Modern world has grown economically and technologically more than ever in the history. However, more and more people are getting ill, both in physically and mentally, and more and more people are getting depressed, not being satisfied with their lives. I have put a lot of thought into this and how we could redesign our status quo of our mental model of viewing our life to improve our quality of lives.
The problem is that Most people are caught up in accomplishments, performance and results without appreciating health and happiness. Like what I did in my 20’s, they tend to spend too much time on their accomplishments and overlook the importance of health and happiness, which should be the foundations of your life before hustling yourself to accomplish more and more.
I know that quite many people should already know the importance of health and happiness, but unfortunately, they are so caught up in their fast-paced everyday lives that they just can’t afford to invest in them, especially in this modern era. I know that this is so challenging, but this is something that we really need to step up the game and more people need to participate as we live in this success and result-oriented society.
This post will serve you as a guide for looking back at how you have been viewing your life and living it accordingly and learn to navigate it with a new perspective. I hope this will give you a lot of inspiration and mental framework for designing your life.
Redesign of a hierarchy of life goals
I will start this section by sharing my example of goal hierarchy that I have set in my 20's.
- 1st goal: sustain a decent requirement for a living (clothing, food, home)
- 2nd goal: getting into a prestigious school and a world-class company with a high salary and following one of the most hottest careers
I was fortunate to have , so I did not need to worry or bother about the 1st goal. But I was someone who was uncontrollably obsessed with pursuing the accomplishments that I want to make in my life, especially in the times when I made my transition into computer science from business.
Entering into my 30’s and looking back my 20’s, I realized I have missed the most important foundation and phase in life right after fullfilling the minimum requirements for life, health and happiness. I had suffered from several chronic conditions that lasted for years and I was not satisfied with my life and did not feel happy about it most of the time (of course, there were some times that I felt like ‘yeah, I am happy now’).
In terms of accomplishments judged from our society, I am pretty sure I have accomplished quite a lot, well above the average. But still, I felt miserable and I was ill for quite some time. Going through the worst times in my life, I realized that any accomplishment is meaningless as long as you are not healthy and be satisfied with your life, which is why I called those two things as foundations of life (for people who have passed the 1st phase)
Now, this is the new hierarchy of goals that I have set for myself:
1st goal: sustain a decent requirement for a living (clothing, food, home)
2nd goal: be healthy and happy everyday
3rd goal: accomplish something that motivates and drives your life (even better if it gives you purpose of life, which is the most difficult thing to find)
Based on the fact that the world has the lowest poverty ever in the history, there should a huge group of people who definitely have already accomplished the 1st phase. These folks can afford to pursue their desires and accomplishments without worrying about.
The key idea here is again that you must ensure ‘health’ and ‘happiness’ is dead-rock solid before crazily diving into accomplishments and meeting expectations from others. I feel like most people probably have the same or similar 2-level goal that I had in the past. Accomplishments are not a bad thing, by nature. However, this phase must be done once you have achieved 1st and 2nd with sustainability.
In part 1, I would like to focus on the 5 benefits of redesigning my 3-level life goal hierarchy from 2-level.
1. Keeps you away from focusing too much on the 1st phase given that you have already enough
to earn as much money as they can and to keep buying better houses, cars, food, clothings, etc. The reason why I clearly defined the 1st phase minimum or at most decent quality of life is that once go beyond that level, you need to move onto phase 2- put more emphasis on health and happiness in order to enrich your life.
2. Adding the 2nd phase before the 3rd could paradoxically lead to more accomplishments
I added phase 2 between the two phases that I have set in my 20's. I would make it clear I am not merely saying let’s just be happy and healthy and don’t care about too much our work, careers, and aspirations.
The key components in the 2nd phases are such critical factors to be successful or any goals that you want to achieve in life. In that sense, prioritizing 2nd goals over your 3rd goal will make your 3rd and subsequent goals much easier. Stamina and mental health are important contributors for grit and sustainable hard work. Your wellness and happiness will become a strong energy to keep hustling yourself to achieve what you want. Many people forget or are unaware about the importance of these precious contributors to success and just attributing their failures to other inherent factors, such as intelligence, capabilities, or wealth.
