I blame the teachers. When I was a wee lad they would always be asking us what we wanted to be growing up. They combined this with trying to set us on the ‘correct path’ for that position.
All this seemed to do at that age was make us all worry that failing a test could set us up to work at Mcdonalds our whole lives.
This became so ingrained in our minds that now into forever we are always thinking about ‘next steps’ for our careers and lives.
It could be human nature instead of the teacher’s fault but it’s more fun to have someone to blame.
You’re Getting Older, What Could Possibly be Next?
The major problem with this idea is that we focus a lot of time and energy on trying to figure out what future steps we could take that would increase X amount of happiness.
We look at career options or, lets be frank, lack of options and have to figure out which one would create the most ‘happiness.’
Back in university this equation was probably simple: Career I Love = Happiness.
As you get older this gets more complicated: Career I Love x Salary that covers things I need and/or salary that lets me travel the world + good people to work with / far from work = happiness
It’s more complex than that but I think you get the picture. We keep adding all these qualifiers to what makes us happy.
Almost none of us do what we said we would growing up. If we did there would be a hell of a lot more sports stars and astronauts. The vast majority are in a ‘boring’ job that you probably aren’t as passionate about as they make it seem to their boss.
So I Should Just Give Up? Is That What You’re Telling me Internet Stranger? Cause I Think That’s Stupid
No. I am not telling you to give up. In fact, so far all I’ve done is describe the problem. I haven’t even begun on the solution. Don’t worry, the solution is simple but why does it matter?
It matters because we are always trying to find happiness instead of actually experiencing it.
The vast majority of people seem to go their entire lives seeking happiness instead of BEING happy.
Quick note: depression is chemical and is NOT what I am talking about, if you feel you are depressed it might be wise to consult a professional.
The Solution is to Find Happiness Right NOW.
The idea is to be content.
Which scares some people. There’s this strange culture that is against being content. It focuses on always creating something new and exciting, to shoot for the stars as they say.
While this CAN lead to success for some people you have to ask two questions: are they actually happy once they get everything? Will you be one of them?
The first question: Some successful people may actually be happy. It’s totally possible. Then think about the number of superstars who have committed suicide or seem to forever be grimacing. Are they like the dog who chased after something their entire life only to not know what to do with it once they get it?
What will you do once you reach your career goals? Is that it? Is life over? Of course not, you simply focus your time on a whole new level of problems: stress from work, inability to have sex all of a sudden, lack of friends maybe.
What to Actually Do
You need to find the little things that make you happy. Sitting on a couch sipping on a hot cup of tea is one of mine. It is something I can easily do regardless of my career.
What are some little things that make you happy? Watching hockey? Eating fine foods? Travelling?
Your life should be focused on getting as much of these little bits of happiness in as possible. The more you fill up on them, the happier you will be.
Should you try to find a job that makes you happier? Sure, but you can also enjoy some white wine on a beach.
I’m not Saying Ignore the Long Term
Like my last sentence said, the long term is something you can certainly work on. I just think people need to focus a bit more on happiness right now. Finding the things that make them happy and working on them.
Travel sounds expensive at first, but if you work on it with a goal to travel within a year or two you’ll find it is very realistic.
The other suggestions though? Tasting new wines, hanging out with friends, smelling the roses so to speak, they can all be done right now.
Focus a little more attention on current happiness and how you can improve it.