Success and Happiness are Activities. If overwhelmed, just take action and gain some momentum.
Viktor Frankl was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. Like many of his fellow prisoners, he suffered tremendous hardships. He had this to say about success.
“Don’t aim at success — the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; …success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think of it.”(Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)
We can distill some lessons from this statement.
- Enjoy the process. Pursue actions that promote success, but have fun.
- When a measure becomes the goal, it ceases to become a meaningful measure (Goodhart’s Law).
- Happiness (and success) is an activity. Not a state. (Aristotle, paraphrased)
- Because you have ignored the state of success and have instead focused on activity, success (the state) becomes less meaningful. This doesn’t mean there will be less of it. It means you have prioritized what really matters.
- Do things because you love to do them. It is a more sustainable approach compared to the single-minded focus on a goal. Systems over goals. Actions/activity over goals.
When you become overwhelmed with your goals, just act. Take the smallest action you can toward the goal. You will gain momentum and move on to bigger, and more impactful, action.
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