As I mentioned in my model before happiness is tied into living your life as who you are will empower you with differentiation and uniqueness. Most people think that people who have been successful are exceptional in some aspect than others, whether it could be . My belief is that
I think one of the most powerful strategies of differentiating yourself from others to survive in this world of competition is living your life as genuinely as you are. I see many people have difficulty. I know it’s tough and it takes a long time to fully acquire a sense of self-identity, self-awareness and self-knowledge to live your life as you are, but it will definitely pay off in the long term by contributing to your success by building yourself with unique talents.
As you keep doing the things you love and are good at, success will naturally follow. Even though it doesn’t, you are already successful in achieving the 2nd phase and goal.
3. Tap into the synergy between health and happiness
Remember this obvious, yet profound fact: health affects your happiness and happiness impacts your health. Hence, they both should be fulfilled otherwise it would eventually risk the other component.
4. Focus more on doing the things you love and you are good at to pursue happiness
Okay. So we know that happiness is a good thing supposing that we have. But how can we achieve happiness? The answer could be put in a single, simple sentence:
live your life as you are
Living your life as you are could be done in 2 ways:
- doing the ‘things’ that you love
- doing the ‘things’ that you are good at
Though there will be more, there are 2 ‘things’ that most people think about:
- your work/career
- your hobbies/leisures.
In this post, I will focus on the work and career aspect, but also a follow-up post is expected to discuss the hobby and leisure perspective as well.
It would be the best case if you could find something that you are both good at and love. Unfortunately, most people would fall in these two cases, which are in between the best and worst case:
- doing the things that you are good at, but you don’t love: in the long-term, these people might be successful, but surprisingly not be satisfied with their lives
- doing the things that you love, but you are not good at: this is a good start. It’s okay to be not good at from the beginning. Just set a realistic goal and expectations. Constant perseverance and practice will make you better at things you love.
You may feel like ‘yeah, I been already looking for these things for my whole life, and yet I still haven’t found it. I do not know what I love or what I am good at. What should I do?’
In this case, based on what I have just said above, I would suggest to not give up and first start finding the things that you love as finding both will be overwhemling.
5. Frees you from relying on accomplishments
People might ask, ‘don’t we feel a lot of happiness from accomplishing things?’. Seemingly true, the fact is that accomplishment is something that you cannot control. You are not guaranteed to accomplish something just by wanting it. If you have gotten what you wanted all the time, then your life will be pretty happy. But most people’s life have not been working out like that. Our expected accomplishments fail us most of the times, which is why we get so frustrated and stuck in low self-esteem.
This was the major reason that kept me from being happy in my 20’s since there always had been a gap between my academic/career expectations and reality. I truly desired to be content with and feel happiness in my life. Thus, I redefined happiness as a foundation that you can achieve regardless of your accomplishments. This is possible because your source of happiness could be multi-faceted - not just from your success or status, but from your family, friends, and trivial things in your daily life.
I thought my life would be happy if I achieved most of the things that I wanted. Unfortunately, I could not and I thought happiness is something that I could never enjoy. However, happiness now flows abundantly in my life after I have redefined happiness and learned how to find it in a more solid, sustainable way.
Remember. Accomplishment should not be the determinant of happiness. Its role should be a booster for your happiness.
One of the biggest benefits of this 3-step strategy is that you have more freedom to set goals for your whatever accomplishment you want. It will give you more options and flexibility because you have a sustainable level of living along with health and happiness!
It is even better if it gives you purpose of life, which is the most difficult thing to find.
Since, I want to keep this post rather short and easy-to-ready, this is the end of part 1 of my post. Based on this mental model I have introduced in part 1, I will now walk you through how I applied this mental model to my life in part 2. Thanks for reading.