This article was last updated on September 5, 2017
As ambitious high performers, we all come to the same big realization at one stage of our life . We realize that it doesn’t matter how rich or how successful we are, if you don’t feel happy. At the same time, so many of us pursue big business goals without ever addressing our personal needs. This is why we witness so many successful individuals who nevertheless feel miserable and depressed.
Here are five common reasons why for many people, nothing really seems to make them happy and what we can do to instantly feel better:
1. We feel burned out and exhausted
Many people feel unhappy because they simply don’t take care of themselves. They rush from one task to the next as if they were running a marathon without any end in sight. No wonder that they eventually burn out and stop enjoying everything they do. High performers understand that while it is important to engage in challenging tasks, they must enjoy sufficient. They do this in three ways:
First, they take regular breaks throughout their day, to refresh and recover from their daily tasks. Even just 5 minutes of moving the body and taking a few deep breaths every hour can make a huge difference. Especially if we plan a longer break over lunch time. Second, high performers take at least one full day off for quality time with loved ones. Usually, this means no emailing and no business related phone calls. Finally, high performers schedule periodic vacations that allow them to switch off completely from their daily hassles. My wife and I do this by scheduling short getaways every three months. Not only do I come back feeling well rested and revitalized, but I also become creative. I often encounter breakthrough ideas that will help me take my business to new levels.
Action step: Take a moment to schedule and plan the kind of vacation that will help return back home feeling rejuvenated and inspired.
2. We suffer from boredom
So often people feel down because they don’t enjoy what they do. Professionally, this might mean they don’t find any real satisfaction from their job. For some this is because their work seems meaningless, while others became so good at what they do that their day is filled with automated routines that no longer stimulate them. Outside of work people get bored because they lack feelings of enthusiasm and excitement due to a monotone lifestyle — everything seems to repeat itself without any element of surprise and adventure. And what happens when we feel bored?
We seek distractions by browsing the internet, checking out friends on Facebook and eating junk food. These habits become addictive and rob our time and energy to engage in more fulfilling activities. We become less productive at work, and less satisfied in our private life. To counter feelings of boredom, we must plan for new experiences on a regular basis. We do this by taking on new challenges and learning new skills to advance our careers, while seeking novel thrills during our time off, for example by traveling to new locations, exploring new hobbies or visiting new restaurants.
Action Step: Pick a new challenge for the coming month that both excites you and will help you experience a breakthrough in your professional career, and schedule some daily time to advance this new goal.
3. We feel overwhelmed
Everyone knows the feeling of being so overwhelmed by our commitments that we barely find time to take care of their own priorities. This state becomes extremely frustrating over time because we are extremely busy, without ever really advancing our business or career. The good news is that for most people, a few simple adjustments can make all the difference– all they really need to do is reconquer their own agenda.
Here are two easy ways to do this:
First, we must stop being addicted to responding to other people’s emails. Most people check their phones from the second they wake up often until they get into bed, and sometimes even in the midst of the night- no wonder they don’t get much work done besides clearing their inbox, and feel overwhelmed and powerless. Just think about how much time and energy they spend responding to other people’s needs.
Try this instead
So instead of letting other people dictate your schedule, we want to pick two or three time slots a day in which we check our emails for a limited period of time ( i.e. 15 minutes), and use the rest of the day to pursue our own personal agenda. I can’t even start telling you how much more productive I have become ever since I only check my emails 2-3 times a day.
Second, we can free our schedule by eliminate unnecessary meetings and replacing them with time limited phone calls. I remember, for example, how I used to spend half my day driving to meet people without ever setting any time limits– and how I would barely have time to do anything else. By just reducing my weekly meetings, limiting them with fixed finishing times, and planning them on the same day every week, I completely transformed my schedule and productivity.
Action step: Eliminate unnecessary meetings and schedule specific time slots in which you check your emails.
4. We suffer from loneliness
Although it seems that the world is more connected than ever before, many people feel lonely. They either lack enjoying a circle of close friends and family members or their relationships lack any meaningful depth. Over time, feeling lonely not only makes us feel miserable but also harms our health.
With this in mind, it is important to consciously improve the quantity and quality of our relationships. Ideally, we want to have at least a handful like-minded ambitious friends who support us and we support them. If we don’t have this kind of a network, we must start mingling in settings where it becomes easy to meet our kind of crowd, like for example mastermind groups, seminars or even sport clubs.
In addition, we want to give our most important relationships more attention and more substance. This is easier said than done as we all live a hectic and chaotic schedule in which so many selfish people pursue a very single minded agenda. However, to enjoy a thriving life, it is crucial that we make it a habit to enjoy quality relationships again with our spouses, closest friends and family.
One way my wife and I do this is by going on a weekly date night and make sure we have an amazing time together, free from any other distractions from our daily lives. We have fun together, share stories and experience the kind of romance that makes us both feel desired and loved.
Action step: Commit to improving your most important relationship and think of one weekly activity that you could do with this person.
5. We experience self-doubt and negativity
Having managed some of the world’s best tennis players, I can share with you that everyone experiences moments of self-doubt and negativity. Suddenly we avoid doing the tasks that would help us experience more joy and success. However, what distinguishes successful people from everyone else is that they overcome their doubts by nevertheless taking consistent actions towards specific outcomes. They do so by controlling their attitude towards both setbacks and successes. Martin Seligman, one of the founders of positive psychology, discovered throughout his various studies that optimistic people earn more money, enjoy better health and are also happier. Their big secret is that they focus on giving positive experiences more weight and importance than negative ones. This is also how they overcome feelings of self-doubt.
To become more positive, we must make it a habit to interpret events in a more empowering manner. This means seeing setbacks as short lived, non-pervasive events that do not reflect on who we are, and from which we can learn important life lessons that will allow us to excel in the future. It also means generating the kind of momentum from our daily successes that will allow us to feel more confident and competent and believe in ourselves again.
We can trigger more positive thoughts by consciously feeding our mind with inspiring books, saying empowering affirmations and introducing a daily gratitude ritual. I know that ever since I have made it a habit to read something inspiring on a daily basis, I automatically give daily happenings a more positive spin, and feel more enthusiastic and happy. As a result, I take more action and experience many little wins that make me feel more confident and empowered.
Action Step: Spend ten minutes every morning reading from an inspiring book.
We all feel down from time to time, so know that you are not alone. Instead of hovering in misery, we must take a few minutes whenever we experience negative emotions and analyze them. Once we understand what is affecting our well-being, we can then commit to simple habits. These habits will lift our spirit and help address any unmet needs in order to be happy.