What are you optimizing for?
Too many people live a life of quiet regret. They feel like they spent their life chasing other people’s goals, instead of what they actually want.
Bronnie Ware is a palliative care nurse who wrote the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. Those regrets are:
- I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
- I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
- I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
- I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
- I wish that I had let myself be happier.
My experience of a decade and a half of coaching is that most people are actually extremely good at succeeding at what they want—but we’re rarely honest about what we want. Each of the regrets of the dying is a function of setting the wrong metrics or optimizing for the wrong factors.
It’s only on our deathbed that we finally discover we wanted to live a life true to ourselves. Instead, we optimized for other people’s measures of success—eg. our parents’ dreams or social norms—instead of our own. We made poor life decisions because we optimized for the wrong metric, years before. Or our subconscious chose for us because we were not paying attention.
When you are not conscious about what you are optimizing for, you risk optimizing for the wrong things and that will take you further and further away from the life you really want.
I’ve coached several senior executives in Hollywood who are very wealthy but very frustrated and highly unfulfilled. They went into the movie business because they were so creative. But they spent their career optimizing for money, not creativity. I’ve coached many leaders who went into corporate life with a deep desire to make a difference but who optimized for status instead. And I regularly see exhausted coaches and artists and marketers who optimize for likes or followers on social media, instead of mastery of their craft or deep connection.
You are optimizing for something right now. What are you optimizing for?
- list size
- client experience
- your experience
- your values
- your parents’ values/dreams
- supporting others
- losing weight
You can’t optimize for everything simultaneously.
And you won’t accomplish what you really want until you decide what to optimize for—and then you compromise, or minimize, everywhere else.
There’s nothing wrong with anything you want to achieve. It’s just important that you are honest about what you want. In the words of Derek Sivers, “If you want to make a lot of money, you need to admit that. If you want to be famous, you need to pursue that. If you want freedom and no responsibilities, or want to learn as much as possible, or whatever else, you need to realize it and embrace it.”
You will feel deeply unfulfilled, sad, frustrated and even angry if you live a life and build a business optimizing for metrics that are other people’s measures of success.
When you know what you are optimizing for, life becomes simple. Every other goal becomes secondary and you focus only on what matters most to you.
Tell me: What are you optimizing for?
PS. I ran an “Ask Me Anything” session where I discussed 5 things: (1) How to enroll high performing, high fee clients. (2) How to coach highly successful people. (3) The game that will take your coaching practice to the next level. (4) The tool that will have dream clients wanting to speak with you. (5) The power of a 20 minute chat and a 90 minute coaching conversation—and the right time and the wrong time to use each of them. Click on the image below to watch the instant replay.
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