9 Mins Read

The Real Measurement Of Success (Being At Peace With “Enough”)

Brandon Fluharty  |

Brandon Fluharty |

⚡️ Today’s level up ⚡️

Today’s edition deconstructs the powerful (and often destructive) force of staying on the hedonic treadmill as you progress throughout your sales career and three simple reframes to step off it to pursue a more purposeful path.

Let’s go!

Read time: <9 minutes

 

 

Doubling your net worth doesn’t double your happiness

The benefit of being in sales is you have more power over your income than any other corporate role.

The downside?

As your income increases, so too does the draw of inflating your lifestyle. The earning potential is a double-edged sword. A big quarter could mean taking home what you once earned in a single year. The Porsche 911 or the big home in the “fancy” neighborhood starts to look appealing…and possible.

But do these things really buy you happiness?

Constantly thinking you’ll “be happy when…” is a trap I see a lot of good revenue generators fall into. I fell victim too to this type of thinking throughout my career. And it makes sense. Those of us in sales are competitive (either with others, ourselves, or a combination of both), goal-oriented, and driven by nature. We set a high bar, achieve it, and set it higher next time.

Although it’s important to set lofty goals and aspirational targets for ourselves, it’s the attachment of happiness to these targets that can get us in trouble.

Enter the hedonic treadmill (also known as hedonic adaptation). The term “Hedonic Treadmill” was coined by psychologists Philip Brickman and Donald T. Campbell in 1971. It suggests that as people make more money, buy more things, or achieve more success, their expectations and desires rise in tandem, leading them to seek out new goals rather than savoring their accomplishments.

Essentially, it means that if something positive happens to you, like winning a big deal or getting promoted, you’ll feel happy for a while, but eventually you’ll settle back into feeling about the same as you did before.

The same goes for negative events – if something negative happens to you, like losing your job or crashing your car with the bike mounted on top into the garage (true story), you’ll feel bad for a period of time, but eventually you’ll bounce back to your baseline level of happiness.

The idea is that we have an “adaptive set point” for happiness that we tend to return to, no matter what happens to us.

Image source: @thomasandvisuals

Common traps of the hedonic treadmill in sales

For revenue generators, we’re on the hedonic treadmill more than most because of the variable nature in our role and income.

This can have adverse effects on our psychological stability and emotional well-being if we aren’t purposeful with managing it effectively. These common traps should feel all too familiar:

Constant chase for validation (hitting quota, leaderboards, President’s Club): Once you hit a sales target, the satisfaction is often fleeting. Almost immediately, a new, higher target is set, and the chase begins anew, leaving little time to enjoy the victory.

Materialistic mindset: Success in sales often brings financial rewards. However, the continuous pursuit of bigger commissions and “baller” purchases can trap you in a cycle of wanting more, without ever feeling truly content.

Chronic stress, anxiety, and frequent burnout: The relentless pursuit of the next big win can lead to burnout. The pressure to constantly outperform yourself can take a toll on your mental and emotional well-being, diminishing your overall happiness.

Three simple but powerful reframes to jump off the hedonic treadmill

1. Reframe status (they’re silly labels anyway)

There are a lot labels thrown around in sales:

– Win (or Loss)

– President’s Club (or PIP’d)

– Top-performer (or Under-performer)

But these “status symbols” are truly nothing more than labels, often used to keep sellers on the hedonic treadmill. Employers exploit these extrinsic motivators to keep you grinding hard to achieve “more” and make you feel bad when 20% quarter-over-quarter growth isn’t achieved.

These status symbols don’t stop at the workplace. They’re present everywhere we look in society as well. We’re constantly in flex mode and comparing ourselves to others. “What year is your G-Wagon?” “Our oldest kid goes to Vanderbilt.” “Yes, this Rolex is a vintage.”

But status does not equal wealth. Naval Ravikant sums up status vs wealth nicely in part of his infamous “How to Get Rich (without getting lucky)” Twitter (X) thread:

To overcome the rollercoaster of emotions that come with fleeting status symbols in work and life, you’re better suited focusing your energy on connecting to a deeper intrinsic motivator.

I was reminded of this recently during a conversation with another sales coach. He was walking me through an exercise he learned at Amazon that uses writing to help his clients craft their “10X career stories.”

