How Do You Measure Success?
Danielle Pinkus explores what being good at life means in 2014.
These days, the notion of success seems less about money and more about reaching happiness. The tricky part is that things that equal happiness today, won’t necessarily cut it tomorrow, hence we find ourselves wanting to be happier than before, and than the next person.
The Broken Ladder
For a long time, the ideal model for “the good life” went a little like this: Uni to good job, marriage to family and secure career, then retirement. Fast-forward to 2014: Success is now steering away from traditional job security and big salaries, and heading towards getting the most out of life. Social researcher Neer Korn (thekorngroup.com.au) says reaching the top of the career ladder is no longer a goal like it was in the 80s because the sacrifice was too high. The reason was two-fold, Korn explains. The economic fun police came to town in the 90s after the big-time spending of the 80s. Budgets were cut and employees realised that they were dispensable and started taking control of their careers by starting small businesses.
This founded the dot com revolution. As a result secure career and ace corporate perks fell out of fashion as success indicators were replaced by doing something you cared about and working on your own terms. Enter: The happiness model.
There’s only one rule to this new-wave of success: You can have it all as long as you go out and get it yourself. The upside to this is that it all comes down to a person assessing their own life in order to improve it and ultimately feel content.
Sounds like we have it pretty damn sweet, right? Well, kinda. According to Korn, “[Some people think that] happiness is an unrealistic goal and one of the many emotions people need to be content with.”
Social media plays a massive part in why we’re hooked on thinking in terms of more when it comes to reaching a happy status. With one scroll of our feed, we can go from feeling like we’re killing it at life to wondering why we missed the memo. Korn says, “It’s an obsession where people portray an ideal self rather than the reality of life.” This can be dangerous in the self-esteem department because while we have varied definitions of what it means to be happy, it can certainly be tempting to buy into other people’s dreams. So it seems we can’t help but envy a co-worker’s snap of their awesome wardrobe or feel a pinch of heart pain after seeing yet another “We’re engaged” on Facebook. The truth is, there’s a bit of ego in having fun and being uber busy. It can feel like we’re all competing to see who’s got it more together. All of a sudden, happiness seems a lot like hard work.
Whatever it is you’re working towards, it can feel like there isn’t time to give yourself a high-five before pushing ahead, guns blazing. “For some, getting out of bed will be a success. For others, it’s a turnover of RM1 million,” says Brewer. “It’s important to celebrate and praise yourself for the small steps along the way.” Cue a happy dance like nobody’s watching.
Little Successes (That Totally Count)