I read a great quote the other day, from the actor Denzel Washington. He was talking about how so many people thought that when they got that job, had that car, lost that weight, or bought that house that then, they would be happy. He called it destination happiness, and he warned against it.
Why? Because it sets you up for a lifetime of feeling like you never have enough, or are enough. There is a big difference between having goals (especially financial ones) and thinking that reaching those goals are finally going to make you happy. Because chances are they won’t. You are still the same person you were before, and acquiring one goal usually means you are going to find another, then chase that, expecting that to be the silver bullet that will make you happy.
While I am a huge advocate for financial goals, I also know that money, and the things it can buy, can bring you pleasure and comfort, but not lasting happiness. That is an inside job, and it comes from being happy with who you are.
I remember my grandmother who had been in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and lost her husband and all possessions during that time telling me the secret to life.
“Eric, remember this, the secret to life is being happy with who you are, and what you have, right now,” she said and it has always stuck with me. My grandmother migrated to New Zealand after the war with the clothes on her back and worked migrant jobs that nobody else wanted.
My grandmother died many years ago, and she was and continues to be, one of the most positive influences in her family’s life. She was always a happy woman and got great satisfaction from the little things. She was never a wealthy woman, but she was rich in what mattered. And that was because she knew happiness and money were not related.
That happiness came from being satisfied with your life, being alive, and being hopeful for the future.
So, I encourage and applaud everyone having financial goals. They are essential. To get out of debt, to save for that home, or contribute to your retirement via super are all going to improve your quality of life. But I also urge you to think about where your happiness comes from. Are you waiting for that magical day when you reach your goals and it arrives? Or, are you happy now, without having reached your goal destination?
After all, happiness is not the destination – it is the journey.