The following is a guest post. It is a rebut to my recent post about sacrificing work life balance for business.
Our appetite for success is necessary to reach our goals and dreams but it can also hurt our happiness.
We all have a vision of what we want our future to be.
“I will make X dollar every month” “I will be financially free” “I will run my own business” “I will live in a big house and drive a sports car” “I will travel the world” “I will be debt-free”…
And that’s great because we need a vision to accomplish our dreams. That’s what we’ve been trained to think. “If you want to be successful be ambitious, be bold and determine what you want.”
Read also: 3 steps to realize your wildest dreams
The problem is that it’s also very dysfunctional, if you postpone your happiness to the future.
This is what the entrepreneurship coach Dan Sullivan call the Gap.
The Gap is the period during which you delay your happiness in the present until you reach your objective. In this Gap you tell yourself things like:
“I am going to be happy when this happen” “ I am going to open this bottle of Champagne when that happen” “I am going to celebrate when I reach X goal”
When you think that way you tend to feel more anxious, frustrated and miserable and even when you attain the future you dreamed about, you feel unfulfilled. As a result you create another set of goals for another future, which once again will postpone your happiness.
To stop this nonsense, Dan Sullivan recommends reversing the Gap.
Rather than constantly focusing on your future, remind yourself regularly of where you were 2 years ago. What did your life look like? What was your career like? How were you? And when you think about that, celebrate how much you’ve come in the last 2 years.
You need to train yourself not to only think about the future but to also celebrate what you’ve accomplished in the past. Pay attention to your “reverse gap” the period during which you had successes but also difficulties that you’ve overcome. That’s how you create happiness and gratitude in the now.
Many studies have shown the benefits of maintaining gratitude on a daily basis. One of them carried out by Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California and Dr. Michael McCullough of the University of Miami, has proved than gratitude increase our optimism and our health.
In the study they asked one group to write every day about what they were grateful for and another group to write about their daily irritations. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. They even tended to exercise more.
See also the Science of Happiness: an experiment in gratitude
Here are some ideas to be more grateful and avoid “the Gap”:
Write on a regular basis what you are grateful for: You don’t need to write it everyday. You will experience the same benefits by doing this exercise 3 times a week.
Remember the bad: When you remember the hard times that you once experienced you instantly create a contrast with your present situation, which helps you feel grateful.
Practice mindfulness or meditation: With practice it will allow you to find a balance between the present and your desire to reach your goals.
Now I want to know, have you ever felt that “Gap” in your life? Do you practice gratitude on a regular basis? I would love to hear what you have to say in the comments below.