Not Click Bait
It seems like such a click-bait idea – happiness and success together- the peanut butter and jelly of lifelong satisfaction. It’s what we all want. But these two things seem unattainable. That’s because neither exist completely but are constantly changing in one way or another. More accurately, your definition of happiness and success constantly changes. It can be influenced by external factors such as: society’s standards , comparing our life to others, personal perfectionism etc. But, I am here to tell that you can be happy and do what you love, it just starts with one thing (and I’m not telling you yet).
You’ve probably guessed this article will not be a step-by-step guide on how to make serious cash or how to find a career where you sit on a beach for a living – though possible (I’m guessing) – this is not what this post is about. If you’re like me, you aren’t searching for big money schemes , rather you value having satisfaction in your life and work more. So, I want to focus on the most important part of that- your mental attitude.
Attitude plays a key role in how to maintain your happiness – success does not. Let’s make that clear, because I think a lot of people need to be reminded of that. Success does not make you happy. You either allow yourself to be happy or not. In saying this I am not saying there aren’t external factors that can waiver your happiness nor am I denying the existence of medical conditions or depression – I am quite familiar with depression after all. I am saying you can choose to be happy, even when you have every reason not to be.
First step : Be open- minded. Specifically, be open to change and learning new things. We may be experts in our field but we can always stand to learn something -there is no end to education after all. We may need to be open to learning a technical skill but more commonly it applies to how we handle the day-to-day. Daily our habits are what shapes our life and all of us could put to use good habits. That could mean better planning , better approaches to problems and dealings with people etc. Yes these little things matter, after all the daily weather becomes the climate eventually. So be prepared to change and feed your mind constantly so you can grow.
Sometimes we get caught in the same routine that’s not producing the results we want but we stick with it because “It worked years ago” , or “That’s the way it’s supposed to be done” or worse “I know what I’m doing, I’ve been doing this for 15 years.” But, that’s the opposite of “open” , that neon light has been turned off. Don’t be like that. The change that leads to success often requires humility -so go eat that slice of humble pie.
On the other spectrum we may be open to trying new things – say an unconventional career but we aren’t willing to change our lifestyle, budget or work ethic. This will not benefit us. Change brings about more change, and if we’re unhappy ,we have to stop doing things the same way and expect a different outcome.
That brings us to step # 2 (this is turning into a step-by-step guide)
Sacrifice -a.k.a not what you want to hear
No one wants to hear that they will have to sacrifice something they love in order to get something else they want. But, I am telling you that because it’s true. ( Sorry)
Scenario 1 : Middle aged man, Craig O’Neill, is focused on building his career in sales, but is required to travel often and spend many nights away from his family. Sacrifices : personal time, sleep, family relationships.
OK, but what if you’re not focused on a “normal” career, instead you want to do something that lets you have more time to vacation, make art, visit friends, family etc. Read on.
Scenario 2 : Amanda Briggs started her own D.I.Y. blog and works hard to bring visitors to her site. She posts weekly and updates her social media regularly. Sacrifices : money, stability, social environment.
Many of you are no doubt seeking the unconventional jobs like blogging, photography, writing, art, handmade etc. You may think of all the benefits like: being your own boss, having more time, self-pride etc. But, I want to remind you there are sacrifices with everything.
So what can you do? You really need to prioritize. Make a list of things that you absolutely can’t sacrifice (musts) v.s. things you don’t want to sacrifice. A situation where you are both happy and doing what you love will involve give and take. So think long and hard about what you require out of life. If you can free yourself of conventional burdens (money expectations, having nice things, comfortable lifestyles) you may find it easier to be happy and reach that goal of doing what you love.
Some things to consider before choosing to work for yourself :
- You need to have money to back your new career- savings so you can survive in the beginning stages (or another job/source of income). You also need a reserve of cash to pay for things like : equipment, product, website, marketing, etc . You often times will be working for free (without direct compensation).
- Everything takes time. You can’t just start and expect to make ANYTHING, time and unforeseen circumstance comes to play here. You can play by all the rules and still not be successful. Be patient and adaptable.
- If you are self-employed and working by yourself you may find yourself lonely. This seems like a small silly drawback, but one thing I myself have taken for granted in the past is the social aspect of having a “normal” job. With most jobs you have co-workers and regular human interactions. When you work by yourself you may chat via social media, email or phone with others but the work you do is often 100% by yourself. It’s important to balance your work with social life so you don’t go insane.
- When you work for yourself there are more responsibilities . Taxes are one of those headaches, along with filing and paperwork. In addition you don’t have company benefits to rely on. You pay your own health insurance and there are no paid sick days or time off. This is why budgeting is key if you want to live off of your own earnings.
Disclaimer : This list is in no way trying to deter you from pursuing self-employment but seeks to keep you informed. If you’re a romantic like me, you may catch yourself dreaming of that Insta-influencer’s life – you know the pics where they’re flying out of the country or sun soaking on white sand beaches but reality has to come in to play. Working for yourself is well, work!
Getting your life in order so that you can do what you love may take time and sacrifice, but happiness can happen right now. Remember it’s all about that attitude. You can’t just say I’m happy, I’m going to have a good attitude and it stick. You have to constantly remind yourself of why you should be happy each and every day and maybe one day your brain will do it naturally. If you’re like me, an anxiety ridden pessimist, then this will be difficult- but you can do it!
Things to consider and be happy about :
- If you are reading this, then no doubt you are interested in bettering yourself and for that you should be proud. It takes a level of self awareness to want to change. You are in the minority.
- Don’t forget your self worth. You are an individual, not a robot. There is no one else like you (kinda lame, I know, but so true) . You have specific talents and characteristics that make you interesting and can benefit so many people. Make a mental list of your skills (not forgetting emotional skills ) and think about how you can add value to others. Because when you’re doing what you love and you are helping others it makes all the toil and sacrifice worth it. You will share your happiness and that community will motivate you to go on.
- Don’t have unrealistic expectations. This one’s tough for me. You should never compare yourself to even your past self. There are factors you can’t even imagine that effect the outcome of things. So maybe you think you should be able to complete this task because a year ago you could easily, but now you have double the work load, living in a new city etc. My advice : Be kind to yourself. You can have high standards just don’t tie your self worth to them. Be prepared to handle failure and get back up. If you need help,ask.
- Be grateful for the little things and don’t minimize your accomplishments. Realize someone out there is longing for your success, jealous of your lifestyle even if you think it’s a pile of crap. It’s OK to constantly be striving for more, just don’t belittle what you’ve got.
In A Nutshell
One of the important things I wanted to get across is this : happiness and success are things that you must be striving for DAILY . Maybe you are someone who is naturally chipper and you won’t have to constantly remind yourself of why you should be happy but all of us go through things that challenge that state of being. So it is important to be prepared to work on it DAILY. As far as success with a project or profession, that too will need to be chipped away at on a day to day basis or at the very least as part of a weekly routine. It is far easier to be doing something small DAILY that works towards your goal than it is to do chunks of work sporadically, trust me. You need a schedule and you will need to stick to it so you can continue to be productive. However, I am certain that if you are willing and able to keep on the right track you will find satisfaction in your life while doing what you love!
If you want to read more on the topic of success, I can wholly recommend reading Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days to Overnight Success as it has inspired this blog post. His entire blog is full of great articles, tips and personal experience on living an unconventional life.
Again, thank you for reading and I wanted to let you know that you can follow my stories, tips and more every THURSDAY as I will be posting weekly! See you then.