Are you satisfied with your life? I believe it is what most of us are seeking yet very few of us have found. Here are the first steps in finding it.
How do you become satisfied with your life?
I think satisfaction is what most of us are seeking. Especially high achieving people like my clients. They are people with MBAs from places like Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. They are people who earn far more than most and often struggle with trying to maximize a situation in which they simply have too many career options.
Most of us operate under the assumption that something needs to change in our lives for us to be truly satisfied. -And while the cliche’d thing to say would be that external circumstances don’t matter, I don’t agree. You can probably meditate your way to a very peaceful existence, but for most of us the model of the happy monk just isn’t going to work in the context of our lives.
What I’ve observed is that many high achievers simultaneously seek satisfaction in their lives yet at the same time ask, “should I even want to ever become satisfied with my life?”
In other words, there is a bit of a paradox: on the one hand there is a desire to be satisfied, and on the other hand there is the idea that being satisfied leads to stagnation and ultimately, deterioration. This leads to a constant push towards success that can never be satisfied, and frequently to dissatisfaction with the present.
How to resolve the paradox
The key to resolving the paradox is to have a strategic plan for your career – in fact, for your life. The plan should include the following elements:
- Your long term goals (personal & professional)
- A list of what matters to you in your life (e.g. family, autonomy, causes)
- Identification of the thing(s) that give you a sense of purpose
- Your unique competitive advantages (i.e. your strengths, the things you do well)
- Specific goals for certain aspects of your life:
- Health (e.g. exercise, sleep, nutrition, etc)
- Mental state (i.e. time off, meditation, etc)
- Relationships (e.g. time with kids, spouse, etc)
- Achievements (i.e. personal and professional goals)
- Your resources (e.g. professional network)
- A clear strategy that outlines what you will and will not do (note that this can be helpful in defining what you say no to when you get one more request on your time)
Once you’ve got the plan put together, the next thing to do is to go from the strategic to the practical. In other words, to identify what you can do this year/month/week to move towards achieving your strategic goals.
The value in having the plan is that it helps keep you on track, but also provides a way in which to measure how far you have come. When you don’t have a clear plan the challenge is that you can quite readily get blown off course by the things that come up in life each day. Having a strategic plan helps hold you accountable so that all the things you say you say are important to you actually start to happen.
In summary, one of the easiest ways to be more satisfied with your life is to define what satisfaction looks like for you and then ensure that you are constantly making progress towards it.