My happiness recipe and special formula to setting the right goals


The worst is when I’m looking for direction in my life–when I’ve hit some I don’t know what the fuck to do right now moment, and I deep trek through YouTube to find an answer and the answer I find is:

Just find your passion and create goals around those passions… or some shit like that.

It’s like yeah, but the whole fuckin reason I’m watching this damn video to begin with is cause I’m lacking passion and have no idea what goal to set. You can’t start out with the answer that I’m looking for and explain what to do from that point on…

What if everything is interesting? That’s generally my problem. I love writing, sketching, reading, talking with people, road trips, PR stunts, luxury travel, budget backpacking, paragliding, beaches, mountains, lakes, camping (until I hate it an hour after it starts), neuroscience, philosophy, psychology, archeology, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, filmmaking, history, space, foreign languages… I mean, everything is interesting. So, I had to come up with a way of my own to find the passion I should actually focus on.

I’m a huge calendar guy. My calendar was bought in the 1980’s section of Staples in a small town in Pennsylvania on my way back from Tennessee a month ago and it’s with me right here. I can’t use computer software to build my schedule, I need white boards and datebooks.

I don’t know why I just wrote that. Anyway, I discovered that there’re three types of goals I usually set (knowingly or now) and I figured out how to measure them based on the level of my satisfaction after completion. That’s the system: reverse engineer happiness.

In order to understand which goals bring me happiness, first I need to figure out what ingredients the previous goals I’ve set that made me happy have in common, and as many psychologists and neuroscientists have concluded: humans are a goal-oriented species that need to consistently be making progress towards something (anything) to feel good.

My happiness recipe:

  1. It must be something that took time.
  2. It must be something that took extreme patience.
  3. It must be something that was fucking hard to complete.

Here’s an easier way to think of it… what is my reaction after I’ve finished previous shit in my life? I normally do one of three things:

  • Share it (simply tell someone)
  • Brag about it (tell everyone in my life)
  • or smile (the work speaks for itself)

If I’m ONLY willing to share it on Facebook or whatever, then I know it’s a Level 1 accomplishment. Level 1 accomplishments are usually the easiest way possible to kinda to get close to a Level 3 accomplishment. Examples of Level 1 accomplishments are things like writing a blog post, sketching a cartoon, finishing a dense book, or writing one chapter of a book I hope to complete.

If I want to brag about it to the world, then I know it was a level 2 accomplishment. Level 2 accomplishments are usually the first step of a Level 3 accomplishment, like recording a great podcast episode or scheduling a guest I’m excited about; getting accepted to attempt to break a new world record or completing the first draft of a new book.

If I just sit back and smile, I know the work speaks for itself and I’ve accomplished a Level 3 accomplishment. These are usually when I’ve finished a Level 2 accomplishment, like breaking a Guinness World Record. publishing a new book, launching the podcast (as opposed to completing episodes), or writing a blog post everyday for a year.

Knowing this about myself, I can observe myself to see what I brag about most, which likely means that out of all my “passions”, this is the one that I should develop and pursue at the moment.

Posting a blog post is not something I brag about, but posting every day for a year is, so I know I need to make that a priority and set aside time every day to write a blog post.

Publishing my book was one my most prized accomplishments, so I know I need to start writing a new book ASAP. And I did. I’m writing a book now all about road trip hacks, travel sex hacks, hostel hacks, health on the road hacks and everything you would need to know to travel the world like a fucking gangster. It’s called tentatively titled: Vagabond Secrets. So, I know I need to set aside time every day to work on that. Usually it’s about an hour.

I tell every person in the world about my podcast interviews, so that means I need to make that a top priority. I love talking with interesting travelers with crazy stories to tell. So, I know that I need to spend time choosing people that I really want to interview and reach out to them via email, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Frendster, HotorNot–whatever the hell I need to do to get ahold of them, that’s what I gotta do.

So the moral of this story is: observe yourself to see what made you happy in the past, then figure out what goal got you there. The way to do that is to find the stories that you are always bragging about, then just do it again.

Get rid of all the Level 1 accomplishments because they generally just eat away precious time and you don’t even care that much about them, so why do it?

If you actually understood that, hopefully it helps. If it made no sense at all, that’s understandable. I’ll write a new post about something different tomorrow.

About the author


I'm a high school dropout who escaped reform school when I was sixteen and hitchhiked the country as a homeless teen till I finally made sense of the world. I now work as a travel writer, marketer, publicist, I published a book and broke the guinness world record for longest road trip. I've done some other crazy shit too. But I'm still alive and seven years sober. Enjoy my insanity...

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