The book If I Knew Thenoffers advice on careers, finances, and life from the Harvard Business School's Class of 1963. It's interesting to note that no one says having a ridiculous amount of business success and money is the key to happiness. Instead, goal setting, contributing to your community, and gratitude all rank high on the list of advice. Alumni Robert McNutt shares, "I think about all my blessings and keep an attitude of gratitude. Success is leaving the world better than when I arrived."
There's good news if you're unhappy, yet successful, or delaying happiness until you discover success. You can be both successful and happy right now in your business and personal life. You can slow down, take a step back to reflect, and find a better path for yourself. There's not a big secret to it, but there are a handful of universal truths that can help guide you. Here are 11 ways to get started:
1. Read a New Book Weekly
Entrepreneurs never stop learning and making new goals. Part of that formula is about making their businesses a reality and achieving success to begin with. But curiosity and learning are also a natural part of being an entrepreneur. Successful people all started with a burning question, problem, thought, or inspiration that led them on a path towards business building.
As your business commitments grow, the time to explore your curiosities often plummets. Fortunately, you don't need much time to read one new book a week, whether it's about entrepreneurship, productivity, or just a phenomenal model. Here are 100 book ideas to get started.
2. Mentor Others
Helping others is a feel-good path to happiness that can also help you build your network and refine your skills. The end goal is to give back and help someone else rise through the ranks with a helping, and well-connected, hand. But mentoring can also give you exposure to new ideas and opportunities, and lets your industry and followers see you in a new light.
3. Create a Daily Plan
Everyone always points out that life is short, but they rarely tell you to take immediate, strategic action by creating a daily plan. Spend a few minutes each night jotting out how you want to spend the next day. Take time to reflect at the end of each week and month to see what you accomplished and what still needs work. The more you're in control of your time and goals, the happier you'll be.
4. Practice Gratitude
You will be hard-pressed to find a list about happiness that omits practicing gratitude. There's a reason we need to stop and remember what we're grateful for in the first place: constantly living in a state of delayed thanks and worrying about tomorrow just leads to a never-ending cycle of frustration. Regularly expressing why our lives, friends, colleagues, work, and health are so great keeps us in the moment and reminds us that the success we're after is already here.
5. Get Rid of Non-Essentials
Amassing an endless list of things doesn't make us happy. Finally going out and buying that new BMW may feel fantastic for a few weeks, but the feeling soon fades and is just replaced by another tangible goal. There's nothing wrong with wanting the new car or house by the lake, but focusing on it as a symbol of success doesn't lead to happiness. Trim down on your non-essentials, from the extra televisions and gadgets, to the souvenirs and knick-knacks. The forward momentum and new energy will help clear out the clutter from your home, as well as your mind.
6. Look Beyond Money
Like collecting too many things, amassing an unlimited stream of cash only makes us happy for so long. Just look at Richard Branson. He's a billionaire and still happily working with a smile plastered across his face in every photo we see. If he was just working for the money, he would have stopped several million dollars ago. Instead, he keeps doing what he loves best and focuses on his businesses and new innovations.
Maybe people don't take writing down everything from their thoughts to their frustrations and goals seriously enough because journaling is easy and free. In reality, keeping a daily journal can immediately empower you and provide a personal medium of reflection. Look over how your week has been going, which goals you've dedicated yourself to, and how you've been feeling about where your career is headed.
8. Spend Money on Experiences
If you think money can't buy happiness, you're wrong. Harvard Business School professor Michael Norton also researched the science of spending, and found that people get more happiness out of spending on experiences than on material things. It's notable that even though spending money on a smartphone lasts longer than spending money on taking a class or splurging for a nice dinner with friends, the latter makes us happier. Norton also discovered that the anticipation of the experiences we invest money in makes us happier than our stuff.
9. Schedule Vacations
Scheduling vacations that get us away from the grind and everyday routine are crucial to our happiness. Like spending money on experiences, vacations provide a way to reconnect and bond with our family and friends. Professor Norton admits that spending money on vacation can lead to stresses like delayed flights, screaming children, or a rained-out beach party. But over time, we remember the rosy moments that continue to grow positively in our minds.
10. Forgive and Move On
Carrying around resentment is a one-way ticket to misery and unhappiness. We carry around that bitterness, and soon spend all of our time thinking about our old boss, co-workers or former friend who betrayed us. Soon we spend all of our time festering in that negativity instead of moving on and enjoying our life and the people in it.
Make the decision to forgive someone, and commit yourself to it. Forgiveness doesn't necessarily mean you absolve someone of their wrongdoing and dismiss it altogether. It simply means you choose to let go of the resentment and move on with your life.
11. Choose Happiness
Our emotions and thoughts can be influenced by everything from an unhappy memory to what we eat or how much sleep we get. And that's precisely why we shouldn't let our bodies and minds dictate how we feel on a daily basis. Happiness is a choice, not something that just happens to us by chance and actually endures.
A study in the Journal of Positive Psychology found that that listening to positive music may increase happiness, particularly when combined with the intention to become happier. The happier and more grateful you are on a regular basis, the more motivated you'll be to keep pushing yourself to a new ideal of success.
What other ways do successful people stay happy? Leave a comment and let us know below.