It's Thoughtful Thursday! This is a B2B blog, but we know even entrepreneurs can get burned out by news about marketing and tech by the time Thursday rolls around. The life of a professional, as you know, is a constant, busy pull between personal fulfillment and finding success in your career. Happiness can be a fickle and fleeting thing. Success is the word used to label what we are trying to achieve at the end of movement. In the professional world, "happiness" is sought out in conjunction with "success". How do you measure or attain these statuses? The first step is realizing that they are two completely different things and while you don't have to choose between them, one does not necessarily ever lead to the other.
Happiness is simply the state of being happy. There's not a one-size-fits-all solution to finding happiness because it is a completely subjective thought. To me, happiness can be derived from a productive week at work, sleeping in on weekends, a good cup of coffee, a full fridge, healthy dogs, feeling appreciated, my relationships with other people and myself. Success, on the other hand, is a more predictable, universal and nameable achievement: promotions, accolades, degrees, influence, wealth, etc. Success is whatever end-mark you set for yourself. Since success can take so much time and energy and attention to attain, a common mistake is setting aside happiness and claiming you'll find it again once you have success. This school of thought must be abandoned. Happiness doesn't come with success. Instead, successes and accomplishments are much more likely to follow happiness. Simply put, would you rather set goals for success while you're happy or while you're unhappy?
"Great, Anna. Very insightful. Now how do fulfill myself and reach happiness so that I can be more productive and successful in the long run?"
You have to pay attention to yourself all the time. It's a lifestyle choice that sounds greedy and narcissistic to those who haven't dared to try it. The more in tune you are with yourself, the more apparent your needs will be and thus, easier to fulfill. For instance: When you're anxious about something work related, before you call your best friend or coworker or talk to your partner about it, put aside time by yourself to mull things over. Find the heart of your worry. Figure out which aspects of the situation you can control. Decide how you feel about the aspects you don't control. Do the things you can, plan to comfort yourself in the event that things don't work out in your favor, set goals to amend the things about yourself that hold you back.
I'm not saying you should ditch your friends and family and go live as a hermit to seek true happiness. Relationships with other people are an important ingredient in happiness as well as leading a successful life. Just set aside an amount of time that is equal to at least a quarter of the time you make for networking, friendships, family and your daily work and use that time to just pay attention to yourself. Do you feel healthy? Are you happy in all of your relationships? What's your next career step? What things need to change? This time can come during an exercise regime, your daily morning routine, your commute, etc. Try to do it everyday. Get happy. You'll think more clearly, make better choices and feel less guilty or jilted when you must make sacrifices; which you'll certainly have to do from time to time.
Remember though, I said happiness doesn't necessarily give way to success. However, knowing what you really want and what you're willing to do about it can make the road there a heck of a lot smoother.
by Anna Epps