Tag Archives: life satisfaction

Follow Your Passion & Fly

Check out the new Charlie EpsteinKilling Retirement podcast to learn how to get the job of your dreams.

Show Notes

The second episode of “Killing Retirement” digs deep into the question: “what do you want to do with your life?” and (more importantly) WHY? Joanie’s focusing on the group of parents she calls “helicopter parents” and the children that come from that parenting style.

Guest: Dr. Joanie Connell

Quote of the ‘Cast: “I’m finding a lot of people that get to the workplace and they weren’t as happy as they thought they would be because their helicoptering parents and teachers have been promising them that there’s a wonderful light at the end of the tunnel after they work so hard during their childhood. They get out there and find that they’re at the bottom of the ladder in the corporate world. They’re not having these amazing jobs that they thought they would have and very dissatisfied that the work is a little bit more boring than they thought it would be a lot of times, more tedious, and just not prepared to do these kinds of things because their parents have been helping them out so much as they grew up.”

It’s OK to Be OK

okWhen did it stop being OK to be OK? Now it’s great, wonderful, amazing, stellar, and even epic. Epic. Really? What does epic even mean, anyway? Heroic and monumental are some of the definitions from standard dictionaries. The Odyssey is a classic example. The Urban Dictionary defines it as “the most overused word ever, next to fail.” Overused is exactly my point—for all these words, except OK.

My daughter skipped and twirled across the lawn and did a cartwheel at the end. “Ta da!” She said. “Wasn’t that amazing?” She asked, beaming ear-to-ear. I had to be honest with her. “That was cool, but I wouldn’t call it amazing.” Do you think I’m a bad parent? I think it’s better to keep it real than to puff her up to believe she’s bigger than life.

It gets dizzying and meaningless when everything is awesome. People become numb and turn to drugs to keep the buzz from wearing off and to keep reality from creeping in. The stress of having to constantly outdo oneself and others leads people to engage in risky behaviors, both in youth and adults.

Let’s face it; most of us really are OK at most things. We may excel at something, but, compared to the rest of the humans on earth, we’re in the middle of the pack. And that’s OK! It’s OK to aspire to have a middle class life. We don’t need to try to be the best or to make millions. Really, it’s OK to have a solid job and have a decent life. Maybe get married, maybe have a family. That’s OK too. And it’s OK not to.

smiley faceLook around you. Most of the people around you are OK. Yes, there are a very rare few in the media who have mansions and insanely lavish lifestyles, but most people don’t. Not to worry. Research shows that having more money doesn’t make you happier, once you have enough to cover the basics. It’s interesting, because most parents say their most important wish for their children is for them to be happy. Voila. You don’t need to pressure them to be the best. It’s OK to be OK.

What Is Success?

measuring successHow do you measure up?

“What’s your number?” One executive asks another, engaging in the not-so-subtle competition of whose is bigger. I am a woman so I don’t get asked this question very often. Rather, it’s about my children. “How [successful] are your kids?” That’s the prototypical question for moms. The list goes on and on depending on who and where you are in life—grandchildren, job title, cars, jewelry, sports, sexual conquests, you name it.

Social Comparison Theory suggests that we compare ourselves to others to evaluate ourselves. That sounds like a reasonable goal, but it often turns into a competition to allow us to feel good about ourselves. We strive for self enhancement by “one upping”—saying that we’ve done something better than the other person. It can be a faster car, a bigger house, a higher salary, or a kid in a better college. The SNL character, Penelope, provides an exaggerated example, which is extremely funny to watch.

What are you measuring?

money weighing you downThe point is not necessarily how you measure on these comparisons, but what measures you are using. More precisely, whose measures are you using? Yours? Theirs? Society’s? Your parent’s? If you’re like most of us, you find yourself getting tricked into being measured on someone else’s scale.

I was in a meeting to plan the next Berrett-Koehler Marketing Workshop and we grappled with the question of what it means to be a successful author. Is it the number of books sold? The amount of money made from book sales? The quantity of business generated as a result of writing the book? The impact made on society from the book’s message? Fame? Or simply the fulfillment of a lifelong dream of writing a book? It really depends on what the author defines as success (which may be different from the publisher’s definition).

How do you define success?

helping holding handsIn the end, success boils down to how you define it. As we progress through life, we tend to realize that other people’s definitions of success don’t necessarily resonate with our own ideals. Laura Garnett asked several successful CEOs to state their definitions of success in a recent article in Inc. They vary widely and include such things as accomplishments, impact on the world, happiness, family, helping others, balance, fulfillment, and legacy. What is your definition of success?

Here are four questions to ask yourself to help you define success in your own terms.
  1. What are your core values? What do you need to do to be true to them?
  2. What’s important in your life?
  3. What legacy would you like to leave?
  4. When you are 90 and looking back on your life what would you like to say? What would you regret not having done?

I’d love to hear what you define as success and other questions you ask yourself to come to your definition.

To Have or Have Not

shoppingBy Joanie Connell

Have you thought about how ironic it is that Black Friday falls the day after Thanksgiving? One minute we’re appreciating what we have and the next we find ourselves seething for what we want. For some of us, it’s a game to win, for others, it’s getting stuff we wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The New York Times had a photo of someone buying a 50” screen TV at sunrise on Friday and a quote from another person saying she didn’t need any of what she bought but she got a kick out of the great deals.

Have you ever thought about how much all these savings cost us?

  • Buying more for less causes us all to have to work harder. To produce more for less, companies have to hire people for lower wages and make them work harder for every dollar earned. We all know what it’s like in organizations these days, having to generate higher profits by spending less, laying people off and requiring the remaining ones to do the work of 2-3 employees. This is clearly not good for people who value balance in their lives.
  • Collecting more stuff is creates more work for us to get rid of it all. What do we do with all this stuff when we don’t want it anymore? We throw it away! Even charities don’t want lots of the junk people are getting rid of today. While it’s good for the waste management sector, we are paying the costs of managing the waste that companies and households generate—through higher taxes, higher costs of goods, lower salaries, and longer hours worked. Obviously, waste is not only a cost for us, but for Mother Earth as well.
  • Wanting more makes us feel less satisfied. Research shows that materialistic people are less happy than non-materialistic people. When you constantly want more and do not appreciate what you have, you feel shortchanged, envious, resentful, unfulfilled, and so on. These are not healthy feelings and buying more won’t make them go away.

With all these costs, the question remains as to whether the benefits are worth it. It may well be a situation in which less is more. Owning fewer things lets us better appreciate what we have. For example, owning one doll makes that doll special. Owning a collection of dolls makes each one just a part of the collection and creates a desire for more every time a new one comes out. During this shopping season, consider having less to achieve more happiness.