Why ‘happiness’ is not the answer

Let me ask you something. When somebody asks you ‘What do you want to do [with your life]?’ or ‘What are your goals?’ does your brain automatically turn to mashed potato for a few seconds before scrambling some sort of conclusion based on some sort of logic that your goal is to be happy? Or something along those lines anyway…

Well I’m here to tell you that’s the wrong answer. Or rather, it’s the wrong question.

It has come to my attention recently, after trying the ‘career path’ twice, and completely ditching it twice for exactly the same reasons, that the question should be ‘What would excite you?’

Woah, game changer. Those initial questions were far too vague in hindsight, right? All of a sudden, the lens is zoomed and we’ve honed in on the nitty gritty of life. What makes us tick. What gets the heart racing, the adrenaline pumping and the after-thought of I wanna do that again!

Why on earth did I leave a great graduate job with huge potential to climb the corporate ladder to work as a ski rep in Europe when I had never stepped into a pair of skis in my entire life?! Because the thought of it excited me.

Why didn’t I go home after discovering that ski boots were ridiculously uncomfortable and I actually didn’t like skiing at all? Because I started watching the snowboarders, and the thought of that excited me.

Why oh why, did I go back to snowboarding after fracturing my spinal vertebrae, partially tearing a ligament in my knee, and severely damaging my pride on my second (yes, second) winter season? Because, I knew I could do bigger and better jumps next time- and with more style too. And that thought excited me.

And why did I go back to a corporate job, on more money than the previous job, with more creative scope and lots of influence in the direction that particular department could go? Well, I don’t know why I did that, but I know why I left! Because the thought of travel, teaching and sports in the Italian alps excited me more than 9-5 enslavement in a barbed-wire surrounded office. I’m not joking. There was actual barbed wire.

Two weeks of being horizontal and (literally) shitting the bed later…. this was me standing up for the first time after fracturing my back.

And where am I now? Well, I’m in Queenstown, New Zealand. Often, I have more free time than I know what to do with. I live 20 minutes away from the nearest ski field, I snowboard at least twice a week, I go to gym classes that I love, I see my friends (old and new) every week and I am always being faced with new and exciting opportunities. Just today I was invited to an All Blacks game in a nearby city. And why do I have all this? Because the thought of it excited me in the first place. And guess what, when something excites me- I’m going to have it. I soon realised in those offices that trading my valuable time (and most physically youthful years) for money was not a good investment. Now, I always choose what excites me most and use this as my internal compass.

The cogs are turning, and the question is always the same…

‘What will excite me next?’

Despite threats from my 92 year old great grandmother since hurting myself, that she’s going to bash my snowboard around my head… I still find myself reaching new heights (literally and metaphorically) in the snow park every week

So ditch the fear. Excitement and fear can be confused. Maybe you get excitement then fear. But the brain can’t tell the difference so just tell yourself your excited- and get out there and make it happen.

Inspired by this post? Write to me, and tell me ‘What would excite you?’ and I will share some in my next post.


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