Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Framework for Happiness

The greatest enemy of happiness and fulfillment is minutia.  It’s all too easy to drown in the trivialities of life and lose sight of the light that is our true aspirations. In a prior post on Time Management highlighted the importance of having clear priorities in order to apply your time efficiency (importance>urgency).  Since they I’ve had many discussions about just how to go about establishing these priorities.   Over time this has evolved into a very simple one page framework:


This is designed to be filled from the bottom up – with each layer building on the one before it. 

  • Ethics - At the core is ethical boundaries.  What are things that you need to always or never do?
  • Motivations - Then think about your motivations and their result (your legacy).  What do you want to look back on at the end of your life?
  • Activities – What do you want to spend your time doing in service of your motivations and bounded by your ethics?
  • Relationships – What are your most important relationships that you need to nurture? What relationships do you need to develop to support your activities?


A book I’ve found invaluable in thinking about all of these areas is True North by Bill George.  A staple at HBS’s Authentic Leadership Development class.  The book includes interviews with a large number of the greatest leaders of our society and tells their stories in a series of vignettes. 


While by no means a complete roadmap to the rest of your life, this simple framework can serve as an invaluable compass.  When I have some time to myself I’ll think about my priorities in life and fill out the boxes.  Then I keep the framework on my wall and look at it every today to ensure that I’m spending my time on the most important things in my life. Not the most urgent minutia of the day.  That’s happiness.

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