Why True Happiness Is Not Just About Reaching Your Goals

“Success isn’t about how your life looks to others. It’s about how it feels to you.” ~Michelle Obama

Do you have goals? Why do you have these goals? What will change if you accomplish them?

Will you be happy?

Think about this for a second: You’ve already achieved goals that you said would make you happy.


Think about that again.

You’ve already achieved goals that you said would make you happy.

Well, that’s a humbling reality check, isn’t it? So why aren’t you experiencing everlasting happiness and satisfaction?

No matter the goal’s size, the reward level, or the amount of success achieved, it all passes in the blink of an eye.

Wherever you go, there you are, my friend.

Actress Emma Watson, known for her role in the Harry Potter series, said, “I’ve realized that the success I’ve been seeking is not the success I want. I’m no longer sure what my own ambitions are or what success even means.”

Singer-songwriter Justin Bieber said, “I’m a person who has feelings and I’m sensitive. All these things that people think are wonderful, it’s like, I don’t even know what this means. I just want to be happy.”

Entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss said, “The 4-Hour Work Week was a runaway success, but it didn’t make me happy. In fact, it made me more stressed out and miserable than ever before. I realized that true happiness comes from doing work that you love, not from achieving external success.”

In his autobiography Open, Tennis player Andre Agassi wrote about his realization after winning his first Wimbledon title: “I thought it would be the greatest moment of my life, but it wasn’t. I felt empty. Winning Wimbledon was just another step in the journey.”

Musician John Mayer said, “I thought that if I had a hit record, I’d finally be happy. But then I had a hit record, and I was still the same guy with all the same problems. I had to learn that happiness comes from within, not from external achievements.”

Every single one of these people struggled because their identity became tied to external validation.

No longer were they pursuing their craft for the love and passion they once had; the unhealthy relationship with the goal made it an ugly means to an end that left them feeling directionless.

If you want to remain happy, give yourself a process that creates enjoyment.

It’s the progress we make toward the goal that makes us happy. It’s living up to our potential.

It’s doing something that makes your life feel like it matters. It’s the decision to make something a priority in your life. This is the only thing that will change your life.

There’s nothing you can buy or achieve that leads to everlasting happiness.

Every job is a joke in comparison to raising a child. There’s not even a close second.

Parenting cannot be mastered like a skill acquired by a mechanic because there is no set formula or blueprint for raising a child. Every child is unique, and the challenges and joys of parenting are constantly changing.

Unlike a skill that can be honed through practice and experience, parenting requires adaptability, patience, and a deep understanding of each child’s individual needs and development. Every parent is navigating the journey of parenting without a definitive manual, learning and growing alongside their child.

Put simply: Every parent is hanging on for dear life. You’re simply along for the ride.

Yet, it’s given me the most joy I’ve ever had.

And this is from a guy who once popped MDMA like they were candies from his grandma’s purse: there’s no delight more unspoiled than the cascade of dopamine that drenches your mind, a waterfall of ecstasy, tranquillity, and pleasure that quenches your thirst for happiness.

But holy crap, the other side of that pill was a water slide straight into hell. The recreational use of ecstasy was my own means to an end. It left me hollow, nightmarishly depressed, and unwilling to cope because life felt black and white.

Having a daughter brought color back into my life.

I didn’t even want to be a dad until my mid-thirties. Mainly because I felt like a train wreck and, selfishly, I thought it would make me unhappy.

Now I feel like every day has meaning. There is no end goal. There’s only the North Star of living up to my potential as a person and father. It feels like my life matters. I have a priority that’s bigger than myself.

And it’s the sobering reminder that kids (and adults) don’t hear the words you say, they watch your actions.

The shit you actually live and breathe.

They see what you value by your behavior.

When I decide to show up despite feeling depressed, I’m happy not because I’ve achieved something but because my action is a vote toward the person I want to become.

That person, to me, is someone who doesn’t shy away from obstacles. That person sees value in being vulnerable. That person acts out of integrity because true alignment is the only thing that makes us happy. Why? Because that person takes action even when no one is watching. That person knows that happiness comes from within.

Your journey might be riddled with self-doubt and past mistakes, but remember, happiness isn’t a destination; it’s found in our everyday choices and the actions we take.

For starters, live by your values, every single day.

Every morning, take a quiet moment to reflect on your core values as you sip your coffee or tea. Then, decide on one action you can take that day that mirrors those values. This isn’t about grand gestures but the simple, everyday decisions that sculpt the canvas of your life.

Next, revel in the journey, not just the destination.

Think of the celebrities and their revelations. It was never about the final accolade but the thrilling ride that got them there. It’s not the finish line that counts most, but the steps taken, the hurdles overcome, the growth experienced.

So pick something you’re passionate about. Work at it, bit by bit, every day. Find joy in every small victory, every lesson learned. Relish the journey, not just the anticipation of the destination.

Lastly, value relationships and personal growth over trophies.

The most profound joys often bloom from genuine human connections and the growth we experience alongside them. Set aside some time each day, even if it’s just a few minutes, to connect deeply with a loved one, a friend, or even with yourself. The treasure lies not in the praises the world showers on you but in the smiles you share, the understanding you build, and the personal battles you conquer.

It’s not just about achieving your goals; it’s about realizing your worth, showing up for yourself and the people you love, and recognizing that you and your choices matter.

About Chris Wilson

Join Chris Wilson in 'Simplify Sundays,' a newsletter journey blending productivity insights, minimalism, and personal growth. Overcoming depression and bipolar disorder, Chris shares profound lessons for a balanced, fulfilling life. Discover the power of simplicity and mindfulness to transform challenges into growth opportunities. Embrace a life of less stress, more joy, and meaningful living. [Click here to access Chris's Free Course] on mindful simplicity, and start your journey towards a happier, more productive life.

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