Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could just spend all of our time doing only the things we enjoy doing? So why do we continue to spend our time doing things we don’t like doing? Isn’t life hard enough already without the added stress of doing things that don’t bring us happiness? So what really influences the choices that we in life? I’ve found 5 reasons so here they are…
I believe that once we understand these five reasons we can better navigate the choices we make and start focusing our efforts towards choosing to do more of what makes us happy and fills our lives with purpose.
First, sometimes we have to do things because we need the result produced by doing them. These are “results driving” choices. Going to work is a perfect example. Although we may not love going to work for 8, 10 or 12 hours a day, we do it because we need the result (getting paid) to take care of our financial needs. Working out or exercising is another great example. Some people love working out while others do it for the health benefits of being physically fit or to like what they look like in a mirror or on the beach.
Second, we do things to try to please others. You guessed it, these are “people pleasing” choices.
This may be chores around the house, going out of your way to surprise someone or doing something kind for another person. Or sometimes (and this is the hard part to accept), we make choices for our lives because it’s what others want us to do. Doing things to please our parents is a perfect example. I went to college to please my parents because at the time I didn’t realize the value of education. I knew I wanted to join the military but at the time, I made choices to follow a different path for myself in order to please others.
Sometimes these types of choices require sacrifice. If we spend our time doing things for the sole purpose of pleasing others, we are giving up the time to do things that make us happy. This isn’t always the case though. I find great happiness in knowing I’ve made a choice to do something that makes someone else happy. The key here is to find a balance. We need to balance how much we sacrifice to make others happy to ensure we don’t end up giving up too much of our own happiness in the process.
Third, we make choices because everyone else made the same choice. These are “crowd following” choices.
Similar to people pleasing choices, this is a huge driver for how many people in today’s world make choices. If everyone else is doing it then I should to, right? Wrong. But unfortunately, the pressure to be like everyone else is very strong and we make choices that we feel help us to fit in. I’m sure you can come up with plenty of examples for these types of choices in your own life.
In my experience, these choices provide us with short-term happiness but that happiness quickly subsides when we realize it’s impossible to keep up with others around us because we are organically different and enjoy different things.
Once we realize that what makes others happy doesn’t always make us happy, we regain the freedom to make our own choices again to drive our own personal happiness.
The fourth driver of choice is a tough one – we feel like we have to. I call these the “just because” choices.
Sometimes in my life, I realize the reason why I am spending so much time doing certain things I don’t enjoy is “just because” I feel obligated to do them. Or maybe it’s “just because” I have always done those activities and I don’t like change. Change is hard but if certain choices and activities don’t bring you joy anymore, are they really worth doing?
Finally, we make choices to spend our time doing what we love doing. These are the activities that set your soul on fire. Let’s call them “happiness driving” choices.
For me, this is spending time with my family, creating content, reading and finding ways to inspire others. I could spend 24 hours a day doing this stuff. Years ago, my aunt Lulu bought me this plaque that reads…
“Be fearless in pursuit of what sets your soul on fire”
That plaque changed the game for me forever. I don’t care what other people think about what I spend my time doing because it’s my life to live and I choose to pursue what sets my soul on fire and so should you.
So in conclusion…
What’s the right motivation for making choices in life? Probably a mixture of all 5 of these reasons but of course, we probably like #5 the most. Can we spend all of our time doing only what makes us happy? Ideally, yes but realistically, probably not (yet). We have bills to pay and chores to do. So let’s start with this…
Do more of what you love and less of what you don’t. Little adjustments in your day to do more of what you enjoy first before doing the things you feel you need to do. Start making small adjustments to do more of the good and less of the bad. Shift your priorities. Stop making the things “you must do” be the only thing you focus on because then you never get to do the things “you want to”.
Always look for ways to make others happy but be careful not to sacrifice too much of your own happiness along the way.
Wait! Before you go…
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