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How to set clear objectives
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"Your overall satisfaction with life certainly matters. But you create meaningful change in moments and days, not years and decades. It is easier to improve your own happiness — and the well-being of others — when you focus on doing it right now. Taking small, meaningful actions today is the best way to make changes. And eventually, these small changes will lead to important long-term outcomes."
Three key conditions differentiate days when you have a full charge from typical days:
Creating meaning is an evolutionary process that grows by the day, as opposed to a grand purpose that suddenly falls in your lap.
Small wins generate meaningful progress. You might create a small positive charge for one of your customers today or work on a new product that will benefit people in the future. Over the weekend, maybe you’ll have a long conversation with a loved one that makes a difference. It is these little moments, not grand actions, that create substance and meaning.
"The pursuit of meaning — not happiness — is what makes life worthwhile."
Pursuing happiness for loved ones or for your community is a worthwhile goal. But trying to create happiness for yourself can have the opposite effect.
The more value you place on your own happiness, the more likely you are to feel lonely on a daily basis. Seeking your own happiness and nothing else results in feelings of futility. But if you spend as much time creating meaningful interactions as you do pursuing happiness, you will be better off in both areas.
While there is some overlap, the differences have clear implications for how people spend their time.
“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to ‘be happy.'"
Meaningful work is driven by intrinsic, rather than extrinsic, motivation.
"Meaning does not happen to you — you create it. One of the most important elements of building a great career and life is attaching what you do each day to a broader mission."
The future of work lies in redefining it as doing something that makes a difference each day. Work is about productively applying your talent.
A healthy relationship between an employee and an organization starts with a shared mission, meaning, or purpose. A 2013 study of more than 12,000 workers worldwide found that employees who derive meaning and understand the importance of their work are more than three times as likely to stay with an organization.
"You create meaning when your strengths and interests meet the needs of the world. Knowing your talents and passions is critical, but that is only half of this supply-and-demand equation. What may be even more important is understanding what the world needs from you and how you can productively apply your strengths and interests."
One of the downfalls of the “follow your passion” advice is that it assumes that putting your own passion and happiness at the center of your world is what leads to meaning, fulfillment and joy. That is often not the case.
Those who make a profound difference, in contrast, begin by asking what they can give. Starting with this question allows you to direct your talents toward what matters most for others.
"The only shadow you should live in is your own. You were born with unique traits and influenced by people who helped you become what you are today. To do justice to those who have invested in you, the challenge is to live the life you want."
The result of trying to be busy is a poorly managed life. If you are busy throughout the day and bouncing from one thing to the next, you’re probably not focusing on constructive activity.
You are also probably not giving your full attention to the things that matter most, from working to spending time with your family.
What’s even more disturbing is that this is not pleasant mind wandering; instead, the distractedness tends to make them less happy.
We need at least three to five positive interactions to outweigh every one negative exchange. Bad moments simply outweigh good ones.
Whether you’re having a one-on-one conversation with a colleague or a group discussion, keep this simple shortcut in mind: At least 80 percent of your conversations should be focused on what’s going right.
The best way to produce sustainable increases in well-being is to appreciate what you already have and to continue creating new positive experiences with the people who matter most.
When you value what you already have, not only will you grow, you won’t feel the angst of wanting more. Any time you create experiences in the context of your existing resources and relationships, it has a compounding effect on your well-being.
Doing things for others and living a life of meaning is important. But without energy, you can’t do your best work.
If you want to make a difference for years to come, you have to put your health and energy first.
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Michael Bungay Stanier
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