I was chatting to a good friend of mine a few weeks ago, and he spoke of ‘horizon happiness’, a condition, if you can call it a condition, where we look to a life in the future when we will be happy. It does not imply you are not happy today, but it does imply you will be happier tomorrow.
This future, is different to today, because ‘stuff’ you dislike about your life today will be gone, and in the future, the horizon, when you will have achieved certain goals which often requires money, you will be doing or owning stuff that will allow you to live this happier life. So, work hard today for jam tomorrow, because, we often tell ourselves if you want to get to the end of the rainbow you need to put up with the rain today.
Having thought about horizon happiness, I realise how I have been personally affected by this condition. You only have to read our company slogan – ‘Creating Your Tomorrow’ to understand this. I am driven to achieve, or perhaps, more accurately, I am driven not to fail. I am an avid goal setter, and when I achieve a goal I cannot celebrate too much because I still have to achieve the remaining goals on my list, and perhaps do not celebrate or appreciate the achievement of a goal. Will I ever be content – perhaps not due to the goal list, but I will never give up trying.
I see this in many of our clients. They too are driven. Driven in their business, career or personal and family goals. Driven to live or have a better life.
They often say ’I will be happy IF’…But when they achieve that IF they then move to the next IF – constantly progressing, but getting no closer to the horizon, because expectations keep rising, there is always another IF or another goal added to the list and as a result fulfilment, happiness and contentment will always elude them. A great question to ask yourself is:
‘Ten years ago, if I offered you the life you are living today would you take it?’
Most people I have asked that question to will say yes! But they are now looking at the next ten years, not appreciating what they have, not being content. I will be happy IF…
In many ways I applaud this attitude as success cannot be achieved without drive or ambition, and goal setting is an essential ingredient to success.
What I have learned, but equally, need to keep reminding myself about, is:
Often, the chase is better than the catch.
I have built a business around helping clients achieve their goals. Some of these maybe material, a bigger house, a holiday home, or a super car, and often it is to reach a lifestyle that can be maintained without having to work. Often, the desire, hard work and planning for this dream is often more enjoyable than the actual achievement. Strange isn’t it, but very common.
It is good to have goals, and to imagine and plan for a future where life will be happier, but not if this means not appreciating today.
We must take time to appreciate our time today, the things we do and the people in it.
To quote singer, song writer Sheryl Crow:
“Soak up the sun…it’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
My book, Retireability is all about planning and living a fulfilling and purposeful retirement. But I pointed out that in doing so, you mustn’t be looking out of the office window watching life go by, you must enjoy today as well. Time, our most precious asset waits for no one.
Interestingly, there has been extensive research carried out about at what age are people at their happiest. These suggest happiness generally follows a U-shaped curve, meaning happiness is high in your teens and early twenties, followed by a downturn in your late twenties attributed to rising anxiety levels, then rising again from your mid-fifties until around age 70 (although we have some very happy and content 70+ clients who would rightly dispute this). Much of these studies focused on wellbeing and contentment, and the majority of these cited financial security and independence as the driving force reducing anxiety and promoting wellbeing and contentment.
Money does not guarantee happiness, but once you understand that you have enough to afford the life you want to live, whatever happens, such emotions foster enormous contentment and removes the number one cause of anxiety.
This is the purpose of Henwood Court. To help clients, whatever their age, to be happier and feel more content through the creation and regular nurturing of a financial plan.
We do this through Financialsense®
My challenge, and my challenge to our clients is not to wait for happiness, yes plan for the future but to also appreciate the moment and what you have today.
As we are gripped by this pandemic this is more important than ever. Yes, holidays and hobbies are on hold, and we cannot socialise as we would like to with friends and family, but at this moment we have the opportunity and time to do ‘stuff’ today that will not be possible to do when the new norm begins.
I would welcome your own thoughts on horizon happiness, it is a fascinating topic and so very important you understand this for your own wellbeing.
E-mail me your thoughts – Nick.email@example.com
For me it is about appreciating the NOW.