I am often asked the question, “can you be successful and happy?” and I can appreciate why this is such a difficult concept for individuals to grasp. Society has conditioned us to believe that happiness is the price we have to pay if we are to be successful.
In fact, society has done a pretty good job of creating the illusion that there is little autonomy in your career progression. The story goes something like this…In high school, you are expected to select your major in college. This then sets you on a path toward the discipline that will be the focus of your career. As you near college graduation, the expectation is that you pursue a position in this discipline. And with that first job, you find yourself on the first rung of the corporate career ladder.
The corporate career ladder is an invention that suggests that your career — your success — is this linear, upward, trajectory and your objective is to climb that ladder as quickly as possible. The problem with this construct is that — at some point on that journey — many individuals find that the ladder they are climbing seems to be leading them further and further from themselves.
What does this look like? This could be finding less joy than you used to in your work. This could be the anxiety on Sunday evening as you think about the week ahead. This could be the multiple taps of the snooze button as you struggle to get out of bed to face the day. This could be not taking care of yourself.
So, what’s the antidote? Take the time to reconnect with what’s important to you. What are your priorities? What do you value? In other words, how do you define success? And then having the courage to begin aligning your life with this vision.
Notice that I said, “begin aligning your life.” This does not have to be some radical upheaval where you quit your job and start afresh. Rather, what I suggest are micro experiments. What is the smallest, lowest-risk step you can take in this new direction? With each small step, you will learn something about yourself, and about the reality of your vision. This allows you to adjust as you proceed.
Can you be happy and successful? Absolutely! The process I’ve summarized above is one that I’ve researched, used myself, and implemented in helping my clients achieve greater success. Reconnect with what is important to you. Redefine success on your terms. And, realize the path to achieve it.