I just want to be happy.” It’s one of the most common answers to the question “what are your long-term goals?” I’ve been running a business for over 10 years. Early in my career, when I asked this question to candidates interviewing for a position at my company, the most common answer was “I want to be successful.” People wanted to be successful. Now when I ask this question, most answers are centered around being happy.
I started to notice this over the last year and I was curious about the change. Is it just the new generation coming into the workforce? Is it the pandemic that has everyone thinking differently? I’m not 100% sure, but what I do know based on years of personal development, is that happiness cannot be a goal.
If it’s a goal, that means you don’t currently have it. In the book The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, they talk about the thought process that most Americans go through to be happy. “When I have this, then I’ll be happy.” So we go after “this” and then we feel happy. For a while. Unfortunately, human nature doesn’t let us get too comfortable. The minute we get what we want, it’s only a matter of time before we want something else. Life becomes this constant chase from one thing to the other, looking for something to make us happy.
What I have found is that happiness is something you choose. Right now. It doesn’t find you. You create it. It comes from so many things. Achievement. Follow through. Generosity. Kindness. Connection. Activity. Leisure. It is not circumstantial. You don’t have to find it. You create it. It’s never the relationship, the job, the income, the house, the clothes, etc. that make you happy. It’s you, how you see yourself, and the world around you.
I have had highs and lows in my career but have only recently learned to be happy regardless of the results. I used to think that when things were hard or not going the way I wanted, I couldn’t be happy. But when things are challenging, I can still choose to be happy. I can choose to appreciate what I am learning and how I am growing. I can be happy that my experience may help me or someone else in the future.
Happiness comes when you encourage and empower others, when you stretch outside of your comfort zone, when you improve, and when you learn. My hope is that as you read this, you feel happiness daily. Feel it in your conversations, feel it in your habits, and feel it in your actions. Stop looking for it. You already have it.
About the Author: Nicole Skovgard was born and raised in Long Beach, CA. She attended Indiana University, where she majored in Communications and minored in Psychology and Entrepreneurship. Growing up playing competitive soccer, Nicole knew she wanted to have a career that would be challenging and rewarding, but where she could move up based on her work ethic. You can read more about her and the team here.