Happiness PRECEDES Success

I am a podcaster, speaker and author in the area of self-leadership: the intentional act of creating your freedom, your life, your way.

May 11, 2022

For most of our lives, we’ve been misled by conventional wisdom that tells us that we will be happy once we are successful. Not only has this been debunked by researchers, but it leads us in the wrong direction. This is one of the 5 traps that successful sales professionals confront in creating a full life while having a high achieving career. This month we are going to focus on this one because it causes so much damage to both our careers and our personal lives.

We tell ourselves things like:

“I’ll be happy when . . .”

“Things will be better when . . . “

“I’ll feel successful when. . . “

“I’ll feel good about myself when . . .”

When we take a closer look, we are holding our happiness hostage. By defining our happiness only through goals and outcomes, we have attached our happiness to achieving the outcomes. We refuse to be happy until the problem is solved, or the achievement is complete. Then, when we finally do hit the goal, what we usually feel is relief, not true happiness, and that feeling is fleeting. That’s why we feel like we are always moving the goal post on ourselves.

Nearly every high achiever has fallen prey to this. Because we are achievement oriented, we are good at sacrificing the short-term for long-term gain. This is why we can set a goal and hit it. Even when the work is hard. Unfortunately, it leads us to put our happiness on hold. It becomes a hostage of someday. The problem is that someday doesn’t show up on our calendars.

This trap is like shooting ourselves in the foot – TWICE!

  1. We put our happiness on hold
  2. We are sabotaging our own success

The first one is self-explanatory.

The second one goes against most of what we’ve been taught. But the neuroscience and leading researchers at Harvard, Stanford and UPENN (among many others) in the field of positive psychology are very definitive on this point:

Happiness drives success – not the other way around.

In fact, hundreds of studies have proven that happy people are

  • More productive
  • More effective
  • Outsold their peers in a control group by 40%
  • Better negotiators
  • More creative
  • More intrinsically motivated

And that’s only a few of the benefits.

How to get out of this trap:

There’s a little good news/bad news: the good news is that happiness can be built and there are many ways to go about that. The bad news is that there are many ways to go about that, which means that there is no silver bullet. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t make progress on this. This is why a coach is helpful for many people: a coach can help you find the right approach for you, faster, with less trial and error (which, for busy professionals, is sometimes a painful expenditure of time that you don’t have).

Instead of listing out dozens of things to try, here are 3 of my favorites:

  1. Set approach goals, not avoid goals.Essentially, does the goal that you have set help you approach something desirable rather than avoid something negative. Approach goals have been proven to be far more effective and lead to greater levels of happiness. And they are more motivating.
  2. Set Activity-based goals, not outcome-based goals. The problem with outcome-based goals is that science has shown that once we hit the desired outcome, we quickly adapt to that new outcome. Its happiness is very short-lived. For example, a raise in salary is only a raise for 30 days before we stop thinking of it as a raise and it’s merely our salary.

Activity-based goals allow us to focus on and enjoy the process because it allows us to experience and conquer new challenges and opportunities and to grow.

Researchers have proven that activity-based goals provide far more happiness than outcome-based goals.

  1. Practice Optimism. This does NOT mean pretending that everything is rosy or faking positivity. That’s not optimism; that’s pretending.

There are 2 things you need to know about optimism:

  1. It can be learned and strengthened.
  2. It has been proven that sales people higher in optimism are 37% more effective at sales.

One of the best optimism exercises is to actively seek the gift in seemingly difficult situations (this does not apply to grieving the loss of a loved one), by asking yourself questions like:

  • What is something that I will learn from this that will make me better in the future?
  • How will this experience change me for the better?
  • A year from now, what would it take for me to look back at this and say, this was a positive turning point for me?

Again, there are dozens of proven happiness boosting activities that you can try. These are just 3 of the ones that work well for me. If these don’t resonate for you and you’d like some other ideas, shoot me an email at bk@kahlercoaching.com and I’m happy to share some others that have worked well for our clients.

I’m super excited to announce that we are creating our Sales Manager’s Mental Fitness Edge pilot cohort where you will learn:

  1. Which saboteurs are most active for you and how they are holding you back. (Saboteurs are our automatic patterns of thinking, feeling and acting and they keep us from breaking through to new levels of happiness and performance.)
  2. Exactly how much they are limiting your performance
  3. How to quiet them so that you can respond to any stress, challenge or opportunity with greater ease and resilience
  4. How to respond to respond to life’s challenges with a positive mental mindset rather than a negative, neutral or stressed mindset. And this has been proven to be the difference between top performers and average performers across professions (including top sales people, leaders and professional athletes).

If you are interested send me a message for details.  As this is our pilot cohort, we are offering a one-time 20% discount. The cohort is limited to 6 people.

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