Goals are great, right? They help us focus, give us purpose, and give us something to work for. But, there can be a dark underbelly of too much goal setting.
When you set a goal in your life, especially a goal for financial independence, it’s easy to let it take over your life. Sometimes, we get so caught up in what’s next that we forget about what’s now. We’re so focused on our future happiness (because why else are we setting the goal, after all?) that we forget about our present happiness. So what’s the magic balance?
I read a book this weekend that brought the idea of getting too caught up in the future into clear focus.
The author, Tal Ben-Shahar, who wrote the book Happier, has come up with a quadrant of four archetypes for how people approach happiness.
Some people enjoy the present, to their future detriment. They live for the moment, indulging in rich food and drink that will later cause weight gain and fatigue. They engage in behaviors that bring them pleasure now, like watching TV, with little regard to future costs, like not having their work done. These people he calls Hedonists.
The second archetype subordinates the present for the future. She goes through life thinking, “I’ll work hard and get good grades now, so I can go to a good college.” Then in college, she does the same thing, in order to get a good job. She secures a job she doesn’t like, just to make a lot of money and buy fancy cars and houses. She subjugates her present happiness, year after year, for some mythical future happiness that never arrives. This type of person he calls a Rat Racer. Continue reading “Goal Setting, Rat Racers, and Happiness: What’s the Magic Balance?”