Happiness. That sometimes elusive feeling we all strive for. For some, it turns into a lifelong mission while for others it is a passive search that sometimes is filled with material objects or short-term gratification that is misconstrued as happiness. If you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you that almost everything you do is because you want to feel a certain way. You don’t get a fancy car because you enjoy seeing a massive depreciating asset in your portfolio that either depletes or slows the growth of your savings. You get that fancy car because it makes you feel accomplished. You get that fancy car because the attention you get makes you feel good. You get the fancy car because the status symbol that might come with it makes you feel special. It is always a feeling and if you can’t pinpoint it right away, ask yourself the “why?” questions a few times and you will eventually get to the emotion you are after for what you are trying to do or acquire.
You can probably do a Google search for “how to be happy” and you’ll get many results that are mostly a list of things you should do. For example, the list of items might include practicing gratitude, smiling more, spending money on experiences instead of material objects, and getting enough sleep. While this might work for a short period I want to let you know that it is actually much more simple than that.
If you want to feel happiness you need to be pursuing something of your own. An idea that you give birth to that you will spend some time on almost every day. This can be a business idea, a creative project, or a personal project. A new hobby or an idea you bring to the table at the place of your work. Whether they know it or not when people pursuit entrepreneurship, the concept of pursuing something that there is no doubt they are giving birth to is part of the attractiveness as that pursuit brings them happiness no matter how challenging the actual business might be.
For most of the population that works for a company, you might be working on very interesting projects that you are proud of but you lack a sense of ownership because you did not give birth to it. The only way that this can lead to happiness is if the project you are working on has a clear purpose that is much bigger than you and aligned with your values. As an example, Elon Musk and Tesla’s purpose is so clear that most tesla employees are not just building cars. They are on a mission to transition the world into sustainable energy. As you can imagine, most companies are either not involved in this type of work or they do a very poor job conveying to employees what the purpose and mission of the company are.
The underlying reason why pursuing an idea you give birth to leads to happiness is that human beings are hard-wired for growth. From the days of Neanderthal to Homo Sapiens to modern human civilization, our species has been on a constant quest to evolve and grow and this will continue for as long as the human species is around. At a personal level, if you don’t feel like you are growing and evolving you will feel like your life has stalled and you will not be happy. The opposite of this is feeling like you are growing in some aspect of your life and this leads to happiness.
For the lucky minority that is already pursuing their own business venture or has the opportunity to pursue an idea or project they gave birth to within their organization, they are already on the right track. For the majority, there is most likely frustration that you do not feel like you are growing and learning in your current role or life. I don’t believe there is a personal agenda against you. Business is complex, especially when trying to navigate a pandemic so leaders and managers are focused on the task at hand and trying to hit business goals and objectives. Most leaders are actually really good managers of processes and projects and not of people. Then you have leaders that are good at leading people but not always a priority but then there is a small group of special leaders in every company or organization that despite all the business pressure they somehow still make it a priority to focus on individual growth. If you are not being led by one of these special leaders you need to take control of your own growth.
For the last three and a half years I have been working on writing and publishing a book. I’m happy to say that my first book will be published in the Spring of 2021. The actual publish date will be announced soon. I gave birth to the idea of this book and over the last three and a half years I had to learn how to write a book, learn about the various publishing options from traditional to hybrid to self-publishing, and how to market and sell a book. Despite the ups and downs of my job over this period and being part of some major projects, there was nothing that I can truly call my own but the book is mine and no one can take that away from me. The growth and learning that has come as a result of pursuing the publishing of a book have kept me happy and excited despite the frustrations I might have felt at my job.
We all know of people that had everything but still unhappy while people that had very little but happy. The difference is that one stopped growing while the other continued to grow in however they defined growth for themselves.
To be happy in 2021 and beyond you must take control of your own growth and happiness. Others can be happy for you but no one will make your happiness their top priority. If you are like me and have always wanted to write a book, figure out how and start taking small steps each day. Did you want to set up an e-commerce store on Etsy or Shopify? There are endless resources online on how to get started. Begin learning how to set up the store, take action, and growth and happiness will come. Do you have ideas that can help save your organization money or increase sales? Learn how to best pitch the idea to the right person so you get approval to lead the project. You have always wanted to paint? Buy some canvas, paint, and brush and start. It’s that simple as long as you take action.
If this is too much to still unpack for you let me leave you with this simple phrase. You are one idea away from happiness. Now go get it in 2021 and beyond.
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