We are hardwired; from the moment we take our first breath, to start competing for a spot of our own in life. Everyone starts telling us what we should do and what we should aspire to in order to become successful, and by “successful,” they of course mean financial success. I have yet to hear a parent tell their son to, “be whatever you want to be” or “follow your passion” or even, “be an artist if you’d like!” Nope, few encourage their children to do what they love if, in fact, what they love may not bring financial stability. It is understandable for parents who might have struggled to make ends meet, to hope their kids won’t go through the same adversities. Yet, are we preparing them for disillusionment? Is money all that matters when we choose our paths in life?
A friend of mine, at the age of 38, decided to quit his job as a pilot. He told me he quit when his mom died because he felt he had only become a pilot for her so that she would be proud and happy. She loved to see him in that uniform, looking successful! But he wasn’t happy. He didn’t have a place to call home, and I suspect he still doesn’t. After his mother’s death, he chose to become a teacher, and still, he is not happy. Perhaps this is in part because he keeps hoping to find that elusive happiness he wasn’t able to identify at an earlier age as he felt forced into a chosen career.
Choose a career that is aligned with your passions
Before it’s too late, you might want to follow your dreams because, once you do, you will be so passionate that you will find the means and the way to get where you want to be. You may not become rich, but every day of your life will be meaningful. Spoiler alert! We are all going to die, and you can take nothing with you, in case you hadn’t heard, so why not choose a path you will enjoy versus the one that brings lots of money? Start paving the way to happiness as early as possible and if you have children, encourage be happy too. Help them to think about what they’d like to do with themselves without concerning themselves too much about money.
Children are quick to pick up on what is expected of them and if they are told early on that the measure of their success is the amount of money they make, they will inevitably lose focus of what is really important, which is enjoyment of your passions and your work, as well. Whatever it is that makes your heart beat in anticipation is what you should be doing every day.
A different perspective on the measure of success
They call the dreamers crazy, but isn’t that what Steve Jobs did? Yes, he became rich but he followed his passion, just as so many others have, taking a risk and doing what they absolutely love to do. Richard Branson and so many others are at play all day and they managed to make it rich too. They strived for excellence in their daily lives, doing what they loved. They were strong-willed and determined. That is what we should instill in our kids and our youth: Passion, focus, and determination.
I have been blessed because I was never told what to do. I just happened to fall into teaching since I belong to a family of teachers. I truly enjoy it every single day. I am not rich, but as long as I can indulge in my little pleasures: Going to visit my family, running, exercising, writing, drawing… I am happy.
My measure of success? Going to work every day and doing what I love to do. Making people happy and seeing others smile. Enjoying those moments with friends which I am honored to have. This is my measure of success. I don’t want to have to look back and regret a wasted a life, being miserable for the sake of a bigger paycheck.
What about you? What is your measure of success? What would you do if money was no object, would you choose to be happy?