Hooray! Now What?
By all accounts, 2015 has been a satisfying year for me, personally and professionally. In addition to taking a wonderful family vacation to Israel, getting two kids off to high school, and cutting my work-related travel in half, I accomplished three goals that, as part of our family tradition, warranted a Carvel ice cream cake:
- I began teaching Management Communication at Wharton Business School.
- I was published in Harvard Business Review.
- I lost 25 lbs. (Trust me: I get the irony of celebrating this goal with cake).
What do all three have in common? Yes, they’re all impressive – but that’s not what I mean. And yes, they’re all the result of hard work – and that’s not what I mean either. What these three things have in common for me is that within 24 hours of reaching each of these goals, I thought to myself, “Now what?”
I gave myself a day (and probably only a few hours, if I’m being honest) to enjoy the achievement, and then had a sudden dip in interest, motivation and satisfaction as my mind began to scramble for what new goal I was supposed to be setting next. What could I do to get the next buzz? How could I top myself? What would make me happy next?
And all of a sudden, it hit me: The only thing that would “make me happy next” was slowing down my goal-driven behavior long enough to actually experience being happy. I knew what yearning felt like, and what accomplishing felt like, and what adrenaline felt like, but I had very little experience living with what just being satisfied felt like. For a professional coach who helps clients discover and lean into what’s already working well in their lives, and for a seasoned mom who teaches her kids to be grateful for what they have rather than always wanting more, I realized that I was out of alignment with my own integrity.
Eleanor Roosevelt said,
Happiness is not a goal. It’s a by-product of a life well lived.
My goal for 2016 (scratch goal, replace with plan) isn’t to want more, do more or have more.
It’s simply to be happy with what I already, blessedly have.