To simplify, we could say that there are three phases in which one's life can be. Sometimes everything is going wrong, or at least everything is statically in a bad place, and the goal is to find one area to fix to create a foundation on which to build.
Maybe most common is a scenario where one's life is going well but there are one or two big things on which to work. Life is good but you need to make more money, or just find a boyfriend or girlfriend. That's a pretty obvious one to work on.
But what do you do when everything is going right? A few things.
Appreciate and Accept it. Sounds trite, but so many people don't do it. Whether through skill, luck, persistence, or all three, you've reached a high point. Enjoy it and be grateful for it. If you aren't able to fully appreciate the things you achieve, there's not all that much point in striving for them.
We always react to our training. If we've been forever striving, trying to fill in holes in our lives, we may find it hard to accept that everything is going well. That can cause us to self-sabotage or to begin fixing problems that don't actually exist.
Cement the success. What can you do to make this success permanent rather than fleeting? How can you make your relationships stronger? How can you invest your money so that it works for you and isn't spent? What can you do to make your business or career more resilient?
Focus on little things for a while. Sometimes when making big changes in life we ignore small things in favor of making big gains, and that's often the right thing to do. When the big things are going right, it's a good time to take a break and shore up all of the little things to give yourself a fresh slate again.
Have a broad view when considering your next big focus. Options that weren't available to you probably are now, and your priorities may (and probably should) have shifted. Maybe the best return on your time is now to help other people. Maybe it's to look inwards and develop yourself rather than focus on external things. The least satisfied people seem to be those who keep trying to do the same thing long after the marginal returns have diminished.
I think people have a tougher time than one would expect when things are going well. They can become complacent, paranoid, self-destructive, or inefficient. Look at people who rise to fame or fortune quickly. It can be a time of change, and that's not always something people deal with well. When you've checked major boxes in your life, be aware of it and make sure you continue with the same level of conscientiousness that got you there, even if it's aimed in a different direction.
Photo is the concrete supports in a subway station in Budapest.
My family is coming to visit in Budapest tomorrow. So excited! First time they've traveled with me.
Can't believe there's only one comment for this post so far. I like your viewpoint and I think it has a lot of validity. Some people are too busy or too negative to acknowledge the positive things in their life even when they're numerous. I think whichever phase you're in, there's a lot to be said to 10 minutes of positivity, and also life reflection, goal setting and acknowledgement. Also, having intent to achieve things but to limit the amount of emotion invested in the outcome, especially the short term outcome. Thanks for this post!
If everything is going well, then you would think that you'd feel an overwhelming amount of gratitude, joy of being alive, and stoked on life. If you don't, then everything probably isn't going as well as you think. ;)
P.S. Sett seems to be buggy for me in Chrome. It won't let me login and ends up deleting the text I wrote. So I have to post in Firefox.
When I hit them up for blog post ideas, my friends say that I should write posts about how I decide what to do next. I'm not sure if it's because they think I make good decisions when faced with the question, or because my choices are so bizarre that they require explanation.
I don't feel like my decision-making process is so unusual that it necessitates a post, but sometimes it's the things most obvious to us that are most interesting to others. My friend Leo is a dad every day of his life, but I find each parenting decision he has to make fascinating.
What to do next is a question that has to be answered constantly, both in the short term and the long term. What big project should I tackle next? What should I work on this week? What should I make for breakfast?
To further complicate things, each question has nearly unlimited possible choices. Should I do another startup? Become an artist? Join the circus? These tend to be my favorite decisions to make, though-- those that combine imperfect information with possibility trees that can't fully be analyzed.
Well. It happened. I got accepted into grad school. Which is exciting - trust me it's REALLY exciting. But acceptance is a funny thing. Or "being accepted" is a funny thing. Not sure which one's funnier. Or not funny at all.
It's hard to do anything genuinely when you are only looking for an acceptance. The thing about acceptance is that it's always to someone else's standard. Let's talk about grad school - this school sets a standard, had a process, and I (applying) had to strive to meet that standard. I would hopefully pass it, and impress them enough to want me there.
While it’s acceptable to want to do well and in this case put effort and passion into presenting oneself for an educational opportunity, it’s kinda a dangerous way to live life.
There was a time - not so long ago - that my whole life was based off of being accepted by things/people. I don't just mean the occasional compliment or promotion but this never ending strive to be the best so that others "higher" than me would notice or give recognition. It was kinda gross. And it kinda made me a gross person.
When striving for acceptance life is viewed through a lens that only sees pass or fail and not the journey taken to get there. A life striving for acceptance lacks depth and stability – thus the dangerous part.