This might sound like a ridiculous proposition, because many would assume that when you achieve success, you’re probably pretty happy. Take Alexander Ovechkin, for example. Having signed the first $100 million contract in NHL history and achieving all sorts of success as a professional hockey player, you would think that Alex is pretty happy right now. He probably is. Speaking for the rest of us, however, you can start to see that there are definite trade-offs in the decisions that you make and you may ultimately have to choose between success or happiness.
Consider this. By and large, I enjoy my career as a freelance writer. It’s great having the relative freedom to set my own working schedule and, to a certain extent, earn as much money as I want. That said, if I didn’t have to worry about money, I probably wouldn’t be writing nearly as much as I do and I wouldn’t be taking on quite so many clients. Given the choice, I would probably be happier playing Guitar Hero III right now, instead of writing articles on CES 2008.
To be successful as a freelance writer, I need to produce quality content in a timely fashion. I need to spend a significant amount of time in front of keyboard, soliciting new clients and delivering top-notch writing. It is because of this dedication and work ethic that I have come to be known as some sort of expert reviewer. I wouldn’t say that I am totally successful as a freelance writer just yet, but I do feel that I am heading down the right path. Does this mean that I am happy? Not necessarily. No one likes long hours.
Even when you consider some of the highest ranking executives in multi-national companies, they are oftentimes sacrificing some of their happiness in order to achieve their success. They’re chasing money, because they feel that having a significant amount of wealth is a critical aspect to success. For this reason, they put in long hours at the office, participate in less than pleasurable tasks (who likes meetings anyways?), and take on projects that they would rather leave for someone else. All the while, their family life may suffer and they’re left with less time to spend on their hobbies. Instead of a fishing trip, John Doe is stuck dealing with TPS reports.
Unless you have mounds of wealth and you don’t need to worry about any sort of monetary gain, you absolutely have to choose between success and happiness. I’m most happy when I’m spending time with my family and friends, perhaps watching a movie or playing some video games, but during that time, I’m not making any money and I’m not furthering my career as a freelance writer. On the flip side, when I’m bashing away at a computer keyboard, staring at the LCD monitor, I’m not playing video games and I’m not enjoying quality time with my family.
As with all things, I think the best strategy to take is to find a healthy balance between the two. No matter how much you love your job, there will inevitably be times when you wish you could be doing something else. Go ahead, take a break, because being successful without being happy just isn’t worth it.