The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

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What Is A 'State of Being'?

A State of Being is a quality of your present experience.

States of Being are qualities, not Goals. "Being happy" is not an achievement, it's a state.

Breaking down States of Being into smaller parts helps decide what some imprecise states actually mean to you.

Decide what States of Being you want to experience, and you'll have a powerful decision criteria that you can use to evaluate your actions.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'States of Being'

One of the mistakes I constantly see people making when setting goals is assuming everything is an achievement.

Think of statements like "I want to be happy," "I want to feel excited," and "I want to be successful." How do you know if you've achieved what you set out to do? Can you really achieve happiness, excitement, or success if your day-to-day experience changes?

A State of Being is a quality of your present experience.

Emotional experiences aren't achievements because they fluctuate over time-you can be happy right now, and upset an hour from now. Accordingly, "being happy" is not an achievement-it's a quality of your present experience.

States of Being are decision criteria, not Goals. It's okay to want to "be happy" or "be successful," but treating these desires as goals is a recipe for frustration.

Instead of treating these states as achievements, it's far better to think of them as decision criteria-ways of understanding whether or not your actions are leading to your desired results.

States of Being help you answer the question, "Is what I'm doing right now working?"

For example, if you want to feel happy, you may notice that spending time with close friends and family members creates the experience you want, so making time for those things is obviously important. If you want to feel calm, but your job is making you stressed out all the time, it's clear the situation needs to change-what you're doing isn't working.

Breaking down complex States of Being into smaller parts is even more useful. Instead of using complex states of being like "success" and "happiness" as decision criteria, it's far better to decide what these states actually mean to you.

For example, I define "being successful" as "working on things I enjoy with people I like," "feeling free to choose what I work on," and "having enough money to live without financial stress."

Together, these states of being provide a much more useful definition of success-if that's how I'm experiencing the world, I'm "successful."

The same goes for "happiness." Instead of being a single State of Being, "being happy" is a combination of "having fun," "spending time with people I love," and "feeling calm and free." When those States of Being describe my experience in the present moment, I'm "happy." Breaking down "happiness" into its component parts helps me ensure I'm doing things that will help me experience it more fully.

Decide what States of Being you want to experience, and you'll have a powerful set of decision criteria you can use to evaluate the results of your actions in an entirely new and useful way.

Questions About 'States of Being'


"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."

Douglas Adams, humorist and author of the Hitchhiker's Guide series


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/states-of-being/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

More about Josh Kaufman →