Tony Robbins: To have an ‘extraordinary quality of life,’ you need more than money—you need this

Tony Robbins
David A. Grogan | CNBC
Tony Robbins: You need these two skills to live a happy life

Setting a goal and reaching it often feels less satisfying than we might have imagined, says life and business strategist Tony Robbins.

He uses the example of thinking to yourself, "I want a relationship!", only to get into one and suddenly think, "I don't want a relationship!"

Culturally, people are driven to desire "consumption and achievement," Robbins tells CNBC Make It. As a result, often people run hard and fast to reach a goal they mistakenly believe will make them happy, but when they get there, they feel empty.

"Whatever you think making it is, when you get there, you'll see there's another level — that never ends, because if you stop growing you're going to be unhappy," says Robbins.

Achievement on its own is not enough.

An "extraordinary quality of life" first requires understanding what your personal priorities are, says Robbins. The notion of an "extraordinary quality of life" is "life on your terms, not my idea, but your terms," he says.

Every person needs to understand what is most important in their life: "For some people it's three beautiful children, for some people it is a billion-dollar business, for somebody else it's writing music — you know, it's different for everyone," Robbins says.

When his friend, the real estate businessman Steve Wynn, showed Robbins the Rothko painting he had bought for $86.9 million, Robbins says his response was: "That's a red square, Steve."

"My point is we're all fulfilled by different things," says Robbins. "Find out what you are fulfilled by."

The second piece to having an "extraordinary quality of life" is being able to turn that vision for yourself into reality.

"You need to master the science of achievement — the ability to take what you envision and make it real, the ability to execute, the ability when things don't work to shift and still get there. It's a set of skills," he says.

Robbins is a living testament to his own philosophies about how to live your best life. He built an empire for himself despite a difficult childhood. Robbins grew up in an abusive household — he has recounted being chased by his knife-wielding mother to CNBC — and in his early days worked as a night janitor.

Today, the 57-year-old runs an empire of more than 30 businesses set to do over $6 billion in revenue in 2017. He has been nicknamed the "CEO whisperer" for his ability to help leaders grow their businesses. He is inspired by what he does.

"I always tell people — if you want to know the secret to happiness, I can give it you in one word: progress. Progress equals happiness," says Robbins.

"When you achieve a goal it feels good for how long? A week? A month? Six months? A year? And then it doesn't feel so good, I don't care what it is you've achieved. And the reason is because life is not about achieving the goals. Life is about who you become in pursuit of those goals."

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