Satisfaction = What you Have (divided by) What you Want
—Arthur C. Brooks, American social scientist, musician, and columnist
The satisfaction equation looks so simple. All we need to do is acknowledge all we have, divide it by our wants, and make sure the result is a number that puts a smile on our face when we brush our teeth before bed.
We could easily do a fast status check and feel OK, or we could do a more thorough analysis to optimize our results. Consider digging deeper here and actually do the math.
Take two separate sheets of paper with the headings What I Have and What I Want at the top. Place these sheets in a location where you will see them throughout your day. For the next few days, jot down items on each list. Keep asking yourself What Else? before you move on to other matters.
Before you do the division problem, consider how a little addition or subtraction might increase your satisfaction.
“Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you least expect it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.”
—Charles F. Kettering, 20th Century American inventor and engineer
Image from Unsplash by Jose Aljovin
The average inventor produces about three patents in their lifetime. A prolific inventor produces around 15. Charles Kettering, who founded Delco and worked for General Motors from 1920 to 1947, was the holder of 186 patents.
He was clearly a person of action, not one to sit things out on the sidelines.
Another one of my favorite quotes from Kettering is:
“My Interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.”
Where are you currently stopped in your life?
Where are you sitting it out, hoping that things will miraculously improve on their own?
Where is it time to stand up and get going again so that you can stumble on something that will add greater meaning and satisfaction to your life?
Someone once told me that money is a scoreboard for value. A second concept that I’ve taken to heart is: “Time is the Coin of Life.”
How are you spending your time, and what value are you creating in the world?
What is your current level of happiness and life satisfaction?
Research has proven time and again that intrinsic motivation – that based on deeply held values and beliefs – creates far more sustainable and lasting rewards than any external scoreboard could measure.
The Little Engine that Could is an American fairy tale that became widely known in the 1930s. Through an online poll of teachers, The National Education Association rated it as one of the Top 100 books for children, because of its key message of the importance of optimism and hard work.
The story’s signature phrase, I Think I Can is a key memory I have from childhood on the importance of self belief and self determination. My wife Wendy and I did our best to instill this concept in both our children.
Where and with whom would a bunch more “I can” and “I know you can” statements support greater achievement and life satisfaction in your personal and professional communities?
“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows.”
—St. Francis of Assisi
Image from Unsplash by Darren Bockman
Who are the people in your world that light up your life?
Take a minute or more to make a list of these special people, and note the qualities and characteristics they exhibit that caused you to put them on your list.
On the flip side, note the individuals in your personal and professional communities that cast shadows over your world and reduce your aliveness and life satisfaction. What are their specific behaviors and attitudes that cloud your world?
Beyond spending far more time with the first group and less with the second, how can and will you personally bring more sunshine to those around you, for the benefit of all?
This effort will almost certainly attract many more sunbeams from others who also desire brighter days.
“Don’t stop when you are tired. Stop when you are done.”
—David Goggins, American ultramarathon runner
Image of David Goggins from Madbarz
A job well done is a wonderful phrase, whether said by us, or a respected colleague.
The power and satisfaction of completing something big or small has a way of releasing lots of those “feel good” hormones associated with happiness, pleasure, and overall life satisfaction.
On the other hand, consider all those half-done, in-process projects in either your personal or professional worlds – especially the ones that don’t quite light you up with enthusiasm. What emotions and feelings are associated with these matters? How often do you stop your efforts due to some level of fatigue or frustration, or perhaps procrastinate and decide to get back to these efforts later rather than sooner?
Where and on what priority matter could you use the experience of being tired as a trigger or catalyst to dig deeper into your own grit and persistence to “get’er done”?