Why do you do what you do? The obvious answer here is for food and shelter. That’s too easy, you could do many things that would provide enough for the necessities in life. Why did you choose to do what you spend the majority of your life doing? Another question, why do you choose to do what you do with your spare time? Why do you pick the hobbies you have? For me the answer is pretty straight forward. It’s for the reward. The reward is that feeling you get when you’ve accomplished something you’ve worked for. I’m not talking about easy day to day things. I’m talking about accomplishing things you’ve struggled with or had to put some effort into. In a work sense, I love solving big problems and making seemingly complex ideas appear simple and straight forward. In regards to hobbies, I love the feeling of completing an especially long run or some other physical accomplishment. As goofy as it sounds and on a smaller scale, finishing mowing the lawn or finishing shoveling snow does the trick. That sense of accomplishment is an amazing thing.
I think seeking out that sense of accomplishment is the secret to happiness. The feeling we’re talking about isn’t something that happens every day, but it is something that we can take steps toward every day. Taking those steps, being aware of the goal, and being cognizant of the process brings joy. Knowing that what you’re doing today is part of something you want gives your day purpose. Having that purpose and being aware of it makes all the difference in my eyes. That’s what brings about happiness.
I’ve found that taking this viewpoint in figuring out your day is incredibly useful. For example, this past two weeks I’ve been doing really well with getting out and running. I’m searching out that feeling of reward. I’ve also taken this into account at work. Emails are piling up, requests for help continue to come in, but we’ve got big things we need to accomplish. I set up my calendar so I can spend some time on those day to day activities that need to be done, but then I also block out time for those big ticket projects that are going to make serious and lasting impact. When I know some time is going to be spent every day doing something that is going to have that impact, it makes it a little easier to get excited for the day. In general it makes it a bit easier to get up in the morning knowing that I’m going to take some time early to think about the big things I want to accomplish. Even if those “big” things are runs or some other seemingly insignificant thing, if it breaks you out of the gravitational pull of complacency, it’s a big thing! All this isn’t to say that you’re going to make positive progress toward a goal every day. Some days you’re going to have a bad run or workout. Some days you’re going to look at a problem and be more confused at the end of the day than you were at the beginning. Taking that step backwards doesn’t matter. As long as you look to take the next one after the setback, you’re going to be just fine. If anything, those steps backward make the reward that much sweeter.