How to Reach Your Best by Not Giving a Damn

Ooh, a straight out there article on how to win by not caring if you win. Man, if we could just pull that off….

huhby Emilia Lahti

I am fully aware of the fact that my spell-checker shows a bright, blinking red line under the word satisficing. This likely means that the word is outside the realm of commonly used constructs and therefore you may have never heard of it. Over the past year, however, this previously unknown term became part of my essential vocabulary. As a matter of fact, I have learned a wonderful new strategy, which not only increased my subjective well-being (by freeing me from being the anal-retentive nitpicker/ruminator that I used to be), but also enabled me to tap into my full potential more than ever before. This is a quick post about harnessing your nervous system to get the results you want, while remaining happy as you pursue your goals.

I recently graduated from a master´s program that was as intense as it was mind-blowing and amazing. For the first four months, I was working full-time for the Consulate General of Finland, which meant that I usually put in 80-90 hours of combined academic and professional work each week. However, being a degree in positive psychology, it meant I also learned a trick or two about using your strengths and keeping your head above the water (well, at least most of the time).

It was one of our magnificent guest lecturers (honestly, have you ever heard of a program where most of the classes end with standing ovations from the students?), Dr. Barry Schwartz, who introduced me to the concept of satisficing. It simply means to not obsess about trying to maximize every single task outcome and ROI. It took about three months for the idea to marinate in my head, before I finally gave it one hesitant try. The results were revolutionary! Reduced anxiety (the opposite of what I thought would happen), a more pleasant work process with results which actually never turned out to be mediocre, and more quality time with my parasympathetic nervous system (which is the key here).

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