Michael in Growth 10 minutes

Achievable Contentment

“You’re doing great here, and you’re an asset to what we’re doing. We think you have a bright future with us.” My boss was obviously happy with my performance and was telling me about it in no uncertain terms.

“That’s great, and I appreciate it, but when will I get promoted to Software Architect?”

I wanted more than anything at that point in my career to be a Software Architect. The title comes with respect, a great salary, and a leadership position within a software development organization. Most people who knew my goal never questioned its efficacy.

…But I now see that it was the wrong goal.

A good goal is one that delivers what it promises: contentment and happiness.

The contentment I envisioned after getting the promotion very quickly became discontentment wrapped around another, bigger goal. All of the sudden I wanted to be a Senior Software Architect. And then more. And more. This is insanity.

There is a better way: goals that lead to contentment. Some examples:

You'll never be content with having But you will be content with
The next promotion Doing work that matters and being fairly rewarded for it
A big raise Spending less than you make, whatever it is
A new luxury car A car you can afford
The spouse of your dreams A marriage based on love, acceptance, and peace

In the left column, everything seems so deceptively simple. “All I want is a Mercedes.” Well, yes, but what happens when you get the Mercedes? What then? The left side is one in which you never end up at a destination. You are always striving, always anxious, always gunning for the next thing.

The left column is a series of steps in life that all follow a commonly accepted pattern of “going for the next thing”, but arriving nowhere important. These goals ultimately lead to misery and despair once one inevitably finds this out.

What’s strange is that no one questions this path to success, even though there are so many examples of burned out, depressed, unhappy people who have followed it.

A better definition of success is on the right side. These are achievable goals, not in a few years but right now. The goals aren’t as measurable, and those around you won’t notice them as much as they would a new Mercedes. However, they deliver what they promise: achievable contentment.

Success is achievable contentment through goals that have an end to them. The end of a truly success-oriented goal isn’t another goal. It is contentment and peace.

What are your goals? Where will they lead?