I'll be happy when

career leadership Sep 01, 2021

You’ve been lied to. You’ve been told happiness happens “when” you do or have something out there.  I”ll be happy WHEN something happens.

You set goals to go after something out there. Things like I’ll be happy when I…

  • Become a Chief Product Officer
  • Become a Director of Product
  • Get that job at one of the top companies in the world

But here’s the truth…

Whatever it is you think will make you happy “when” is backwards thinking. There’s a better, more powerful way to move through life. It is about enjoying the journey WHILE you work towards your goals.

Happiness is NOT an effect. It’s a cause.

Unfortunately, most people get this completely backwards. They expect some thing or event out there to make them happy, fulfilled, proud, etc…When that thing happens, they have a few moments of joy and then they are immediately moving onto ‘what should be the next goal.’

I call this the “I’ll Be Happy When… Syndrome”

I see this every day in the world of product management due to the nature of building products (with milestones, sprints, releases, etc.).

Fortunately, there’s a cure for this syndrome…


To get where you want to go, you are going to have to become a different person.

For me that means falling in love with the person I need to be WHILE I am becoming that person — not after. I do that by constantly asking and FEELING the answers to this question

How am I showing up today?

Am I showing up TODAY like the person I say I want to be in the future? Do I make decisions the way that person would? Are my principles, my standards, my actions, inline with that person I want to become?

If not, then I have very little shot of becoming that person. As the saying goes, practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect.


If you’re moving towards your goals then you are building skills. The skills you are building today are like stocking a pantry full of ingredients you can use to cook up anything you want in the future.

Appreciate that. Acknowledge that. Choose to be grateful and happy about those skills, even if they aren’t fully developed — yet.


As a hard core product manager, it’s easy to always be looking ahead at the next goal. The next accomplishment. And that’s great. It keeps you moving forward.

However, it can also cause you to miss, or discount, how far you’ve already come.

When you don’t take the time to notice your progress, it’s easy to get frustrated. And frustration kills momentum.

By acknowledging and being grateful for how far you’ve come, you get to enjoy life WHILE you move towards your goals.

At the Inspired Product Leader, our clients use these shifts and principles to level-up into leadership, reclaim their happiness at work, and become fired-up each day at work.  It is not just about the goal, it is about loving the journey.

It’s your choice. You can wait to be happy when or, you can choose to be happy as you learn and grow.

My hope for you is that you use the shifts above to choose to be happy now, while you continue to move closer and closer to your most audacious goals.

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