We’re led to believe that successful people are the ones who have it all. They earn high salaries, own big houses, have a million Instagram followers and holiday in 5 star hotels. But what about happiness? Where does that sit on the list of requirements we need to be successful? Happiness is assumed to happen as a result of having more. We all think we’d be happier if we could just win the lottery, yet there are plenty of miserable millionaires out there. I’ve even met a few.
preconceptions of success
I had a good job in HR by most people’s standards, but I hated it. It didn’t suit my personality and I got bullied. When I quit, I had no other job lined up. I talked my husband into letting me join his financial management business and for so long, I felt like I had failed. Even though I’d done an exciting thing by becoming self employed, I felt like I’d given up. I didn’t earn as much money to begin with or have a career of my own, none of which are considered successful by millennial standards.
Decluttering my life gave me the headspace I needed to realise what success really meant to me – it was happiness. This is still my measure of success now and I’ve no plans to change it. Happiness definitely didn’t come from the salary I earned spending 37.5 hours a week in a job I couldn’t stand, no matter how much it paid. Happiness didn’t come from all the stuff I bought with that hard earned salary either. Switching to a more minimal lifestyle proved that to me. It turns out, buying less is actually the easiest way to boost your earnings.
Success = happiness
It took a while but one day it finally dawned on me that I hadn’t failed by quitting and I’d been beating myself up for no reason. What I’d actually done was prioritise my happiness and been brave enough to take control of my life – that’s a far cry from failure. I’d talked someone into giving me a great opportunity and now I was working for a business I believed in, one I was wholly invested in. Now, I could strategise to my hearts content, work from home without anybody breathing down my neck and have all the freedom my old job never gave me. For an INTJ like me, this is the perfect job. I was so much happier since taking the leap, I just hadn’t married happiness with success until now.
Perhaps success isn’t what we’re all led to believe it is. Perhaps, it’s something much more unique to each of us and actually comes from filling our lives with what makes us truly happy, whatever that may be. On closer inspection, what makes us happy and therefore successful might not be what we thought it was. It might be having the ability to say no to an eighty hour work week so we can spend time with our family or having the freedom to travel to the places we daydream of. There’s no doubt that money matters and those bills need to be paid, but working ourselves to death to earn more so that we can buy more is not the solution.
When I think of my future self, I don’t imagine myself as being successful in terms of having stays in 5 star hotels, driving a flashy car or owning a mansion. These things don’t matter to me and they certainly don’t add value to my life. I imagine myself as someone who’s success lies in having lived a life that was true to themselves, that aligns with their values and someone who’s contributed to others in a positive way. Numbers have nothing to do with it for me.
We’re programmed to asses our self-worth based on our number whether that be our salary, our followers or even our sales figures. Realising these numbers were not my self-worth was a complete game changer for me and I’d encourage anyone to realise the same. If you’re measuring success in numbers, you’ve got it all wrong and I don’t believe this approach to life can ever bring us true happiness.
What does success mean to you and where does happiness sit on your list of requirements? Let me know in the comments below.
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