May 18

I have to constantly fight my most powerful temptation: Believing happiness is just around the corner. “Everything will be perfect when ….”.

It’s like I’m waiting for the movie of my life to begin instead of realizing that I’m already living it. What I’m experiencing right now is my life. Not what I imagine my life to be like in five years.

Right now, I find myself waiting for these things in order to relax and be ‘happy’ …

  1. Moving to Portland and getting settled in our house
  2. Hitting $100m in yearly revenue at Treehouse. We’re currently at $3.1m so I want to increase our growth dramatically
  3. Hitting ‘comfortable’ profitability at Treehouse. I’d set this bar at 50-70% net profit margin. We can aim high because there is no additional cost for each new customer once we reach profitability.
  4. Being able to sleep in till 8am on Friday - Sunday. We’ve got a 4-year old boy and a 1-year old boy so we never get to sleep past 6:45am
  5. Being independently wealthy. Having enough money saved so that the income from the investment could cover my monthly costs
  6. Having a good set of friends in Portland who I consistently hang out with 
  7. Launching a big update to Treehouse (top secret but you’re going to love it, trust me :D)

The power and pain of setting goals

I was raised with a goal-setting mentality. Every New Year, we’d sit down as a family and talk about our goals in these areas:

  1. Mental - School, reading books, playing trumpet and piano, etc
  2. Physical - I played a lot of sports when I was younger (Basketball, Tennis, Baseball, Soccer)
  3. Spiritual - I was a very devoted Christian for the first 25 years of my life (I even went on mission trips to try to convert people)

I’m extremely thankful to my parents for training me to set goals and strive to reach them. I’d say that practice has played an important role in any success I’ve achieved in life.

However, setting goals also has encouraged me to always be looking towards the next thing and never truly being happy where I’m at.

How I battle the Demon

I’ve found the following tactics to be the most effective in fighting off the temptation to believe happiness is just one goal away …

  1. Listen to music. I’ve found that the beauty (and sadness) of my own life is revealed by listening to music. For example, while I’m playing with the kids I’ll turn on a soundtrack to a movie I love. This helps me see the moment for what it is: extraordinary and special.
  2. Make a list of the good things. Whenever I have a quiet moment to myself, I list all the things in my life that are amazing. This often very quickly reveals that I’ve got a ton to be happy about and that I don’t need to wait for anything else.
  3. Imagine life after the goal. I often think about what my daily routine will be like after I would’ve achieved a big goal. Often, I realize nothing fundamental will have changed. I’m already happy so I don’t need to wait for that goal in order to find fulfillment.
[Edit] After reading a lot of the comments, I need to clarify: I feel 100% happy now. I simply have to battle the temptation to believe that I could be happier if I achieved my next goal. It’s more about realizing that goals are just another part of the adventure of life.

Please share your tips for battling this temptation as well. Thanks!

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