Success is something the vast majority of people strive for in their lives. And while most people think we all have different ideas about what success is, in reality we all share the same goal. To be happy. Of course the difference lays in how we define what makes us happy, but ultimately our life’s goal is to be happy.
While that may sound simple, and as with most things in life it is, this is also the source of why so many people never achieve success. That is because people spend all their time looking for the wrong thing. They look for things they are passionate about, they look for a career in a large, global company or they seek success in other pursuits and activities, believing this is what will lead to success. For the vast majority of people, those pursuits, may indeed lead to success, but not necessarily lead to happiness and because of that they find they feel unfulfilled and unhappy.
Yet, seeking happiness is easy, all it takes is for you to look for the things that make you feel happy. What do you enjoy doing that makes you feel happy. For me that is, among other things, driving in the car with my wife and dog going on a journey into the countryside. I love that time we have together in our otherwise busy lives. So, once I identified what makes me feel happy, all I had to do was find ways that I could maximise the times we spend doing that. One of those is to develop our business so it is less dependent on work in our home city and gives us opportunities to do work in other cities in other areas of the country. This way we will get to travel regularly around the country together and I can do lectures and workshops while we travel.
In order for me to gain greater happiness all I needed to do was change the way I work. And this where most people struggle. While it is relatively easy to identify what it is that makes us feel happy, it is often difficult to identify what we need to do to enjoy those happy moments more often, and once identified, we then struggle to find ways of achieving it. Or, even worse, we find excuses not to change them.
If you truly want to achieve a successful life, one that is defined as having a happy and contented life, then you have to change. You have to find ways that will increase those moments you feel happiest and remove those moments when you don’t feel happy. It all sounds easy I know. The truth is if it was easy, then everyone would do it. But, sadly the human condition likes regularity and hates change. We often unconsciously harm our long-term happiness for the short term comfort of something we are familiar with. This is the situation smokers have when they try to give up. The immediate comfort a cigarette gives them is so much more powerful than the long-term health benefits they would have by not smoking. The job we hate going to everyday is far more comfortable than having to take the uncomfortable steps of finding another job. And those that do get to a point where they can no longer bare the job they do and apply for another job, often look for jobs in the same area they were doing before because, again, doing the same thing is far more comfortable than trying something new and much more fulfilling.
If you really do want to achieve happiness, fulfilment and ultimately success you are going to have to change and there is no way around that. You have to change the things that do not contribute either in the short term or long term to your overall happiness. Smoking, over eating and work you hate doing are some of the first things you can change. You can also change the people you hang out with if they too are not contributing to your overall happiness.
Happiness does not come by arriving at a destination, happiness comes from the journey to that destination. As humans we need to grow and we need continuous growth. Great, overwhelming happiness comes from the feeling you have when you are moving towards your goals. The euphoria of achieving a goal is very quickly replaced by the feeling of what next? This why the people who are the happiest are the people who are moving towards a goal that at first seems impossible, yet as time goes by, they move closer and closer towards that goal. I know so many happy people, people who’s dream is to have a small farm in the countryside by the time they retire, and they are putting away a small amount of money each month to achieve that goal. At first the dream seems far off, but after ten or twenty years they can see light at the end of the tunnel. I see other people who want to start their own business, and are going to night school twice a week to learn the new skills they will require to make that business become reality.
“Most people overestimate what they can achieve in a year, and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” — Tony Robbins
There is so much you can do to improve your happiness. But before you can do that you need to know what it is that will make you happy, and then discover what you have to do to achieve it. Once you have those steps completed, the next step is to take action. To do something every day that will take you towards that dream. It may take many years before you get there, it may never even happen, but the action you take that brings you closer towards it is what will make you feel happy, worthwhile and accomplished. And that, dear reader is all it takes for you to be successful.
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Carl Pullein is a personal productivity specialist, presenter and author of Working With Todoist: The Book as well as Your Digital Life, a book about using your technology to achieve greater productivity. Carl works with clients all over the world to help them focus on the things that are important to them and to become more productive and creative.