Modern society would have us believe that success is inherently desirable. However, the word “success” means different things to different people. Some claim that success is measured by your ability to acquire wealth. Others say that success is all about having the power to act in the ways we want. Others yet equate success with fame, and the ability to influence other people.
In any case, whatever we take success to be, we assume that it is something inherently desirable. Not only that, but there is a commonly held belief that exchanging happiness for success is a worthwhile trade. Here we have to raise an objection. Sacrificing our own happiness to accomplish a goal is sometimes necessary, but it is hardly a recipe for leading an enjoyable life. We believe that it is possible to strike a balance between chasing achievement and maintaining our personal well-being. And in order to support our claim, we have four pieces of advice to offer, which you can find in the rest of this article.
Make Work Intrinsically Rewarding
Success is not something that can be just be handed down to you. In order to succeed, you have to work really hard at it. However, if you treat work solely as a means for reaching success, you will quickly grow to resent it. Fortunately, with a right shift in attitude, you can turn work into something that’s enjoyable to do in its own right. By doing this, you can work towards accomplishing your goals, while still enjoying yourself in the process. But work seems to be something inherently at odds with pleasure, so how does one go about making it enjoyable? One approach is to approach work as collection of discrete activities. Each of these activities can then be treated as simple challenges in their own right. So instead of thinking of work as a slog without beginning or end, you can regard it as a series of interesting problems, which you are constantly getting better at solving.
Protect the Environment
Success is never created out of nothing. You always have to utilize a certain amount of resources to produce something of value, and all resources ultimately come from the same source, nature. In other words, all our success can ultimately be traced back to nature. And what has nature received in return for enabling the success of us as a species? As we are increasingly becoming aware, the price of our success has been the veritable devastation of the environment. The more we succeed, the more harm we seem to be doing, and at a certain point this outward impoverishment of the world starts to take its toll on our personal happiness as well. Do your best to reduce your environmental impact and embrace the healthy benefits of being in nature.
Nurture Your Body
If we accept that happiness and success are often at odds, this is often taken to imply that if something is beneficial for the achievement of one of these goals, it is at best neutral, and at worst detrimental to the accomplishment of the other. If you spend a lot of time going partying with friends, this will undoubtedly make you feel happy, but you are probably going to be doing less work as a result, and hence reducing the odds of making it big. But not all things have this sort of either/or relation with success and happiness. Specifically, taking care of your body is a practice that is beneficial both for the accomplishment of goals, as well as for increasing your sense of well-being. Maintain your physical health through a combination of proper dieting, regular exercise, and ample sleep is a more sustainable approach to achieving happiness and success than sacrificing one for the other.
Change Your Perspective
Throughout this article, we assumed that happiness and success are meaningful categories for thinking about our lives. And now we want to take a cue from the philosophers of old, and call that assumption into question. Much has been written and said on the topic of living a good life from the times of Aristotle, but we are hardly closer to finding an answer than he was. Thinking about life in terms of happiness and success is just one way of approaching this perennial issue, and it is by no means a definitive one. And how can this theoretical insight help us lead a more meaningful life? Simply put, it allows us to step outside this debate as a whole, and simply do things that we find meaningful. Without the constant need to measure how happy or successful we are, we actually stand a much better chance at achieving both of these goals.
It is difficult to pin down a topic like this into just a few paragraphs, but we hope that our guide can help you find a work-life balance that is conducive both for your personal happiness, as well as your attempts at achieving success.