How Entrepreneurs can Get Off the Hedonic Treadmill

The hedonic treadmill is a trap that too many entrepreneurs (and others) fall into without actually realizing it. This perpetual cycle of returning to the same relative state of happiness is a phenomenon that was first officially recognized in the 1970’s. However, since that time, there’s been very little public awareness about it. Although, people of all kinds continue to experience it to this day, in particular, the most successful executives and business owners being among them. Fortunately, there are ways to escape this mindset.

The Hedonic Treadmill Explained

The hedonic treadmill is fairly easy to understand. It simply means that individuals return to their baseline of happiness after big accomplishments. Put another way, when someone reaches a worthwhile goal, he or she will only feel the euphoria of the accomplishment for a short period of time, and then return to his or her previous level of happiness.
As soon as we hit a goal, we’re happy for a few days (or seconds) but then we quickly focus on the next (and bigger) thing we want to achieve. I’m totally guilty of this myself as well. And sure, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you do, make sure it comes from the right place of mind. Make sure it comes from a place of abundance and not out of scarcity, or else it might just do some serious damage. Whenever you find yourself on the ‘hedonic treadmill’, it’s quite hard to get off. In fact, it’ll never stop until you consciously make it stop yourself. —
While that seems completely logical and understandable, it creates an ongoing cycle in which people attempt to return to that feeling of happiness time and again. In other words, the happiness of achieving the goal wears off and therefore, other goals must be reached to continue to feel that sense of reward. Obviously, this can easily lead to very unacceptable behaviors, including things that are ethically and morally wrong.

Effective Ways Business Owners can Avoid the Hedonic Treadmill

Like any other type of harmful cycle, one must recognize one’s own behavior in order to make the necessary corrections. As with other unhealthy practices, with a few strategic changes, it’s possible to step off the hedonic treadmill by doing the following:
  • Practice gratitude. This is a very simple way to not only recognize, but relish accomplishments and put them into perspective. For instance, opening a new location in order to serve a growing customer base is a huge win for any business. However, there will be challenges with doing so and it certainly doesn’t mean there won’t be any obstacles to deal with in the future. So, feeling a sense of gratitude when it is deserved but understanding that there are still future challenges is essential.
  • Be more optimistic. Most entrepreneurs are optimistic by the very nature. Still, there are going to be instances when even the most optimistic person lets their emotions turn pessimistic. Again, putting your thoughts and feelings into perspective will greatly help you deal with issues that arise in the course of doing business.
  • Adopt a balanced life. Obviously, all work with very little or no play will certainly feed into someone being trapped on a business-centric, hedonic treadmill. If you are willing and able to strike a better balance, you’ll feel more satisfaction in your life overall.
  • Accept certain limitations. Everyone has their limitations. While most entrepreneurs don’t like to accept their shortcomings, the ones who do and partner up with people who excel in areas where they lack, tend to be the most successful. So, know your limitations and play to your strengths.
  • Set truly meaningful goals. There are many types of goals you can set as a business owner. But, the bottom line doesn’t have to revolve around all of them. For example, if you create a pleasant working environment, your employees will be grateful, which improves morale, and ultimately, makes it a great place of camaraderie.
  • Our Client’s Top Salesperson is on the Treadmill. One of our clients has a top sales person that functions on a Hedonic Treadmill, so she has little empathy for others. As long as she keeps winning the next big deal, it reinforces the ongoing cycle of what seems to make her happy. Consequently, when deals are not closing, her demeanor causes challenges with our clients technicians and staff.
What other suggestions do you have? Please take a few moments to share your thoughts and experiences so others can benefit from your unique perspective! Your input could really help someone out! Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

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