Earlier this year, we hosted a live event for our Accelerator membership program. At the beginning of the day, Shawn gave what we affectionately called, “The State of The Union speech.” It was a 30-minute speech meant to set the tone and kick off the day. And it was amazing.
Shawn titled it Living a Life of No Regrets.
He talked about how to actively live a life of no regrets. One of the things that I remember most from his talk was this phrase he said, “Choose joy now.”
No matter how much we would love there to be, there is often no “finally” moment. Our goals are constantly changing and moving. The moment you finally achieve a goal, it doesn’t matter because you’ve set a new one. We think we will experience joy when we finally accomplish our goal, but that doesn’t always happen.
I would catch myself thinking, “When I finally finish that project, I’ll be happy,” or “When I finish this course, then I’ll be able to relax.” But it turns out I never could relax and I almost never felt happy when I completed a goal.
As soon as I completed a goal, I set the next one. I was always working towards something but never allowing myself to actually live in the present. The goalpost is always moving.
When I was 15, I started doing college online. I dropped out of high school (my brother still calls me a high school dropout) to start pursuing my college education. Most of my courses were self-paced, without a teacher, and online. I had to be motivated to get through school; otherwise, I never would. There was no one emailing me or tapping me on the shoulder to ask why I wasn’t getting my school work done. So, I had to set some goals, a lot of them actually.
The problem was that I was so focused on getting done with one course and onto the next that I never enjoyed the process. I always said to myself, as soon as I am done with this course, then I will be able to have fun or relax or be happy. But that never came. I would finish a course and immediately start feeling pressure to get going on the next one.
I even felt this when I finally graduated. I hit “submit” on my final paper and I didn’t even feel relief. I just felt pressure to have the answer to “what are you going to do now?” I didn’t stop and choose joy in those moments.
Both James and Shawn perfectly articulated what I had felt. Always going after the next goal, never stopping, and choosing happiness and joy in the moment of life that I was in.
So this begs the question, how do you build a system that helps me choose joy? So many areas of our lives are run by goals and quotas and demands. How do we choose happiness and joy?
James puts it this way: “When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy.”
We need to have processes in place that help us to be happy in the moment, not just at the finish line. Joy is not the finish line, joy is the journey. I don’t want to live my life putting off happiness and joy until I reach a goal (and then start all over again). I want to live my life now and not look back at my life and think, “I just accomplished goals, but never actually lived.”
How do we choose joy?
So how exactly do we choose joy and learn to enjoy the process? There are lots of ways. James Clear says that the purpose of setting goals is to win the game, and the purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game.
At Shawn’s State of The Union speech, he said that one of the ways that we live a life without regrets is to build good routines in your life. Many people on their death beds say things like, “I wish I would have spent more time with my kids,” or “I spent too much time at work.”
I don’t want to say that at the end of my life.
I don’t want to live my life passively and just let things happen or constantly live for the next goal. I want to enjoy my life and be intentional about choosing joy.
Good Habits and Routines
Creating good routines and habits allows us to live our lives intentionally and not let them be overcome by outside demands or unending goals. As James said, they allow us to continue playing the game, not just win it.
Choose a habit that you want to implement that you think will help you to live more intentionally, do it for 60 days, and watch what it does. Maybe go on a walk for 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon and “stop and smell the roses.” Put into place good startup and shutdown routines so that you end your workday at a reasonable time so you can enjoy your family or hang out with friends. Start budgeting for that vacation that you never take and make happy memories.
These are all small habits and choices, but they can begin to bring joy into your life. Remember that you can choose joy in the journey, not just at the destination. Habits and routines are just some of the ways that you can begin to make those choices and see exponential results.