Do you ever stop to think about where you’re at in life? I spend a few hours every week reflecting on life, and sometimes this time goes more in-depth than others. Recently I’ve been thinking about happiness. I set out to discover the secret to being happier in life and business and guess what? I figured it out!
Last weekend was one of those “deeper reflection” times. I asked myself, am I really happy with my life and with my business?
Now from the outside looking in, you’d say 100%, yes!
But when I’m real with myself, am I?
Although I had made significant progress in both life and in business, there were two main goals I was missing:
- I want a house on the beach. I’m not in a house on the beach, I’m currently in a condo.
- I want to grow my online community. Which had been happening slower than I expected.
At that moment, I was conflicted when asking myself whether or not I was happy. The internal battle began because I had lost sight of something fundamental that can be summarized in this one sentence:
“Stop longing for the destination; start enjoying the journey.”
What does this mean? (Understanding the meaning behind these words marks the beginning of decoding the secret to being happier in life and business!)
More than ever before we live in a world of instant gratification. We’ve all become impatient in receiving what we desire.
For leaders, business owners, and entrepreneurs, this means we want to achieve the vision that we have inside of us.
We’re on the journey, and making progress, getting things done, learning and succeeding along the way but our eyes on the destination or the prize.
Don’t get me wrong, in some scenarios keeping your eyes on the destination is healthy and essential to your long-term success. However, it becomes dangerous when we focus on it continuously.
Let me explain how and why:
I remember as a kid going snowboarding with my family every year. Shortly after (finally) getting the hang of it, started to realize I needed to go higher up the mountain to get some real speed and jumps.
I can remember getting on this one lift which appeared to be taking me to the top of the mountain. While I was still on that lift I was getting pumped up to be riding down the entire mountain, I couldn’t wait!
I finally reached the top of the lift, I jumped off and was instantly surprised. Turns out I was only halfway up the mountain… from where I was near the bottom where I am now appeared to be the top.
Long story short, I looked down the mountain and realized I may have been overly enthusiastic and ambitious for a newbie on the slopes, so I decided not to go higher up the mountain.
How does this relate to our “destination”? Often when we’ve created business plans, or have a destination in mind, when we finally land there, we realize it was but a milestone or checkpoint. We have more that we want to do and achieve now.
This isn’t a bad thing, it’s actually great! Our visions should continuously evolve, grow, and develop. This should happen consistently throughout life and business.
Here’s where the problem happens:
When we’re so focused on this ever-changing destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. Within this truth, the secret to being happier in life and business is hidden.
Going back to my snowboarding example, I didn’t even realize the high slopes I was passion on the way up to “the top” so I didn’t enjoy the beautiful scenery or plan my descent from the mountain. I missed those opportunities.
Here’s the deal, if you’re so focused on the destination in life and in business, you’ll wake up one day, and it’ll all be over.
There have been many surveys conducted on people who are nearing the end of their lives. The critical question they are asked is, “What do you wish you would have done differently?” Here’s an excellent short overview of some of the most common responses: Top five regrets of the dying.
The results are conclusive. Almost every person said they wish they had more time for friends, family, and doing what they enjoyed doing. It was never about money, fame, or possessions, it was more time to spend with friends, family, helping others, or to simply enjoy life more. It’s time we take a lesson from this. We need to stop seeking and longing after that destination!
How can we do this practically:
#1. Write down the destination.
Getting this out of our heads and onto paper is the first step of stopping ourselves from thinking about it.
An example of this is like going to the grocery store. If you don’t make a list, your mind is racing through items that you need to pick up over and over again because you don’t want to forget anything. But, when you write down what you need to get while you’re at the grocery store, you don’t think about it at all.
The point of writing down the destination or ultimate goal isn’t to forget about it, it’s to keep you focused on what matters today to get you closer to that destination.
2. Write down the significant steps needed to get to that destination. These are your big goals.
What are the things that need to happen in your for you to achieve what you’re dreaming? I want to keep this post as focused as possible, but if you need help in this area, I encourage you to listen to this podcast episode: Going from Dreamer to High Achiever with Alex Sanfilippo
3. Break down your big goals into smaller goals that are obtainable daily, weekly, monthly quarterly, and yearly. (Get very organized here)
I do this through managing my day on my calendar, my to-do list and my weekly reflection. If you’re interested in diving deeper into this topic, please join the Creating a Brand Community (It’s free to get started) and reach out to me, I have some great resources for you!
Now for the important one…
4. Celebrate the wins, and reward yourself along the way.
This is where I’ve missed it time and time again in my life. This is potentially the simplest way to begin uncovering the secret to being happier in life and business.
I’ll achieve something big, like my podcast becoming a top 100 business podcast, or a top 20 entrepreneurship podcast and people will sing my praises for doing it 100% organically, and I should celebrate. But I don’t. I just tell myself, “Alex, stay focused. There is more to be done.”
Here’s the deal, Alex. There’s always more to be done! That will never, ever stop being the case.
How to start celebrating your progress:
A. Get yourself around people who like to have a good time.
My wife is one of these people… I can do something minor, and she’s ready to hit the road and take a vacation or long weekend. It’s very healthy for me.
I also have a great friend base of people who like to celebrate the wins whenever we all have them.
This brings me to my second point…
B. If you don’t tell people your progress and wins, they’ll never know. Be vocal!
Tell people about the wins. Share it on social media and how you’re celebrating!
C. Incorporate accountability
Make sure that you have people in your life who are holding you accountable. This has been the most helpful for me. I have a friend who will literally ask me, “How have you celebrated the wins this week?” – This is a game-changer!
D. Express gratitude
Who helped you reach the level of achievement your living in? What are you thankful for today? Out loud, tell people, “Thank you!” Before going to bed, tell yourself what you’re grateful for from that day, be as specific as possible. (Even consider journaling it.)
In conclusion I want to be this full circle. Stop longing for the destination; start enjoying the journey.
You may never reach your destination. Just like my online community may never reach the numbers in my head or I may never find that beachfront property deal I’m looking for. Or on the other hand, we may both reach our goals and expand on them. The point is, you have to learn to be content where you are today and with the progress you’ve made. This is what gives what you are doing meaning, and adds purpose to your life.
At the end of your life, what do you want people to say about you?
- “He/she was someone who got things done. They achieved a lot in their lifetime.”
- “He/she lives in the moment. They were extremely successful and always seemed to enjoy what they were doing.”