Instead of focusing on what is important, I would tell myself when this happens or that happens then I will be happy. For example, I would say when I graduate college then I will be happy or when I get a promotion at work then I will be happy. The problem with chasing happiness is that it is always faster than you because you are looking for the next thing that will make you happy.
Instead of chasing happiness by concentrating on solely acquiring things, last year I implemented the equation below to drive my happiness and it has made a dramatic impact on my life. If you were like me and chasing happiness then follow this equation:
Happiness = Experiences + Relationships + Meaning
Experiences are far more rewarding than purchasing things. If you have the opportunity to spend $300 on new clothes or go on a weekend a trip: Go on the trip. The shopping trip will give you an immediate high, but I bet you will forget about those clothes in a week. On the other hand, if you go on the trip you will remember those memories forever. Just think – how many times have you said to a friend, “remember that time when we went shopping and purchased that tank top”.
It is a proven fact that more relationships equal a longer life expectancy and more happiness. Having people in your life is important because you have a support group no matter what happens in life. Just knowing that people are there for you gives you a sense of security that is invaluable.
If the only meaning in your life is to go to work so you can retire someday; then I assume you are waiting for retirement to be happy. It is essential to find some meaning in life. This meaning doesn’t necessarily have to be your work (but I think finding meaning in work is important because you spend a majority of your time working). It can come from a hobby, volunteering, or raising your children. Just make sure you have something to live for other than making money.