year. Last year I set a huge goal and didn’t even come close to reaching it. I’ve known for a long time that a money amount does very little for my motivation. My top 10 values (our inner drivers) do not include money – and even when I think about the ‘things’ that money can buy me, I often don’t get excited about it. What excites me is learning, having meaningful conversations, making a difference for someone, travel, interesting experiences.
For the past 2 weeks I’ve been pondering and wondering what to do with my usual money goal. And this morning, finally, it came to as I was busy with one of my most energizing activities – learning!
My husband left at 5.30 am to go and play an ‘Early Bird’ 9 holes of golf and I got up and watched a part of the Udemy course called “Learn to Fully Charge your Work and Life” by Tom Rath. Bells of excitement rang in my head because I now know what to do with my goal. Perhaps it will mean something to you as well.
Tom describes the newest research on a whole new emerging science called Daily Wellbeing. He mentions that the amount of money we earn has not been found to be an accurate predictor of happiness. There’s a point (around $40,000 household income in the US) where the anxiety levels start dropping off, and happiness seems to increase a little. However, beyond the $75,000 annual income point, the happiness and daily wellbeing of people did not show any increase. In other words, more money does not make us more happy.
Goals and Happiness
The reason we usually set income goals is because we believe when we achieve it, we’ll feel happy, satisfied, fulfilled, peaceful, security – those things that usually tie in with our values.
As we’ve just seen, the research shows that happiness is not tied to income. In fact, of the 5 ‘happiest’ countries in the world, 4 of them were from the poorest countries on the globe.
Instead, scientists have found the following 3 things to be important keys for daily happiness:
Meaning can be described as any small act that improves the life of another person. If you’re a call centre agent, and an irate customer phones in and you’re able to help them get back to neutral with the help you provide, you’ve done something meaningful. Meaning is found in hundreds of small things every day – and the more people we impact in a positive way, the more meaning our lives have. We can all find ways to create meaning in our work and personal lives.
- Having far more positive than negative interactions during the course of a day
Researchers have found that one negative interaction dramatically outweighs several positive interactions. Depending on the context, we need at least 3, 4, or 5 positive interactions to counteract the negative and to get back to neutral point. We need at least 80% positive interactions in general.
In his book How Full is your Bucket , Tom describes how each interchange with another person either takes from their bucket or adds to it. There are so many little interactions during each day where we have the opportunity to either put something into someone’s bucket or take something out of it and cause damage.
Yes, we cannot always control what others put into our bucket. One thing we CAN control is whether we insert more positive, or more negative energy into our daily interactions. Those choices and actions bring us personal happiness, and it will come back to us in various ways.
- Having the physical energy to be at your best
In order to have enough physical energy daily, we need to put our own health and energy first. His book Eat Move Sleep is a comprehensive guide.
Tom’s research has found that workers in the service industry (hospice, nurses, teachers) throughout world usually puts everyone else’s needs before their own. The usually do it for all the ‘right’ altruistic reasons – for instance, to make a difference in someone else’s life. However, the results are not sustainable.
If we consistently put our sleep, rest, and healthy eating on the backburner, the result is that at 2 or 3 pm we don’t have enough energy to be there for someone who needs us – our children, our clients, our patients, our students.
“Put on your own oxygen mask first”, he councils. If we don’t take care of our own energy and health needs, we simply cannot be there for others.
Yes, it does often feel hard to choose the salad over the cheeseburger. Or the exercise over staying in bed for one more hour. One way to provide the motivation for healthy choices is to tie the short-term sacrifice to a long-term benefit for something we care about. For instance – having this salad now will provide me with sustained energy so when I get home, I’ll feel like playing with my kids or practicing my hobby.
Goals for Happiness
So here’s the bottom line for me.
We want our goals to bring us happiness. And often, we choose goals that are very hard to work on because they feel out of alignment for us. They don’t align with our values – and that usually is a recipe for suffering as I’ve written before.
How about we choose goals that allow us to work on daily happiness, instead of waiting for the end result to bring us happiness?
That’s why, this year, my goals will include things I can do to create meaning, positive interactions and physical energy.
Here’s one goal I’m setting:
“Put something positive into another person’s bucket every single day of 2016.”
That’s a goal I feel absolutely juiced about. There’s so many ways to do it. In person, via an email, on social media, with my podcast. So many opportunities to fill someone’s bucket. And in that process, I make a difference for someone else and thereby create meaning in my life.
Here’s another one.
“5 Client appointments per week.”
That’s exciting and sustainable for me. I love my client work yet I’m an introvert and too much talking drains me. My appointments are 75-90 minutes long and I only schedule client appointments 3 days a week. That’s sustainable and will contribute to my physical energy level staying high. This is a far more meaningful goal to me than a money amount. And it will create daily happiness.
We’ve often heard “It’s the journey that counts, not the end result.” So here’s a way that we can create happy moments on every single step of that journey. And yes, those steps will lead to an end result that we’ll love too.
I’d love to hear from you. What would your career goals be, to create daily happiness throughout 2016?
If you need help setting career goals – or if your career is no longer inspiring, meaningful and fulfilling for you – I warmly invite you to book a Meaningful Career Strategy hour with me. Complete the application form so we can start your happiness journey together. It’s so worth it!
Liesel helps sensitive introverts to see their sensitivity as a superpower, love their work and practice awesome self-care so they can be energized and make a difference in a meaningful and fulfilling way. She helps them to overcome the fear of being visible, avoiding the spotlight and conflict, being ‘too nice’, perfectionism and procrastination.
She’s the author of “No Problem. The Upside of Saying No”, which is a handbook for those who struggle to say no, are overwhelmed and exhausted.
Click here to read about the book.