Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project follows the author’s goal to become happier through meeting monthly goals. The months are divided into the categories you would expect: energy, family, friends, work, money, etc. While the book is tailored around Rubin’s “Twelve Commandments”, the first of which is Be Gretchen, it causes the reader the look at themselves and evaluate their own happiness.
Rubin begins her quest for happiness because, although her life is seemingly perfect, she isn’t totally happy. Channeling the research of Aristotle to Oprah, she puts a plan in place to challenge her daily routine.
One chapter in particular had me tiptoeing the line between happiness and sadness. In Leisure: Be Serious About Play, Rubin discusses how realizing our goals and working towards them fervently forces us to relinquish others. She realizes, “I can do anything I want, but I can’t do everything I want”.
This was a concept I had never considered.
I will never be a movie star, a chef, a racecar driver. I will never dance at Radio City Music Hall. I will never stand on stage in front of a sold out crowd at Madison Square Garden.
I can’t act, sing, or dance well. I don’t enjoy cooking or driving. But understanding this allows me to focus on the goals that I do have. I enjoy designing, writing, and creating.
Us Gen-Yers tend to think that time is a limitless commodity. In high school, when it seems like we have all the time in world, hardly enough of it is focused on the 10-year plan, the 20-year plan, the solid life goals. We are instructed to focus solely on getting into the best college. But that is just the smallest step of many you will take in life.
Friends of mine spent their four years of college trying to “figure it out”; studying for subjects they may never need, filling their schedules with P.E., dropping the phrase “D is for diploma”, and just generally skating through. So what do you wind up with when you reach the other side?
My grandpa once told me that life “flies by at the speed of your age”. The older we get, the less time we have to refine our talent into results. Talent isn’t what gets you paid, results do.
Now is the time to be hungry, to be focused, to be goal-oriented. There is indeed a sadness in letting go of what could have been, but there is an honesty, a fire, and a security in holding steadfast to what we know can be.
This reminded me of a quote by one of my favorite writers, Sylvia Plath, that I stumbled across recently: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” So as I venture into my late twenties and my goals begin to crystallize, I’ll find comfort and confidence in the goals themselves. Though parred down from when I was 10, they are vast in and of themselves. And best of all, they are feasible; and nothing excites and motivates me more than that.