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Most people who know me would consider me a patient person. And when it comes to interacting with other people, they’re mostly right.
I’m a good listener, no matter how long it takes you to tell your story, and I hate rushing, so I never want to rush other people. On my best days, I don’t even get irritated when I’m behind a slow driver. (Although if I’m in a bad mood already, watch out!)
But when it comes to the things I want most in life — to be fully healthy with no lingering symptoms, to meet my partner in life and start a family, to reach new levels of business success — all of that lovely patience just *poof* disappears.
So I’m writing today’s blog as much for me as for you.
I (along with most people I know) occasionally fall into the “I’ll be happy when…” trap.
You know, as in, “I’ll be happy when I get a new job” or “I’ll be happy when I meet my soul mate” or “I’ll be happy when I lose 15 lbs.”
If you’re like me, this isn’t a new concept. You’ve heard a million times that it’s not good to postpone your happiness. You probably know all of the clichés by heart: “Enjoy the journey!” “Don’t wait to be happy!” “Live in the moment!”
Those all sound nice and make for pretty, inspirational Instagram quotes. But if hearing “enjoy the journey” was all it took to change your whole mentality, we’d all be blissed-out gurus by now.
What’s missing from these hackneyed phrases is the real, deeper reason why it’s so important to focus on enjoying the process of getting to the destination, as well as how to actually do that.
So that’s what we’re getting into this week.
THE TRAP WE ALL FALL INTO
Most people assume that, no matter how unhappy they are now, once they get whatever it is they most want, a switch will flip in their mind and they’ll instantly go from miserable to ecstatic.
But it doesn’t work like that.
Whatever emotion you feel most often becomes your natural default. So if you’ve practiced feeling annoyed or impatient or dissatisfied, then that’s your “home base,” and you’ll keep coming back to it over and over, no matter how much your outer circumstances change.
Sure, you’ll have moments of joy, but they’ll be short-lived because soon you’ll drift right back to your emotional set point.
Think of someone you know (and we all know someone like this) who’s never satisfied. No matter how much she achieves or how much goes well in his life, they’re always complaining. These people have practiced feeling dissatisfied so much that it’s become their default setting, and they can’t shake it, even when they get all the things they said they wanted.
FINDING YOUR PASSION IS NOT A CURE-ALL
One of the biggest ways this shows up, at least for most people I talk to, is around wanting to find your passion and have a fulfilling career.
I hear things all the time like, “It feels like my job is draining the life out of me. But I know that once I have a clear direction, I’ll feel energized again.”
Or, “I hardly recognize myself anymore. I feel like I’m always moody, negative, frustrated, and tired. I’m desperate to find my dream job so I can be happy again.”
It’s perfectly understandable why so many people feel this way. Of course you want a clear sense of direction and to find your dream job. I want those things for you, too!
Which is why I feel compelled to point out two big flaws in this way of thinking (and then give you a better strategy):
- When you’re in a negative mindset, it’s like you’re wearing negative glasses and everything you look at is tainted. You’re literally blocked from connecting with your passion. In that state of mind, even if you did stumble upon your dream job, you probably wouldn’t recognize it or you’d be too drained and skeptical to go after it.
- If by some chance you do manage to land in a career that’s exciting to you, you won’t be able to maintain your enthusiasm because you haven’t changed your emotional set point. So within a few weeks or months, you’ll default right back to feeling uninspired and restless.
LET’S ADD IN SOME JOY
The cure is to find a way to enjoy at least some small part of the experience of getting to where you want to be.
If you can bring even a tiny bit of joy to the process, not only will you feel better along the way, but you’ll be able to maintain the feeling of satisfaction once you finally reach your goal because you’ve practiced feeling joy.
That is how you raise your emotional set point.
I’m not asking you to never feel impatient or frustrated or discouraged along the way. That would be impossible. You’re human, and it’s normal to have days when you lose hope and feel like it’s all too much.
I’m just asking you to find some small way to enjoy the process just a tiny bit more than you currently are, for the sake of your current and future happiness.
STOP PUTTING YOUR LIFE ON HOLD
My client Cara is a perfect example. She’s been stressing herself out for years trying to find her ideal career path, and getting more and more discouraged with every new job that’s still not quite right.
She’s been putting things off until she “gets her life figured out” — things like taking long walks on the beach and reading books just for pleasure and taking a painting class she’s been eyeing for years.
She felt like she didn’t have time for those things because all of her spare time needed to go toward researching different career paths and applying for new jobs.
Last week, however, she told me she’s tired of putting her life on hold. She wants to start really living now, instead of waiting until she lands her dream job to enjoy her life.
So, she drastically changed her job search strategy. Instead of reactively applying for jobs when she’s feeling hopeless and frantic, she’s only searching/applying when she feels inspired and positive. Plus, she just signed up for that painting class. She’s feeling excited and hopeful for the first time in possibly years.
That is how you raise your emotional set point. And that’s how you attract, maintain, and fully enjoy the things you want most in life.
When you focus on your happiness now (instead of waiting around for happiness to show up one day in the future), you become more open, curious, hopeful, and receptive to possibilities. You’re more likely to take chances, and you’re more positive in conversations, cover letters, and interviews.
Essentially, you become more attractive to other positive things, people, and opportunities.
A SUREFIRE WAY TO ENJOY THE JOURNEY AND THE DESTINATION
There are countless ways you can bring more joy into the process of reaching your goals and dreams. For Cara, the combination of working with a coach, freeing up her non-working hours, and taking a painting class has made a huge difference.
For you, it might mean spending more time with friends and family, booking a few extra weekend getaways, taking a class just for fun, or saying “no” to more things to put some much-needed white space on your calendar.
If you’re looking for a way to enjoy the journey AND get clear on your direction all in one, you may want to consider joining us for the Passion Plan Virtual Experience.
In the PPVE, we not only walk you through the steps of finding your passion and having a fulfilling life and career … we make the process as supportive and enjoyable as possible.
Part of the PPVE process is to help you upgrade your emotional set point so you can start feeling better now. Plus, you’re going through the figuring-it-out process with a group of people who are all in the same boat as you, so you feel supported, understood, encouraged, and inspired along the way.
If you want to join us, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- We’re capping enrollment at 50 people! We have a handful of spots left as of this morning.
- Enrollment will end tomorrow (Wednesday, February 7th) OR whenever we hit 50 people.
- The course gets started this Thursday (February 8th).
- We only run this program twice per year.We’ll be doing it again in the fall.
- You can split your payment in two, if you want.
If this feels right for you, I hope you’ll join us! And either way, I’d love to hear how you plan to bring a little more joy into the process of reaching your goals. Share with me, in the comment below!
Kristen (& Rachel)
What if you are in a great mood and the second you start a job search, you immediately are drained and become depressed? No matter what I look at, I can never feel anything while searching for a job. I wish I didn’t have to work at all lately. It’s so depressing.
I feel you on that — job searching can definitely be draining! If every time you sit down to job search, you instantly feel depressed and hopeless, maybe it’s worth trying a totally different approach.
I have a client who is focusing 90% of her job search efforts into 1-on-1 conversations with people in fields she’s interested in. At the end of each conversation, she asks, “So who should I talk to next?” That way, she’s constantly finding out about great opportunities and making connections with people who can put in a good word for her. She’s already gotten multiple job offers, and she’s done next-to-no online job searching.
Maybe that approach (or another strategy altogether) could make the whole process feel a lot better to you.