How To Decide What You Really Want In The Future
by Nancy F. Clark (Follow her on Twitter)
See the latest on Forbes
Named one of Forbes: Thirty Women Entrepreneurs To Follow On Twitter
“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”
Recently, I talked about Leadership For Women. One component of a good leader is having a vision for the future of the company. On a personal level, each of you needs a vision. What do you want to achieve? What will make you happy? Your choices on both levels, the corporate and the personal, are very important and very easy to botch.
The mystery is: How do you select your vision? When a businesswoman comes to WomensMedia for coaching she often doesn’t know what she wants to achieve. She may say, “I’m not happy with my job. If I were promoted one-level up, I’d be happy.” or “If I had more prestige at work, I’d be happy.” These are the types of things that Conventional Wisdom tells us will make us happier. You know I love to look closely at Conventional Wisdom . . . because it’s so often wrong and we all buy into it!
We’ve all seen those visual puzzles that change as we stare at them, showing us that we can’t always trust what we see at first. You also have an understanding that as we’re concentrating on one task, we may not be aware of something else that’s happening near us. What I’m leading up to here is that we have an inkling that our view of reality is not perfect, but what about our view of the future? Are you positive you know what will make you happy in the future? Guess what—you’re probably wrong! But wait. There’s a solution.
If you’re like most people (myself included) you’re saying, “You don’t know me! I’m different from most people. I’m smarter than most people. I know what will make me happy.” In a case like this, the only thing that will make me take notice of a possible error on my part is to see what science says.
Scientists Gilbert and Wilson (Cambridge University Press) put their research into words we probably don’t want to hear:
“Much unhappiness … has less to do with not getting what we want,
and more to do with not wanting what we like”.
They maintain, and I agree, we miswant when we think getting a new car, or that big TV, or a new partner is what we need to be truly happy.
The research says we often err when we think about the future—and it also says the things we’ll regret most are the chances we didn’t take—the opportunities we let slip by. If we take a chance and it goes badly, we don’t realize how powerfully we can concoct rationalizations that sooth us back to normal. I told you I’d be giving you a solution . . .
But first, I have to recommend a book, Stumbling On Happiness. No, it’s not my book. And, no, I’m not profiting by telling you to buy it. I believe you’ll be better off by giving it a good read and a good think.
Of course you haven’t had time to get the book yet, but I’m still going to tell you the solution. I’m not ruining the book for you because if you’re like most people (moi aussi), you need to reinforce an idea over and over until it becomes “part of your wardrobe.”
The million-dollar solution is that you need to find people who are living the dream that you think will make you happy in the future. Talk with them about how happy, or unhappy, they are right now. What are the pluses? The drawbacks? Are you surprised with the answers? (Think of all those lottery winners who are no better off.) Do you need to interview more people? Do you need to rethink your vision?
Science has shown (and I believe it) that we’ll increase our odds of selecting a future vision that will make us happy if we rely on what others feel today. And who doesn’t want to increase her odds?
My tip is going to get you started using your newly increased odds.
The first thing you have to do is very easy: Get a blank piece of paper.
List 3 end goals you think might make you happy—for instance, CEO, Executive Vice President, Marketing Manager, small business owner, independent consultant, author, speaker—you get the idea.
Now list 3 people you could interview for each goal. Decide how to approach each one. Remembering that these are probably busy people, you could send an email introducing yourself and asking for a brief telephone (or in-person) conversation for their career advice.
Now get out and run with those increased odds of success!
Be sure to visit our site, www.WomensMedia.com to get Expert Advice for Working Women.
Also see Eighteen Keys to Success —One of These May Unlock a Door for You! by Dianne Schilling