Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happiness = Success

I had a revelation recently. If you're happy and fulfilled, regardless of what you are doing in life, then you're successful. I am at the very least trying to convince myself of this. I have never felt successful on the professional front. Why? Well because while most of my friends have been building work experience, I've been racking up basically useless graduate degrees because I wasn't clear on what I wanted to do for a career. During the periods of my life where I have been working, and even, in some cases, hobnobbing with important people and making good money, I've been miserable and unfulfilled. Now, I am almost completely unemployed (except for my weekly spinning class and occasional seminar I present for the corporate fitness company), for the first time since my undergraduate degree, which I completed 14 years ago. So no income to speak of and back in school for my 4th university degree after which I will be starting a new career, right from the beginning, which will probably take a while to launch.

My default is to consider myself a failure because at 36, I am just beginning my career path and making bupkis. Most of my friends at this stage are firmly established in their law/academic/teaching/publishing/journalism/consulting careers and have 2 income households allowing them to live in fancier neighbourhoods, spend more on clothes/food/interior decorating, etc. and take many more family vacations.

But I am enjoying school. Although they drive me nuts sometimes, I feel blessed to have a loving husband and two beautiful, healthy, fiesty daughters. I have a large network of supportive friends and family. We are not rich but we are certainly much more fortunate than most and financially comfortable enough that I was able to quit the high paying job that I hated to start this journey. Day to day life is enjoyable and I'm happy and based on the options available to me, I am doing what I want with my professional life and hopefully moving it in the right direction so that one day I will be able to say I love my work. In the present, I love my life and I'm, you know what? I'm a success! In cognitive-behavioural therapy terminology, this would be referred to as replacing a negative core belief (I am a failure) with an alternative (I am a success). It may sound hoakey, but you know what? It does make me feel better. It is certainly a more positive way of thinking than focusing on all the decisions I have made in the past that I regret (why didn't I just do a psych degree and then go on to get a clinical psych PhD so that by now I'd have my own counselling practice and would be making big bucks?). Let's face it, having regrets is really a total waste of time.

The past is history, the future is unknown but the present is reality.


  1. I happened to come across your lovely blog and I very much enjoyed reading it :) Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I totally agree! I find myself on that same hamster wheel sometimes, I have friends from grad school who are now professors, or senior scientists at various companies... but I'm *happy*. After all, who cares if you're in the history books after you're gone? If your life was miserable, which it seems like a lot of those people's are - what's the point? what's the point in working at a job you hate, I think it sucks the joy out of the rest of your life. Even a job you love, if you're doing that all the time to the exclusion of your family... in the end, you may have more money or more prestige - but again, what does that get you? (you can tell that this is something I've spent a lot of time thinking about too!)

  3. Joanne - Welcome! Thanks for reading along, I'm so glad you are enjoying it.

    Nico - Yes, you are so right. What is the saying, "At the end of their life, nobody regrets that they didn't work MORE but they always regret not spending more time with loved ones." Something like that...