Someone once asked me what my biggest life goal was. Almost without hesitating I was able to share my response. Peace of mind. This response clearly threw my inquisitor off guard. I’m quite sure they were expecting ‘world domination’ or an Italian sports car and a house in the Hollywood Hills.
The perhaps unfortunate reality of life is that (as the saying goes) money can’t buy happiness. It’s so true. Money can buy a lot of things but not happiness and certainly not peace of mind. I was reminded of this just before Christmas at a party with a bunch of the smartest tech people I know. The group is a mix of Irish and international engineers. You will most likely have used the technology built by some of these guys but will not likely ever know it. I mention this to contextualise the collective intelligence involved.
A common theme that evening was purpose. The consensus was that unless you’re solving a problem, and making the world a better place, that you are wasting your time and will never be settled, mentally. This is an important lesson to note if you’re ever hiring somebody with a technical or engineering mindset. Smart engineers are most often motivated by solving interesting problems more than by monetary reward. That doesn’t mean to say they don’t like money — just that their biggest driver is the pursuit of interesting problems to solve.
One of the guys shared a great example. On of his friend’s had invented a small piece of technology that generates him, on average, US$ 500m with next to no ongoing effort required to maintain this product. You’d think you’d be happy with this type of passive income right? Apparently though this guy is constantly striving to reach some kind of higher purpose. Fascinating eh?
Even more fascinating was how much this story seemed to resinate with the other engineers present. It also massively resonated with me. Although I’m not technically an engineer, I do have an engineering approach to problem solving and studied economics at university, a subject that is often classed as a science. The reason this story resonated with me was because of how closely it tied back into my belief that peace of mind sits at the top of human motivation (as defined at least in Psychology by Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — a model of human motivation).
It’s my contention that if we can’t achieve peace of mind (whatever that means for us) we will never be happy no matter how much money we earn. For me, peace of mind means that I am not worrying about things. Most importantly it means that I am able to exist at peace in the present rather that rushing about all the time full of negative energy. I achieve this goal by maintaining a healthy diet, taking lots of exercise and avoiding toxic people like the plague. Achieving peace of mind requires a fair amount of work but it is well worth the effort of pursuing!
What do you guys think? What makes you happy? What are your biggest goals and do you think you will ever achieve them?! Let me know in the comments!