He had mentioned that he was moved by one of his clients who had spelled out in detail why he was working so hard to earn enough to step away from his corporate sales role completely. A part of this coach’s work to help clients create a detailed vision for their lives is to have them write an email to themself from their future self.

One of his clients has a disabled son who is about to finish full-time education. He needs to get out of the sales game so that he can retire and support his son. But it goes one step further. What he means by supporting his son is to launch a franchise of nonprofits that employ people with autism, which is the condition that his son severely suffers with.

When you care about something deeply, and you’ve written it out in detail from a future perspective, the status games become trivial. Instead, you remain calmly focused on what’s truly important and not get thrown off course when things are constantly moving up and down.

Treadmill be damned.

2. Reframe spending (live like a dirtbag)

In another recent conversation, this time with an AE at a cybersecurity company, he told me he had the chance to take some time off to travel with his brother and do some serious rock climbing (to the benefit of both their mental health).

He reminded me of the importance of embracing living like a dirtbag (a common mindset in the adventure community). Now I’m not suggesting you give up all of your earthly possessions to live on a park bench or share a cave with a bear, but the ethos is relevant, which is to seek out memories above money (or more appropriately, the traps that money can buy).

You’ve probably heard that the wealthiest person in the room is likely the hardest one to point out because they look like a homeless person. This ties into reframe #1, because when you stop playing status games, it naturally leads to spending your hard-earned income and commissions in new ways. You stop caring about what society and influencers tell you are important, and instead allocate your funds towards true freedom based on principles and rules that you define for yourself.

Why not spend it on the things that truly matter to you?

– Learning new skills or hobbies that bring you joy

– Creating lasting memories with your family and friends

– Assets that earn while you sleep to untether you from the corporate world

By unsubscribing from spending your dollars as a blind consumer, you become more conscious and purposeful with spending (or saving) your variable income. This keeps you operating in a more steady rhythm and evenly keeled emotional state.

As a +1 to this approach, I also recommend keeping a daily gratitude practice. Although budgets (like saving for a vacation or a bigger home) or bucket lists are practical and fun in theory, they actually keep you focused on the things you lack. A better place to harness your thoughts are on the things you already have.

Not only will you feel more fulfilled, but you will be more apt to stay in and appreciate the present moment. Even the smallest things – a smile from your partner, a delicious cup of coffee in the morning, the way the sunlight shines through your office window – can bring the biggest joys.

Certainly a much better alternative to the hectic treadmill.

3. Reframe work (and treat it as a craft)

Is it just me, or do the Japanese seem to have things figured out? From Ikigai, to low crime rates, to extremely clean habits, they certainly know how to put the Zen in Zen.

There’s one more gem we can thank the Japanese for – “Kodawari,” which is the spiritual pursuit of perfection in your craft. As Nikolas Konstantin recently shared on LinkedIn:

“To live your Kodawari, you pursue a deep commitment to quality, attention to detail, and a continuous striving for excellence.

Kodawari goes beyond skill and technique. Living “Kodawari” makes you emotionally and spiritually dedicated to the process. You take pride in what you do, no matter how minor or routine the task may be. You apply yourself entirely to achieve the highest standards.

Adopting the principles of Kodawari can transform the way you approach your work. Kodawari encourages you to focus on quality over quantity, value the process as much as the outcome, and to continuously improve and refine your skills.

How can you integrate Kodawari into your daily routines?

Kodawari starts with a mindset shift:

1. COMMIT TO EXCELLENCE

If it’s a small task or a significant project, approach your work with the intent to do it to the best of your ability. A path to excellence will open up.

2. FALL IN LOVE WITH THE DETAILS

The small things matter. Find excellence in the details that others might overlook. Learn to love the details.

3. NEVER STOP LEARNING

Mastery is a journey, not a destination. Find the room for improvement. Look for new skills to acquire that give you a new perspective.

This concept at the heart of Japanese artisans can help you find meaning and pride in your work. By embracing Kodawari, you will not only enhance the quality of your work but also find more profound satisfaction and meaning in what you do.”

When you reframe your work into a craft, you realize it’s a lifelong journey. There is always something new to learn. Some small detail to refine. A beauty in being fully present, intentional, and careful with the presentation…all traits that don’t jive with the frantic pace of the west, especially in American culture.

But this exactly is where peace is found.

Not running round and round in a way that gets you nowhere.

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING: Shift From Pain To Purpose: Understanding The Drive That Drives You

That’s a wrap. See you next week!

 

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