It's easy to assume that the only thing standing between you and career bliss is achieving a couple of milestones -- building a successful business, reaching a certain earning potential, or getting promoted. These people seem happy, right?
Often, this idea that happiness at work is only a few "accomplishments" away drives us into an obsession with personal achievement. We become so fixated on attaining the next goal, that it becomes our life's focus.
According to Wharton professor Richard Shell, author of Springboard: Launching Your Personal Search for Success, that's an "outer definition of success" -- aspects that focus on building a long career, receiving recognition, and achievement.
Those are all great, but the issue with the "outer" is that they're not universal nor a sustainable source of true happiness. If you base your definition of success on external factors like money and influence, for example, then you'll never have enough.
Instead, in the words of Dr. Travis Bradberry (author and president at TalentSmart), "When it comes to making yourself happy, you need to learn what works for you."
The practice of knowing and understanding what makes you tick is called emotional intelligence (EQ) -- and, according to Bradberry, it's a critical skill that happy people tend to have in common.
In a recent LinkedIn article, Bradberry shared a few ways emotionally intelligent people create their own happiness. I've highlighted my top three, and put my personal twist on them.
1. They don't let what they cannot control affect what they can.
Whether it's other peoples' feelings, old mistakes, or future events to come, emotionally intelligent people don't let things outside of their control hijack their happiness. Instead, they choose to focus on the positive impact they can make now.
Early on in my career, I was feeling lost and uninspired. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was grinding day in and day out in jobs with no sense of purpose. I remember being so worried about what I did not have, that I was missing opportunities all around me to make a difference. Worrying about the future, robbed me of my current happiness.
Got passed up for a promotion? Botch a presentation? Don't worry. Focus on learning from and maximizing every moment, and happiness will follow.
2. They live and die by their values.
Emotionally intelligent people understand that happiness is worth short-term sacrifices. You could turn a blind eye now, and it may get you through the current situation, but the path of least resistance is full of regret.
When the moment passes, all you'll be left with are feelings of remorse and disappointment -- it's not worth it.
If asked to do something you're not comfortable with, or if you're questioning whether or not to do the right thing, consider your morals. They'll act as a guide. At the end of the day, you are the one that has to live with your decisions.
3. They believe that life is a learning process.
AKA, emotionally intelligent people have a growth mindset. A growth mindset suggests that a person's potential is only limited by the amount of effort they're willing to put in -- not by "the luck of the draw."
Those with a growth mindset love to experiment and try new things. They see new opportunities as a way to learn and grow and embrace challenging situations willingly--even though the chances of failure are high.
Failure is seen as a part of the learning curve--not an indictment of their competency.
I can't tell you how many opportunities I've turned down because of stupid reasons I've told myself: "You're too young," "you're too old," "you're not smart enough," or "that's not one of your strengths."
Every day, the negative voices in our heads tell us what we cannot do and that our fate is already sealed. Emotionally intelligent people don't listen.
Learning what makes you tick and defining your own definition of success is critical to finding happiness. If you're still bouncing from accomplishment to accomplishment in search of fulfillment, take a breath and consider these EQ skills.