But will it make you happy?

Funny face

Various world and personal events from the past few weeks, coupled with the holiday season, have had me reflecting on work, life, and beyond. The context for the following insight is applicability to business strategy; however, you can see how easily it applies to other areas.

People are bad at estimating how much pleasure or pain they will feel if their circumstances change dramatically. Social scientists have shown that when people undergo major changes in circumstances, their lives typically are neither as bad nor as good as they had expected. People adjust surprisingly quickly, and their level of pleasure ends up, broadly, where it was before.

This research strikes a chord with anyone who has studied compensation trends in the investment-banking industry. Ever-higher compensation during the 1990s led only to ever-higher expectations — not to a marked change in the general level of happiness on the Street.

— “Hidden flaws in strategy,” McKinsey Quarterly, March 2003

This certainly isn’t a vote for inertia and the status quo. Just know that the grass on the other side may actually be greener by all objective measures — but you’ll get used to it soon enough.

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