I was recently reading Arthur C. Brooks book, From Strength to Strength: Finding Success, Happiness and Deep Purpose in the Second Half of Life, and he mentioned an equation for satisfaction. Intrigued? So was I. According to Brooks the equation for satisfaction is Satisfaction = Haves/Wants.

Edit Your Wants

He argues that the correct strategy is not to increase what you have but to edit what you want. And also being open to changing what it is that you want. He challenges the notion that many of the things that we ‘think we want’ will bring us satisfaction and even if they do bring us some momentary happiness that’s all that it is…momentary. 

The Pursuit

Satisfaction is something that we, as accountability coaches, think about a lot because we help people pursue their goals. Most people think that the payoff is the goal itself but we know after years of doing this work that the most satisfying part is the pursuit of the goal. And the research backs that up. It has shown that we experience more well-being in our progress towards a meaningful goal rather than in the attainment.

We do our best to help people set meaningful goals but our focus is in the steady progress that is happening week to week because even though there will always be a mix of harder weeks and easier weeks it is here that life is lived. 

Top 3 Takeaways

Our takeaways from this book and our own experience with cultivating satisfaction are: 

  1. Edit your wants, don’t mindlessly add or let marketing push you into wanting so much that you feel unhappy with what you have. 
  2. There is no easier way to connect with what you already have than practicing gratitude. That is one of the reasons we incorporate gratitude into every aspect of our program from planning, to accountability, to wrapping up, you will always end a meeting with us with what you are grateful for. 
  3. The goal is the destination, but remember that it’s the progress that brings you closer that is going to give you the most satisfaction so enjoy it. And if you really don’t like what you are doing, it might not be the right goal, and that’s okay too. 

To make this actionable, I challenge you to make a list of all the things that you’ve been wanting and cross at least three off your list. Was it easy or hard?