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  • Proactive Happiness

Who Are You Living For?

For anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis, you have probably figured out by now that I like to take inspiration for my articles from conversations I have with my clients. When I hear recurring themes, it starts my brain working.

I work with a lot of people who have completed their education and started into careers that they now find unfulfilling and downright painful, in some cases. When I start the discussion about how they arrived at their present position in life, inevitably it goes back to how they originally chose their major/career. Time and time again, I hear people say that they chose the field their parents were in, or they chose a field they thought would provide a good, stable job with a certain amount of “success” associated with it, at the gentle (or not so gentle) encouragement of their parents.

So, fast forward five, ten, maybe 20 years, and here you are. Doing that job that makes your parents proud. And makes you miserable.

I find this topic fascinating, because typically when we start to dig into things a little deeper, the cause for this misery you’re now feeling can be reduced to a not-so-simple misunderstanding. Your parents, like most parents out there, most likely wanted for you what every parent wants – they want you to be “successful”. Here is where this misunderstanding starts to take shape. In your mind, “successful” probably meant making lots of money, driving a nice car and feeling fulfilled at work (which would just happen, of course). Cue the stereotypical career options to satisfy this definition of “success”: doctor, lawyer, accountant, executive, stockbroker, investment banker, blah blah blah.

I bet if you had gone to your parents at the time and asked them their definition of your success, it would have been a bit more along these lines “doesn’t live in my basement, can pay their own bills, drives a car that doesn’t break down if driven over 45 mph, enough money in savings account so that I don’t get a phone call if they get a speeding ticket, and happy”. I have yet to meet a parent that has set an income threshold for their child, and I certainly haven’t met one who values that paycheck over their child’s happiness (although I am sure there are some out there).

So now that I have cleared away some of the cobwebs around this ancient secret, I ask you – who are you living for now? You got into your career (that makes you miserable) thinking it was what your parents wanted of you… now what? When you take a step back and think about what success looks like (REALLY looks like) to you, does it require the misery you’re working in, or are there ways to get your success and actually be happy at the same time? Maybe it is time to have a frank conversation with yourself to figure out what your success really looks like and start defining a path to get to that success. Life is too short to be unhappy, and your parents certainly wouldn’t want that for you, so get out there and make yourself proud!

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