Understanding the difference between being successful and being happy is vital. Success is great, but not if it costs your happiness. If you are meeting the challenges of your life with a light, free heart, then you’re doing it right. Keep going! But if you find yourself dragging along with your heart behind you every step of the way, it is time to stop and rethink. Here are some vital differences that will change the way you see success and happiness.
1. Success is meeting deadlines. Happiness is working toward your goals.
Meeting deadlines is a good thing, but if you are regularly unhappy while you’re doing it, it’s time to figure out why and fix it. Could it be that you are meeting other people’s deadlines, i.e. taking on work that is not yours? Are you working in a field that is in line with your gifts and natural strengths? If not, you may feel like you are swimming upstream. Living from deadline to deadline can be a hamster wheel that will exhaust you.
Goals are stepping stones that take you to your dreams. They aim your life in the right direction–closer to what makes you come alive inside. When you live towards your purpose, you will find an energy bubbling through that will carry you. Goals will have also have deadlines, and meeting those deadlines will bring success–the happy kind.
“Happy people plan actions, they don’t plan results.” -Dennis Waitley
2. Success is working your way to the top of your field. Happiness is flowing in your purpose and gifts.
You may be climbing the corporate ladder, aiming to be top of your class, or be the fastest in your running club. If success for you is a single achievement, a destination you are aiming at, you may find yourself living in transit; stuck on a gray train between “here” and “there.” You could feel as if life is passing you by, a messy blur past your window. The aim of getting to the top is not just reaching it, but rather the growth you experience as you go.
When you figure out what you’ve been created for, and start doing it, you will find a satisfaction and contentment that you never imagined possible. Opportunities that you’d dreamed of will find you, instead of you sweating to make them happen. Start doing what you were created for and watch the doors fly open.
“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.” -Andy Rooney
3. Success is focusing on accumulating wealth. Happiness is focusing on improving your life.
Money is useful, and having enough of it sure makes life a bit easier, but it never brings a guarantee of happiness. Some of the most miserable people on our planet are those who have the most money.
There is wealth that far outweighs a fat bank balance. Investing in relationships brings a return of love and shared experiences that money can never buy. In the same way, spending time perfecting your abilities will bring an increase in your natural talent. Ask any pianist what an hour a day at the piano can bring. Invest your time into more than just making money.
“Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt
4. Success is promotion above your peers. Happiness is being respected by your peers.
Being promoted is a good thing to work towards. But clawing your way ahead, no matter who you have to step on to get there, will not bring you lasting satisfaction or peace.
Being kind and valuing the people in your circles costs you nothing and will earn their respect. It doesn’t matter if they are above or below you in rank; treating everyone as unique individuals worth your time and love will carve you into their hearts.
“Since you get more joy out of giving joy to others, you should put a good deal of thought into the happiness that you are able to give.” -Eleanor Roosevelt
5. Success is lying awake at night, worrying. Happiness is sleeping at peace.
If you climb a ladder built only by your own hands, you’ll spend a lot of time hoping it is strong enough to hold you up. But when you build with others, and start to climb higher, they will gather around ready to catch you should you fall. This will bring a security that means you can sleep easy at night.
There is a deep peace that comes with being where you’re meant to be, doing what you’re meant to be doing. Happy people are able to put their heads on the pillow at night and don’t carry the weight of tomorrow by themselves.
“When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.” -Winston Churchill
6. Success is staying ahead of the pack at any cost. Happiness is thriving in everything you do.
Successful people tend to work themselves beyond what their bodies can cope with. The put their health on the line, feeling they can’t spare time towards eating right, getting enough exercise, drinking water and getting sufficient sleep. The only thing that matters to them is staying ahead.
Happy people thrive. They enjoy their lives and will grab opportunities with both hands. They understand the value of looking after themselves and, because of this balance, are able to achieve more.
“If you are too busy to laugh, you are too busy.” -Proverb
7. Success is finding a life partner. Happiness is keeping your partner for life.
It is a remarkable thing to find the one who gets you. That soul who shares your hopes and dreams, can make you feel better when you are sad or disappointed; the one who loves you just as you are. With so much in common, it is easy to think that a long term relationship should be effortless, yet the truth is, in fact, the opposite.
The first step is deciding that your partner is a keeper, and then spend the rest of your days building on that foundation. Be generous and hold nothing back of your love, patience, generosity and kindness. Remember everything that you pour into your significant other, will come back at you through them.
“Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” -Robert A. Heinlein
8. Success is keeping the knowledge you glean to yourself. Happiness is sharing your expertise freely.
You’ve worked hard to get where you are. You’ve put in the time, paid money to do the courses and it shows in your achievements. Many people at this stage will hang onto their know-how out of fear that others will surpass their accomplishments. Insecurity will hold you back from the joy of seeing your abilities multiplied in those who learn from you.
There is something beautiful in having your student outdo you. Being brilliant at what you do is one thing, but to be willing to pass everything you know on and to see your students soar higher than you? That is when you know you have mastered your craft. It takes confidence not to be intimidated by the success of others. Their success does not take away from your talent; in fact it amplifies it.
“Happiness always looks small while you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and you learn at once how big and precious it is.” -Maxim Gorky
9. Success is striving for more. Happiness is contentment with what you have.
Are you living in a rut of “not enough”? A life spent chasing bigger, better and more will leave you empty and tired. Shift the focus and, instead of being an accumulator, start living as a distributor and watch your happiness sky rocket.
Open your eyes to the blessings surrounding you. Live aware of how much you have. If you can’t see it, take a day off and hang out with someone who has less than you. Choose to be grateful and appreciate every tiny detail of what you have.
“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” -Frederick Keonig
10. Success is to live driven. Happiness is to live fueled by passion.
For each mountain you climb, there is another waiting for your feet. There will always be another deadline, another urgent matter that can’t wait. If you live in waiting for the sound of a whip crack from behind you, it is time to re-evaluate. If fear is your greatest motivator, take it as a warning light on your dashboard. You can’t keep running at that pace; something has to change or your health and relationships will suffer.
From the outside, a driven person and a passionate person might look equally busy, but they are running on different fuel. When you work with what you feel most passionate about, you will have energy, a love for life that is infectious and a productivity level that gets stuff done. Your instincts will be sharp and there will be fresh initiative for everything you tackle. It’s worth taking the time to get to know yourself and figure out what you are passionate about. Then do that thing!
“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” -Albert Schweitzer
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