It is has always been interesting to me, how we people tend to live disconnected lives. We think that we want a certain thing, and then when we get it, we are happy for a while and then grow disappointed in our achievement. Or we want something badly, but are convinced that we cannot obtain that thing. It is like King Solomon wrote in book of Ecclesiastes, it’s like a “chasing after the wind”. We work hard and feel like we are pursuing some grand goal. Some end up achieving this illusive goal and find disappointment in the end; while others give up trying and become depressed.
What is Happiness?
Some find true contentment regardless of their situation in life. If you want to locate the people in life who are truly happy, look to the children. Most children have grand imaginations. They laugh and scream when they play. They tend to love life and live in the moment with little concern for the future. Adults naturally assume that children are not burdened with bills to pay or weighty responsibilities and so they are free to be happy. However, if you look at adults who have won the lottery or trust-fund kids who have more money than they could possibly spend in a lifetime, they somehow seem just as burdened as the single mom trying to make ends meet for her kids.
In my coaching practice, I will ask the question, “If money were no object, what would you like to do with your life?” I get a variety of answers depending on the person. In most cases, I get a response like I want to travel all over the world. Or, I’d buy my dream house on the lake. Or, I’d buy an expensive sports car.
I then ask my client to visualize this life they have desired. I ask them to tell me about the sights, the smells, and most importantly how they feel. It is at this point, they get a smile on their face and start to reveal why they are happy in this make-believe world. As I hear them convey the source of their happiness, it is often unrelated to the thing they purchased, but rather a feeling they have which they believe is a result of the thing they purchased.
In the coaching business, we call this disconnect, a lack of awareness. I always thought that the word ‘awareness’ was some ethereal word used by new-age adherents and the stuff of fairy tales. However, I have learned that awareness is the consistency of your thoughts, actions and feelings with your true self.
Let me give you an example. Let’s say that you want desperately to own a large, ornate house like the one in the picture above. Here’s how our conversation may go:
Coach: “What would you do if money were no object?”
Client: “I would buy a beautiful lakeside home with a beautiful garden in a lovely community.”
Coach: “You have won the lottery and you are able to purchase this very house with your winnings. How does that make you feel?”
Client: “I feel so excited to move into my new home and furnish it just the way I want it.”
Coach: “You have all of the furnishings you want, now what?”
Client: “I would invite everyone I knew over for a grand party. I would invite my family and friends to enjoy my new house with me.”
Coach: “How does this make you feel?”
Client: “I am so happy with my friends and family and we are having a great time playing games, enjoying food and drink. After my family and friends have left, I have so many great memories about the fun we had together.”
Coach: “Do you mind if I make an observation?”
Client: “Go ahead.”
Coach: “It seems to me that the source of your happiness is the time you spend with your friends and family.”
Client: “Hmm? I suppose you’re right.”
Coach: “So, what do you want in life?”
Client: “I guess I want more time with my friends and family.”
This conversation can go many different directions. Everyone has very different hopes, goals and dreams in life. However, it seems that most people are not fully aware of WHAT makes them happy. In this example conversation, the person felt like they needed to buy a beautiful home in order to invite their family and friends over to have fun. However, what they really wanted was time with their family and friends. They could have just as easily achieved their dream if they rented a community center for a day; or invited friends and family to join them for a fun day in the city park.
Business, Work and Dreams
When reading this initial portion of the post, you may ask, “Why does a business coach write a blog post about personal dreams?” Most of us are not fortunate enough to win the lottery and are suddenly able to buy whatever thing we want that we think will make us happy. Instead, we tend to work ourselves silly chasing after these same things with the same goal in mind. This chasing can end in one of three ways:
- We are disillusioned about what will actually bring us happiness and are disappointed with our purchase after years of hard work;
- We lose hope and become depressed that we cannot seem to earn enough to purchase our happiness; or
- We become aware of what really makes us happy and are deliberate about how our work and/or business fits into this vision.
As I coach individuals, I help them understand how their business or career goals fit with their personal goals. And, not just their stated goals… but why they believe their stated goals will make them happy in the first place. In some cases, people sell themselves short. They believe they cannot achieve the impossible and so they give up. In other cases, people are striving for goals that are not consistent with WHO they are and will be disappointed in their achievements.
Since a person’s happiness in their career and their job are directly connected with their happiness in this striving, a business coach has to ensure that these two things align before they can be successful in their business and/or profession.
If you are interested in having a deeper conversation about finding out what goals, dreams and life you ought to be pursuing with your business, career or in your personal life, please complete the contact form below.
Note from the Author
My name is Jeff Schuster. I am a certified Life and Business Coach serving small business owners, corporate executives and others who want to transition from “expert” to “entrepreneur”. I have been a small business owner for most of my 30-years in the workplace. I grew an energy efficiency and renewable energy engineering and construction company from nothing to over $10-million/year and sold it in 2013. I now help other business owners make amazing progress toward their own dreams of business ownership independence and success.