There are really only five things that make us happy.
Relationships, Purpose, Finances, Creativity and Wellness. Sure, you might argue with me about the semantics here, but that’s really all there is. And finding fulfillment and balance amongst these five things is key to a happy life.
When I was just out of college, my sister introduced me to this concept through a simple exercise called The Wheel of Life assessment. The idea is to take a pause once or twice a year and rate yourself in each area so that you know what you can improve. The number of categories may vary, but the idea is the same. Here’s one with eight categories:
You can create however many slices you want. This year, I went with 3 or 4 subcategories under each section, creating 17 different slices. (For the full list I used, see the end of this article.) And I also tried something new. Instead of just creating a wheel and shading it in, I made a spreadsheet and used a weighted value system to stack rank prioritization.
I thought it would be fun to give the assessment a bit more rigor by applying a product management technique to it, which it was. But it also it got me thinking about the role that technology plays in our pursuit of happiness.
Jeff Morris, Director of Product & Revenue at Tinder recently Tweeted:
We create software to make us productive, sure, but ultimately it’s happiness that we’re after. In enterprise software it’s easy to spot the connection: productivity software provides business and career value. But I think you can also look at the Wheel of Life as a framework for other pain points (personal development, mental health, spiritual health, community and environment to name a few) that need real solutions, too.
The best software will rank highly in the categories with the most perceived value, high pain and a strong willingness to pay. This is best represented by the "Power Score" column in my sheet here. And because there are so many potential categories (17 for me) and life is dynamic, these factors are different for everyone at different points. This means that there’s a lot of room for creative solutions for Happiness as a Service (HaaS).
One such example I was happy to discover via YC’s Demo Day this year is Monaru, which focuses on the Relationship aspect of our lives. We all know that relationships — family, friends, business contacts — are important, but we tend to take them for granted and don't readily apply a dollar value to them.
I’m terrible about remembering birthdays and keeping up with a lot of old friends. Maybe I'm not good at it, or maybe I just don't like doing it, but I know it's important to me. And I was actually just recently thinking that I need to improve in these areas when I came across Monaru.
Monaru is a personal assistant for your relationships — helping you be more thoughtful and consistent in your communication and gifting. I don’t know how much of it is AI vs. human-powered yet, but I’m excited to find out and see how the experience is. I’ve scheduled my intake session for later this week, so will have more to report on later.
Especially as the lines between personal life and work continue to blur together, I’m particularly interested in software that helps you get leverage in both simultaneously. I’ll reiterate a couple of stats you’ve probably heard before: over 50% all millennials have a side hustles and by 2027, over 50% of the American workforce is predicted to be freelance.
This tells me that the nature of enterprise software will change to be more personal and human. Some, like Andrew Chen, are calling this the 'consumerization' of the enterprise. But it also tells me that consumer software will become more professionalized over time, too. And I think the most interesting and exciting solutions will be ones that seamlessly cross over from your personal life to your work life, enhancing both at once.
P.S. If you're interested in an edit-able version of the Happiness as a Service spreadsheet, let me know on Twitter or shoot me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
17 Slices to Happiness
- Primary relationship / significant other
- Family relationships
- Social (friends and community) relationships
Prosperity / Financial
- Income now
- Money management and budgeting
- Freedom and financial peace
- Business and career
- Life purpose clarity and fulfillment
- Contribution and legacy
- Fun & level of life engagement
- Adventure & expansion
- Creative pursuits
- Physical health & fitness
- Physical environment
- Mental & emotional health
- Spiritual & personal growth