How do you define happiness? What makes you happy? Clearly, happiness is different for everyone. What is the one thing, if you had to give up everything else, that makes you happy? What really does it for you?
- Stuff such as cars, houses, material things
- Charity work
Can you define your happiness? Do you feel fulfilled? Joy? Satisfaction? Can the things in the list above, provide joy and satisfaction?
I was raised in a middle-class, hard working, divorced family. Mom worked. Dad worked. I started earning money at fourteen by babysitting. I have never stopped. We (brother & sister) were raised to work and provide our own way.
I did like many of you, I worked any job I could get until I got my first “real” job. Started college with student loans and off I went. After many years, I landed my first HR job. In my mind, I would find success once I reached a specific salary. That was the goal. I continued to work, realizing that HR was far more complex than I was ever taught in college. It was also stressful and demanding.
I finally landed at a great company and I just knew I could hit my goal. Once I hit that goal, I would be happy.
During this time, life happened. Marriage, divorce, loss, grief. Life. All the good and too much of the bad. Also, during this time, I hit my goal. YAY! But guess what, I didn’t feel happy. I felt tired, overwhelmed, stressed and this list goes on and on…
After losing two very important people in my life, it hit me, happiness is not achieved by anything other than family and friends that matter and balance. I definitely did not have balance. I had withdrawn from my friends and spent time with family by forcing myself. Sure, I had a great paycheck but so what? I was miserable. There had to be a better way because this life was going to put me in an early grave.
I began to plan. There had to be a way to find balance. It was time for me to define my happiness. I had to find a way to make money and enjoy life. Then…BAM! Covid hit the world and began to take its toll on all of us. If you work in HR, you understand the toll covid took on HR professionals. Personally, this was another setback towards finding my balance.
Finally, eighteen months later, I was the lowest I can ever remember. It was time for a change, despite how risky it may be. I chose to retire at age 55, after 17 years of service with my company. This was about me. Not money. Not position. Just me.
It has been almost two years. I would not change a thing. Sure, my income is a bit less lucrative but my life is so much more full. I have reconnected with my amazing friends. I have started to go out and enjoy life. Spending time with my family has become welcome as opposed to feeling like effort. My business is slowly but surely taking off.
My message to anyone reading this, find your happiness. Here is a tip: true happiness is rarely tangible. Find something you love to do and find a way to make money doing it. Spend time with people that matter because tomorrow is never promised. You can make money, you cannot replace those that matter. Find a way to be happy. Take the risk, it will be worth it.