Try a quick thought experiment. Ask yourself this simple question: “What do I want in life”. I know, that’s a pretty deep question, but think about it for just a few seconds. What do you really want out of this life? Do you want to be rich? Famous? Save the world? Go to the moon?
My guess is that while you wouldn’t mind any of those things, the answer to your question can be whittled down to one simple answer.
We simply want to be happy in life. We want drink endlessly from the fountain of peace and joy. Cars, luxuries and accolades all are the surface of the true desire. The outcome of all of our aspirations will invariably lead to happiness.
So we know the desired outcome. You know what we want. Now how do we get it? Well we are all somewhere in the middle of the journey to that destination. Some of us are completely lost, others are feel like they have the road map and most of us are somewhere in the middle. Where would you place yourself?
But the journey has a timeline. We do not live forever. Once we become adults we have to decide and decide quickly what we want and head out into the jungle of life. How do we spend our time?
Well the time we spend in our lives can be split up into 3 sections:
Let’s examine this breakdown. 33% of our time we have to sleep, we cannot control it – it’s just a part of life. That leaves 66% of our lives that we determine what to do with. 33% of our lives are our own personal time. This is where our natural self will gravitate towards out interests. This is where we spend time with our families and friends and do the things we love.
That leaves us with one last section, which is work and school. And for the sake of the theme of this post let’s say you’re done with school and just call it work.
Now let me ask another important question:Are you throwing away a third of your life?
That is undoubtedly a bold question, but realize that half of the time we spend in this life (that we can control) is typically spent at your occupation. Are you really making it worth it?
Let’s quickly go back to the first question. We’ve determined that we want happiness in life, but do our actions reflect it? If I want to be a runner, should I spend half of my workout sprinting and the other half sitting and doing nothing? No, that would counter balance all the effort. If I want to make my tea sweet should I dump in a scoop of sugar and a scoop of salt? Of course not.
I would argue that, at times, our sweet tea lives are tainted by the salts of our occupations. We put ourselves in miserable jobs or settle with mediocre positions because we focus on the end result and not the means in which we get there. We all want money, but why? Is that what is making us happy? The fact that there are several studies that indicate a salary of ideal happiness (usually around 70K/year) should tell us something about the direct proportion of money to actual happiness. They don’t necessarily always correlate. While it is important to be paid for your labor its arguably equally important to work somewhere that is actually a good environment for you and helps you grow.
If you’ve made it this far, go a little further and I’ll throw in my two cents on removing the salt and adding a bit more sugar to your life tea.
Now I can’t say that I have achieved nirvana and am the happiest around, but I know I’ve seen a dramatic increase in my personal happiness when I’ve made certain changes in my career path.
1. Have a path. It’s been said a thousand times before if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there. There is no joy in aimlessly roaming. We feel genuine satisfaction when we have a goal and achieve it. Make a game plan for your career. Decide what you want or least what real direction you want to go.
2. Refocus your monetary desires. This might be hard, but once I realized that I’m exchanging my life for money I wanted to make sure that I was getting a good investment on my exchange. I’ve found that it’s smarter to make less and budget more than to make more and be miserable. Decide a reasonable amount of money to make and aim for that goal. Just saying you want to be rich is as pointless as being rich as not having the ability to enjoy the fruits of your labors. Find out how much you need to be happy and to support your family and live within those means.
3. You are who you are around. Remember that the people you surround yourself with play a huge role in your life. Having great room mates, great friends and a great family is good but having equally great coworkers is just as important. Surround yourself with other people who want to grow, who are positive and who want to learn.
We all find joy in different ways, and my advice might not be as helpful to some; But I can promise if you take a step back and analytically examine the path you are on – it will be a lot easier to figure out the path you want to take and the steps necessary to get back on the right track and sweeten up the delicious tea of life.