There is this pernicious myth that the inability to achieve a specific goal, earn riches, live in a certain place, acquire that next thing, or have your dream job is the reason for your unhappiness.
If this were true, then every athlete who wins that world championship, or earned the opportunity to play at the next level would be happy. Further, every wealthy business person would be a model of happiness. However, that is not the case.
Jerry West, the logo of the NBA and one of the greatest shooting guards in basketball history, perfectly illustrates how nothing in the material world can bring lasting happiness. In his memoir, “West by West: My Charmed, Tormented Life,” he chronicles his issues with lifelong depression and recurrent suicidal thoughts.
Obviously, there is most definitely a genetic and environmental interaction that predisposes some to depression and protects others from it. But when the mystery and wonder of life is reduced to a binary measure of whether you achieved a goal or not, life can become quite bleak.
So if nothing will bring lasting happiness what will? Progress!
Happiness is not found in reaching your destination, but in travelling well. It is okay to be ambitious and have big hairy audacious goals, but do not obsessively need the goal to be completed successfully to be happy or fulfilled.
Paradoxically, when you let go of needing to achieve your goal and just focus on making progress and doing your best you will surprisingly achieve more than you could have imagined.