Paul Barrett

Growth is good and it feels good.

In all aspects of life, be it business acumen, emotional intelligence or fitness, human beings are typically happiest when they are learning and progressing.

Admittedly, growing and being stretched can be momentarily uncomfortable. For example, going to the gym is hard yakka and noone likes being pulled up on their poor behaviour, even though it usually makes them better.

The alternative to growth is regression and when people are going backwards, be it in their career, health or financial position, they are typically unhappy.

Yet those who challenge others to be the best they can be are often criticised for being too pushy or demanding.

Australians have a tendency to admire people who are laid back, relaxed and chill.

But, in their twilight years, it is often those who didn’t push themselves and didn’t achieve much who have the biggest regrets.

In our industry, there are plenty of financial advisers and business owners who are content chugging along and have no plans to change. They are content serving 150 clients, generating $1 million in annual revenue and earning a relatively modest salary.

They are not hungry to grow their business and, therefore, unlikely to reach their full potential but they’re okay with that, at least right now.

The question is, how will they feel 10 to 15 years down the track, when their ambitious peers have built large businesses of significant capital value?

How will they feel when the time comes to retire and they can’t find a successor to buy their business and take care of staff and clients?

Imagine yourself at age 80, reflecting on life. The degree of happiness and satisfaction you feel at 80 will probably be linked to the quality of decisions and judgement you exercised throughout your life.

In short, the formula for happiness and fulfilment is maximising good decisions and minimising poor decisions. I refer to this as the happiness coefficient.