Elite AgentMindset and Personal DevelopmentOPINION

Shane Kempton: How to be happier right now

As you read this, gym memberships are going through the roof, people are bringing soup and protein shakes to work, sales of nonalcoholic drinks are increasing, and goals to have the ‘best year ever‘ are being set far and wide.

This is all in the name of being happy.

I love that. They are great goals.

However, many people will delay their happiness until they achieve these results.

That’s not so good, and it’s why many people rarely fulfil their New Year’s resolutions.

Come February, gym attendance will most likely be down, a burger and chips will replace the protein shake, habits from 2023 will have crept back in and many will have had a beer or two for Australia Day.

Where does that leave your happiness levels if they were reliant upon the successful outcome of those new year goals?

In our industry, New Year’s resolutions often start with people setting themselves financial goals for the next 12 months.

Happiness levels are often connected to such goals, along with sales agents saying things like, “I’ll be happy when I’m a million-dollar agent”, or “When I drive … (insert desired car/helicopter/jet here).  

Again, there is nothing wrong with this goal, or any financial goal, as long as it’s your goal, not someone else’s expectation of you; and your happiness is not tied to the outcome, because it doesn’t have to be.

A New Year’s resolution recommendation

My recommendation for 2024 and beyond is to choose to ‘be happier’ now before anything happens.

On first reading that sentence, it could be perceived as a negative.

That is, best be happy before something goes wrong.

But that’s not the intent.

Notice I say ‘happier’ and not ‘happy’.

Happy is not an outcome or destination, but a state of being.

The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “happiness” as “The state of being happy“. 

This is an important distinction.

From a positive psychology perspective, happiness has been defined as “subjective wellbeing”.

That means, if it’s subjective, you (not anything external) can have the ultimate say in your individual happiness.

It suggests you can choose to ‘be’ happier ‘now’ before ‘needing’ anything to happen in your life, such as becoming a million-dollar agent or any other external goal.

If we dig a little deeper, the Greek philosopher Aristotle made a distinction between two different kinds of happiness: Hedonia and Eudaimonia.

  • Hedonia (or pleasure-based happiness)is based on doing what feels good, self-care, fulfilling desires, experiencing enjoyment, and feeling a sense of satisfaction.
  • Eudaimonia (or meaning-based happiness) is the sense that your life has meaning, value, and purpose via fulfilling responsibilities like service for other people and living up to personal ideals.

More recently, psychologists have also suggested that ‘engagement’, or the feeling of commitment, contribution and participation, plays a big part in our happiness.

Again, these are things within your control.

A meaningful process

By applying all the above psychological and neuroscience insights to our real estate career you can be happier right now.

Think about it, from a Eudaimonia perspective, as real estate professionals, you have the wonderful purpose and privilege of serving other humans and assisting them to have shelter, security, build wealth, raise families and create memories in a home.

Every task you do to bring buyers and sellers, tenants and landlords together, is another step in this meaningful process.

Of course, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.

Some of these tasks can be uncomfortable and take you out of our comfort zone.

However, again, when you do hard things, it gives you the opportunity to feel satisfaction, a key element in happiness, when you complete them.

And if you don’t have the skills to do the task, it creates a learning opportunity for you to grow and progress, which is another key element of happiness.

By embracing the process, learning and growing from challenges, you can find joy in the small victories.

Yes, having the goals of wealth, health and success are important, but you don’t need to tie your ultimate happiness to their achievement.

You can be happier now by finding fulfilment in connecting to the greater meaning in your role and in the journey of personal and professional growth in your real estate career.

Finally, focussing on the day-to-day tasks that comprise your purpose, keeps you grounded in the present moment, which is another key element of being happier.

You experience more regret, anxiety, and stress when you are not living in the present, but focusing on the past or the future, with ‘if only’ and ‘what if’ thinking.

Yes, your best days are ahead of you, however they are based on what you are doing right now.

The beautiful thing about having a positive and content mindset, is that it can enhance your performance and client relationships.

Be happier right now

Regardless of the role we play (salesperson, property manager, administrator, or leader), we can find fulfilment in the greater purpose of what it means to serve in the real estate industry.

Your happiness ideals do not need to rely upon achieving goals, which have elements outside of our control (market conditions, interest rates and dare I say pandemics etc).

Rather, you can choose to be happier right now, by shifting your focus from final outcomes to appreciating each step toward success and the process of your own personal growth and improvement, as you deliver on your responsibilities.

It can be a Happy New Year if you choose to ‘be happier now’.

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Shane Kempton

Shane Kempton is the CEO of Harcourts WA and the network high performance coach.