Marshall and Kelly Goldsmith, management consultants, completed a survey of 3,000 people to obtain insight into what makes people happy and gives meaning to their lives both at home and at work.
Those surveyed included well-educated managers, entrepreneurs and professionals, almost equally divided between men and women.
Five recommendations emerged from the study:
1. Watch less television. Television viewing may entertain,
but it doesn’t increase satisfaction or meaning.
2. Don’t waste time surfing the Web. Spending time on the
Internet robs individuals of happiness and purpose.
3. Do as few chores as you can (however you define chores).
4. Spend time exercising and socialize with people you
5. Keep yourself challenged.
The first three statements are negatively proscriptive; that is, they tell us what not to do. Don’t waste time watching television, surfing the Web or performing routine chores. The last two suggestions are positively proscriptive; that is, they tell us how to spend our time. Exercise and socialize with those we love and work on challenging tasks.
The survey results may not surprise you, although you might have noticed, as I did, that there is no recommendation for spending time on spiritual growth, meditation or reflection. Setting the spiritual dimension aside, the results affirm what we know instinctively—that our days are numbered and that we need to allocate our day-to-day moments in meaningful ways.
Marshall Goldsmith is an executive coach and the author of Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Kelly Goldsmith is an assistant professor of marketing at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.