Success and happiness are the two most common things people go after.
It’s one thing to be successful and another to be happy. Only a few people gain the wisdom and knowledge to pursue both.
So I’m on a quest to find a way to combine the habits of successful and happy people.
When I read the habits of successful people, I’m always impressed by how organized their day looks like.
But what about the habits of happy people who tend to live long? Do you think they live with a rigid schedule too?
As you may have guessed, the answer is no in most cases.
That’s when I realized…
The way you approach your day says a lot about how successful or happy you will become.
Some people chase success while others chase happiness more.
But if you’re like me, you want to experience both. 😉
And now, you’re thinking…
Is it possible to get the best of both worlds?
Can you design your day in a way that makes you successful without feeling too stressed or anxious?
So I analyzed both approaches for understanding the pros and cons better.
Pros Of “Scheduling Hours” Approach 👍
1. More productivity
Productivity is of utmost importance for ambitious people. And if you block your calendar or follow routines and rituals, you’re most likely to get things done.
2. More certainty in life
When you plan ahead, you live an intentional life because most of the events in your life are certain.
3. More disciplined approach
You don’t rely on willpower or motivation to do things because you do them when the time comes. More discipline now leads to freedom in the future.
As Jocko Willink says, “Discipline equals freedom”.
Cons Of “Scheduling Hours” Approach 👎
1. More stressful or anxiety-provoking approach
Tracking time and keeping up with the schedule may give rise to more stress and anxiety if things don’t go as planned.
2. Less spontaneity or novelty
When you live a pre-planned life, there is less space for experiencing novelty which is great for creativity and intelligence.
3. Less savory of moments
Being occupied may keep you from savoring the beauty of the present moment. It may also make you obsessed with utilizing every waking hour.
Pros of “Going With The Flow” Approach 👍
1. More flexibility
You become spontaneous and flexible to whatever life may offer you. You don’t sweat the small stuff and adapt well to the circumstances.
2. Less stress or anxiety
You don’t keep checking your watch every few minutes. You don’t let the time steal your calm.
3. More happiness in the present
Time affluence is a concept in positive psychology which is the feeling you get when you feel you have an abundance of time. This feeling makes you happy, and it lets you enjoy the present.
Cons of “Going With The Flow” Approach 👎
1. Less control over life
You may become the victim of how your day unfolds as you lose control over the events in your life.
2. More distractions
When you go with the flow, it’s easy to procrastinate or get distracted because you don’t have hyper-focused time blocks.
3. More uncertainty in life
Life may become a chaos and you may not be reliable to dictate your future.
Both approaches have their upsides and downsides.
In most cases, Type-A personalities do things in an orderly way whereas Type-B personalities like to go with the flow.
It’s not that you can’t be happy and successful if you have one personality or the other.
The trick is to be aware of your nature and then bring balance to it according to how you want to live your life.
Identify which of the two styles is closer to how you live your days.
If you are 100% satisfied with your approach, then keep it that way because it works for you. But if you’d like to experiment, then explore the possibility of bringing balance from the other style of living.
When it comes to me, I’m more of a Type-A, structured person. So here’s how I’ve customized my approach:
- I structure my MIT (most important tasks) the old-fashioned way. I like to have the discipline for my priorities which gives me freedom in the future.
- I keep a daily success checklist and simply check off items. I don’t have all the habits scheduled in my calendar. They are on the checklist and I do them in the order of importance or the time required to do them. Some days, I miss a few habits but that’s fine as long as I recognize it and don’t feel too bad about it.
- Some parts of my day are unstructured and open to possibilities. I go with the flow of life and stop trying to be a control freak. I let novelty, uncertainty, and spontaneity show up.
- I leave some buffer time for the structured tasks so I’m not always running out of time. This saves me from the anxiety that comes when the time is running out.
- I take brief pauses to appreciate the present moment. Whether it’s a pleasant moment or a moment of agony; I accept, reframe it (if I have to) and seize it.
- When unplanned events or inevitable distractions show up in my day, I embrace them as healthy challenges to deal with the situation in the best way I can. I take full responsibility and stop blaming, complaining or moaning so I can focus on what I can control and let go of what I can not.
- If possible, I simplify, automate or delegate tasks. Decluttered environment, automated regular tasks and bought time — all contribute to more happiness.
- I say “no” or “yes” intentionally. My default answer is no to most additional stuff in life. Because every time I add something, I have to remove something from my life. I say “yes” only when:
a) Something excites me.
b) Something adds value to my life.
c) I see it as an opportunity for growth or joy.
d) I want to help someone out.
Side note: Hat tip to Derek Sivers for the “Hell yeah or no” philosophy.
My approach may change in the future but this is how I like to design my day according to my personality, goals, and preference.
Whatever your approach may be, the most important thing is to be intentional about it.
The last thing you want is to get drowned in a scheduled calendar or blame life for getting in your way of success.
To me, a day is successful when it has a good balance of growth and peace. Growth stems from ambition and peace comes from savoring the moment.
Now it’s your turn. How will you seize the day?