Since you were a boy everyone has told you to ‘set goals’ but no one told you how to frame them. What is success? It is tempting to measure your success by the benchmarks of others. This is especially true in sports, sex and money. Is making more money than your friends going to make you happy?
Reaching a benchmark will result in a short lived happiness but when it fades, will you need to exceed the next benchmark to regain your happiness? What is the difference between you and the donkey, or ass, pulling the cart while it chases the elusive carrot? The cart you pull is full of your fears and self doubts and you are only temporarily relived of their burden when you catch the carrot. However, once the carrot is gone, the cart is reattached and you are left dragging it through life as you chase the next carrot.
Don’t be an ass. If hitting 30 home runs will make you happy this year, how many will be required next year? If sleeping with 2 women this month will make you happy, how many will be required next month? If making $250,000 will make you happy this year, how much will you need to make next year? In five years, when you need to hit 40 home runs, make $1,000,000 a year and sleep with 50 women, when will you have time to enjoy your success and be happy and with whom will you share it?
Having a good definition of success is an important component of happiness. I keep a quote from a calendar taped to my monitor, it says “measure your wealth by the state of your health, the love of your family and the number of good friends.”
On those days where fame seems glamorous and glamour sounds good, I am reminded that I am important to my family and friends. On those days where I become distracted by the financial success of others, this quote reminds me of the well balanced life I lead to maintain my health and happiness.
Set goals that match your definition of success and happiness. Celebrate each and every achievement, but remember that the resulting thrill will last only as long as the celebration. Don’t confuse success or happiness with fame, glory, money, power, prowess, even if everyone else does. Maintaining your integrity in spite of fame, glory, money, power and prowess is a real success and will set the stage for happiness.