Most people will search their whole lives to achieve happiness and success. In fact, most think that achieving one will often lead to the other, but this is not always the case. Many successful people can rattle off a long list of accomplishments, yet they still find there is something missing throughout their journey to the top—perhaps a feeling of happiness. Similarly, happy people may feel content with many aspects of their lives, yet they may wonder what else they could achieve to push their success to the next level.
The problem in all of this is that many times, we seek out the short-term accomplishments—the small wins that will make us feel good right away. The trouble with this is that we are too quick to jump to the next short-term challenge. You reach a goal. You feel fulfilled for a time, but soon you find yourself unsatisfied yet again. A new goal enters your mind and you charge forward. You achieve that goal, and then onto the next. Soon, you’ll find yourself in a never-ending cycle.
As it turns out, there is research to support these ideas. A Harvard Business School study examined a group of professionals to determine how they were able to manifest both success and happiness in the long-term. The results showed that these individuals shifted their focus toward several key areas of emphasis, including happiness, achievement, significance, and legacy.
In achieving long-term happiness, you should ideally seek out activities that make you happy. What are you passionate about? It could be your career or profession, but that may not necessarily be the case. It could simply be a hobby. It could be spending time with friends and family. If so, make this a priority in your life. If you love to dance, enroll in a dance class or spend your free time feeding this passion. When life gets crazy, it is easy to push our passions aside to focus on the bare essentials. Avoid doing so, for you are neglecting your happiness in the process.
In order to gauge your level of success, you will naturally turn to evaluating the results of your endeavors. When you are consistently engaging in tasks that produce results, you will feel happiness and success in the long-term. Remember that the notion of “results” is subjective. What you view as successful results may be different than that of your colleague or friend. In this sense, it is important to stay focused on your own efforts and avoid comparing yourself to others. Celebrate the successes of others as well as your own. If you find that you are struggling with achieving the results you desire, keep trying and don’t give up easily.
Many people want to leave a lasting impact. This is another critical component of long-lasting success and happiness. Getting involved in activities that have a positive impact on the community or loved ones in your life provide a strong sense of significance. In doing so, it becomes easier to focus on the bigger picture and what is truly important in our lives. You will find that the small, day to day problems are not so important after all. When you encounter problems, you will then focus on solutions rather than dwelling on the problem itself.
Leaving behind a lasting legacy is another key component of achieving long-term success and happiness. After all, if we cannot pass onto others all that we have learned, then truly what good is it? This can be achieved in a variety of ways: writing a book or a memoir, working with a mentee, or establishing an organization or foundation, just to name a few. Doing so not only provides a great sense of personal accomplishment and fulfillment, but it also provides great educational value to those who will be informed and inspired by your wisdom.
By focusing on these four areas, you can increase your potential to achieve long-lasting happiness and success. Instead of seeking immediate gratification, you are instead choosing to pursue an enduring sense of fulfillment, both personally and professionally.
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