Do Happiness Coaches Bring True Happiness?
Coaches Make Happiness a Process, Not a Destination
In my business coaching work, I help people navigate through all kinds of transitions. Some of my clients struggle due to difficulty in making decisions. To deal with this issue, we typically take a look at what life would be like if a specific decision was made. We take the time to think about how things would be different in each scenario; and explore how it would look, and feel, during the process. Taking the time to do this exercise allows the client to visualize and experience the impact that these decisions may have on their lives. It enables the client a chance to “try out,” and “think through,” different decisions, without actually making the decision. In many cases over the years, my clients have reported that this approach has been extremely helpful to them.
However, a recent book I am reading caused me to question whether my approach is the truly helping people achieve the happiness they seek. On the recommendation of a colleague, I picked up a copy of the book “Stumbling on Happiness”, by psychologist Daniel Gilbert. In the book, he describes that when we actually reach the future that we planned for, it is never the same as we imagined it would be. The reason most of us are not good at predicting the future is partly because we tend to idealize how we will feel when we achieve our goal.
Given the fact that it is a challenge for most of us to visualize how we will feel when we will achieve our goals- I have changed my approach at coaching to include another question. The question I now ask is one that Tim Ferriss, the best-selling author of: The 4-Hour Workweek, suggests that you ask yourself in thinking about your ideal life. In a process he calls: “Dreamlining,” Mr. Ferriss suggests that you ask yourself the question “What excites me?”
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” Dalai Lama
Tim Ferriss believes, as I do, that to achieve happiness, we should plan our future by first focusing on what excites us rather than focusing on setting goals. And I believe that if we set goals that excite us, then activities that lead to those goals have a higher likelihood of also exciting us. By using Dreamlining and focusing on activities, goals and dreams that excite us, we can more easily:
- Experience happiness sooner by engaging in activities that make us happy
- Avoid procrastination due to putting things off we don’t like to do
- Avoid setting goals that are unreachable, or unwanted
- Achieve our dreams because activities and goals leading to them will get accomplished
Coaching for Happiness Example- Happiness Coaches Apply Coaching to Real Life
Let’s illustrate this point with an example. I have a client who is excited by meeting new people, learning, traveling, and making a difference in people’s lives. She is contemplating a career change and we discussed her options. One question that she found helpful is “what is it about those activities (meeting new people, learning, traveling, and making a difference in people’s lives) that she enjoys most? With meeting new people and learning, it is understanding how other cultures view the world, and the intellectual stimulation of learning new languages. With traveling, it is seeing new places and taking in the beautiful landscapes, flora and fauna of the area. With making a difference in people’s lives, it is her need to contribute to make the world a better place by doing concrete things to help others. My client eventually chose to teach English as a Second language abroad through an organization with satellite offices in multiple countries, allowing her to travel.
“When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” Confucius
Once our ideal activities are envisioned and planned, we must put in place a system to measure our progress. Done right, this will include: accountability by others, benchmarks, and a means to track where we are in the process, as well as some reinforcement and acknowledgement to our progress, and/or fulfillment. If we are unable to reach our goals, we can simply adjust our action steps.
Are you doing, or working towards something that excites you? If not, let’s talk. 781-325-8186
Happiness Coaches available in Brookline Boston MA