When you build your life with the mindset that you have enough and make your goals from this perspective, you can start everyday from a place of satisfaction.
If, on the other hand, you begin with wanting something more, then that yearning puts you in state of dissatisfaction.
Certainly having desires is natural, we all have them, but it’s how much attention you give to the final result that’s important. That’s where balance comes in.
Let’s start by looking at this idea that in order to achieve more you need to have really big ambitious goals and achieve success.
My friends father life-long dream was to build a house when he retired. He had to find the right area, the plot, design the house, source materials, hire contractors and do some of the labour himself. It was an ambitious goal.
There were many setbacks along the way and as his focus was always on the final outcome it made him miserable.
Also, at the same time, his wife, who he adored, became ill. Because he was so caught up in his project, he failed to see, or denied, that she had Alzheimer’s disease. By the time he was finished building his dream house it was too late for her to enjoy their retirement together.
While it’s true that ambition can be motivating, it’s not satisfying. That’s because the rewards you get internally from your body’s nervous and hormonal systems just don’t last for long. If a house takes two or three years from start to finish, and all you’re focused on is the end product, that’s a long time before you’ll get rewarded.
The way your body works, when you feel a sense of achievement you get a reward through your nervous system and hormones. Then you want more of that reward once the hormones wear off. It’s survival, if we could stay satisfied for a long time, we’d be less likely to be motivated to take steps like finding food.
We’re all programed to want another reward within a day of getting what you want, so you have to set your sights on the next goal and achieve it.
If you don’t get regular rewards, the longer this cycle is and the harder it is to keep motivated and stay happy, and the less productive you’ll be.
The good news is you can activate your body’s reward system with small wins everyday, so planning to get daily wins will help you to feel rewarded, which feels wonderful. You do this by breaking down you goals into the smallest steps you can.
The beauty of it is that all big successes are made up of small steps anyway.
When my friend’s dad was building the house, if he had acknowledged and celebrated every step along the way, he would have spent more time with his wife and enjoyed the process more. He can’t regain those lost years now which would have given him so much more than an empty house to live in.
(He did have a happy and fulfilling life in many ways by the way, this is just a piece of life which could have been better).
Whether your writing a book, looking for new purpose, or doing your job, taking a few moments to high five someone or do a little happy dance every time you complete a task will activate that internal reward system and keep you feeling happy and satisfied.
You’ll be less driven and anxious and stay healthier too.
Break down goals into the small steps you can take daily to be contented. Make sure you’re sharing and connected to the ones you love and prioritize that over wealth or possessions. Build in self-care as a daily goal too- your health is your wealth!
When you start by working on a state of mind in which you have enough you do have enough! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing or feel your purpose is, it’s enough right now.
Francie Adamson is a Yoga Therapist and Health Coach
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