PLANNING & Forget Bucket Lists. The Formula for Satisfaction Is Actually the Opposite, Says Harvard Professor. Social Scientist Arthur Brooks’ theory of reverse bucket lists is a powerful way to remove too many ‘wants’ and enjoy our existing ‘haves.’

by Jeff Steen, Inc. Magazine, 3/23/22.

… Here’s the idea in a nutshell: Bucket lists are filled with wants and dreams. When we get what we want or achieve our dreams, it’s a nice feeling, says Brooks — at least for a while. Then we need something else.

It all comes back to the “satisfaction formula”: Satisfaction = getting what you want. But you never really stop wanting things and so, well, are you ever really satisfied?

Brook has spent a great deal of time parsing this formula and the human behaviors that enable it. What he uncovered was a missing piece. The formula should actually look like this, he says: Satisfaction = what you have / what you want.

While we can, to some extent, increase our haves, our real control lies in our wants. If we whittle down the wants, our satisfaction increases. In others words, if we create reverse bucket lists — lists of wants to do away with — we’ll find ourselves closer to satisfaction in the present.

… What does this look like in business? As with most wants, they can be large or small. Say, for example, you want a bigger office — but the price tag would require you to hold off on the rollout of new employee benefits or raises. Ask yourself: Do I NEED a new office? Or is it merely a want (reverse bucket list)? And if it’s a want, how can I turn it instead into money, supplies, or support for my team (giving list)?

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