When people talk about success, they often think about having lots of money, 3 houses, a boat…and an island! These are certainly nice things to have, but having these alone does not guarantee you personal happiness. Some of the richest people are the loneliest and saddest. Money doesn’t buy everything and certainly cannot entitle you to to true, personal success.
“Over the past few years, new research has given us a much deeper understanding of the relationship between what we earn and how we feel. Economists have been scrutinizing the links between income and happiness across nations, and psychologist have probed individuals to find out what really makes us tick when it comes to cash” (Blackman 2014)
The problem is, it is easy to equate money with security and freedom. People commonly make the mistake of putting all their time and energy into achieving a higher income, leaving little time for anything else. They exhaust their ability to develop deep connections with others, build a family, focus on love and health. They usually end up feeling empty, lonely and like something is missing. Having a high income and lavish life style sound appealing, yet are external factors and unless you devote them towards self fulfilling experiences, they will not contribute to personal success alone.
“Experiences are worth more than you think” (Blackman 2014)
Ultimately it is what we feel that lays the foundation for personal happiness and success. When we work on our inner experiences, we are more likely to feel positive emotions such as joy, affection, tranquillity, and gratitude. Regardless of whether we have money or not, we we are still able to feel a level of personal satisfaction and contentment by focusing on these things. These inner experiences are unique to each individual and depend on what you value as important.
Having money of course is ‘ok’ however should be devoted towards building a life of personal wealth and value. You may choose to spend money on your health or creating stronger relationships with those around you. The essential factor is creating circumstances in your life that lead to purpose and fulfilment rather than trying to focus on accumulating material possessions.
Factors that contribute to success can also be referred to as ‘objective’ (externally measurable factors) and ‘subjective’ (internally psychological factors). To help identify what success means to you (and whether infact you would rather have lots of money), take a look at the grid below.
(Groysberg & Abrahams 2014)
What factors did you think were most important to achieve true success? While you might find many of the objective factors appealing, it is the subjective factors that are the most powerful and lead to long term personal satisfaction. Without the subjective factors, you are unlikely to reach a level of genuine contentment. You can enjoy both together, however the focus should always be towards creating inner experiences that bring you value, meaning and fulfilment.
People often forget that achieving overall personal success is a combination of life style factors, not just one. Sometimes it can be difficult identifying which areas of your life you need to focus, and requires a deeper look into your own personal values. The important point to remember is that you need to ‘feel’ happy, not ‘look’ happy. Don’t let money be the main focus in your life. Find out what success means to you…
Groysberg & Abrahams (2014), What Does Success Mean to You?, viewed Wednesday 22nd July 2015, https://hbr.org/2014/02/what-does-success-mean-to-you
Blackman (2014), Money Can’t Buy Happiness, viewed Wednesday 22nd July 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/can-money-buy-happiness-heres-what-science-has-to-say-1415569538