For many of us in the United States, we have been sold a false narrative of what it means to be happy and successful. We have become to equate them as one and the same. Our lives are filled with “if only” and “but when” as we chase happiness and fulfillment with our accomplishments and acquisitions.
This might sound counterintuitive coming from someone in the business of real estate investing and helping people cultivate long-term wealth, but something that we are very passionate about at Memphis Invest is that people are choosing a path that is right for them—not merely what they feel they are expected to do. We believe in having a plan and a purpose.
With that in mind, so many of us chase arbitrary markers of success believing that they will bring us a sense of happiness and fulfillment in life...without knowing what will actually make us feel fulfilled.
So how do you ensure those two things match us? Here’s my hot take.
3 Ways to Sync Your Search for Success and Happiness
1) Recognize that success and happiness are different.
One of the key misconceptions that we can make as professions is equating success with happiness. When we do this, we mistakenly believe that if we reach the heights of wealth, accomplishment, or career, we will automatically be happy. If you speak to anyone who is or has been at the top, you will find that their successes did not make them happy.
At the heart of it all, happiness and success do not share the relationship that we think they do. In our results and work-driven society, we believe that we must work, strive, and achieve in order to be successful...and then, happiness will follow. Happiness must be a byproduct of success.
However, happiness comes first in the equation. It must be left standing when the successes are gone and the goals are met.
But what is the difference really? We know that success and happiness are different things, and, more importantly, they are not tied together in the way we think they are. Think about it this way:
Success is the achievement. It is the doing. Happiness is the immovable root that remains even when you don't have the answers. It is there because you are pursuing things you love, surrounded by people you love. Happiness accounts for your whole life, not just the highs.
2) Learn to be content in present circumstances.
John Lennon once said, "Life is what happens while we're making other plans."
I think for many of us, this could be a cautionary reminder for own behaviors. While being future-minded can be so full of wisdom, being too fixated on what is to come, especially when there is nothing you can do about it, leads only to anxiety. Part of meshing your ambitions and happiness is to learn how to be content with where you are and what you have right now. That doesn't mean we don't have a game plan to grow our wealth and better ourselves.
What it does mean is that we're not living in a constant mental state of wanting and wishing for more. This only leads to that mentality of living in the future and in an unrealistic mindset wherein one more "if only" will lead to your fulfillment.
3) Define success for yourself.
Success is like defining art. No one really knows what it means. Success is very personal for us, and if you want to have success that is fulfilling, you have the embrace the personal nature of success. Don't look to succeed by standards that are not for you. Instead, let your passions shape your idea of success. What truly matters to you? What do you really want for yourself and your family?
Remember, we often confuse success and happiness or believe that the former leads to the latter. Success makes us believe that we're going to get the stuff that will make us happy. This is a false narrative. Your definition of success might be a career achievement, a degree under your built, getting all of the kids through college without debt, or something else. Just don't hinge your happiness on it.
For you, where do success and happiness meet? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.