How will you measure your life?

Happy 2016! The first book I read to kick off the new year is Clayton Christensen’s How will you measure your life?  In Clayton’s book he uses economic and business theories to explain how one can reach happiness in both their work and professional life.  In a section of his book he discussed the folly of overachievers.  The issue is overachievers tend to focus on the wrong type of achievement – it’s often not the most beneficial for them or even the company they work for. They put all their resources toward the next pay raise or proportion and they will prioritize short term rewards over the longer term needs.  This applies to both work and personal life.  It’s important for us to establish a balance and priority with what is truly important to us.  Everyday we make many decisions and the summation of these decisions show us what we are prioritizing in our lives.  I bet if we take a cold hard look what we think we focus on is clearly not aligned with what we actually focus on.   Clayton stresses that young adults often make career sacrifices for the lure of instant gratification of money or status, as a result, our personal relationships suffer.  In reality, our interpersonal relationships are the most important to most – having the support of family and friends is a life time commitment and may take many years before we see the results of this or fully appreciate their benefit.

Interestingly enough, while reading this book I couldn’t help but recognize the parallels in thought between the book and one of those online mobile games.  You know, the ones like “Bakery Story” or “FarmVille” where you farm/build/bake/make all sorts of items and unlock achievements.  These games are fun and super addictive at first because the rewards and leveling are quick – there is a little time investment for big returns.  But two weeks after consistently playing the game during my “free” time the rewards get fewer and less immediate unless you spend some additional money  (which I refuse to do).   The creators of these games are ingenious creators of motivation in my eyes – for allowing a player to get immured in the game, and continue to return to the game day after day.   In the beginning of your career you may think you should focus 100% of your attention to it.  Go for the goal and always look to be the best – climb the corporate ladder and if you’re not satisfied with what you’re doing quickly switch roles you find what is you like.  This may work for the first few years, but as the years pass, you start to question the very purpose of why you are “playing the game” in the first place.  Is this truly where you want to be, or did you just pursue this path because it lead to the quickest reward and led you to believe that you were on the right path?

I believe we need to be honest with ourselves.  We need to know exactly why we’re playing the game and we need to understand that there is no magical pathway that is ideal to follow.  The beauty of life is that we craft it from nothing and we can create and shift and pivot whenever we’d like.  The decisions we make should not be based on what our parents, nor our closest friends or academia tells us we need to do to be “successful”.  The key to life and happiness is to discover what truly motivates us, engages us, and brings out our individual creativity and then to balance that with what we truly envision the type of person we want to be remembered for.

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