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Why Your New Year’s Resolution Might End in Failure (And How to Fix It)

Picture of Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Are you chasing success or already being successful? What is success anyway?

Hello! Angela Guido is back for another year of career and MBA content with some seasonal advice on how to be successful (and how not to chase it!).

This ties in to our Happy at Work series, and there’s no better time of year to start finding happiness in your career! Start here.

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Today I have a really simple idea for you. It’s the idea that we have misunderstood the formula for success. I’m going to share this new idea with you in the hopes that it will allow you to make Monday better. Hello, everyone! Welcome back to Make Mondays Better. I’m Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, a career and MBA coach, a former management consultant and recruiter from the Boston Consulting Group, and a former HR manager at KPMG, and I’m here to help you be happier at work one Monday at a time.


The Path To “Success” Doesn’t Have To Be A Never-ending Journey

For the most part, we live our lives thinking that success is something out there, over there, somewhere else in space and time. And so we spend our lives, our days, our hours, and minutes striving. We’re working hard, we’re trying to get somewhere. We’re trying to be a better version of who we are, make fewer mistakes, get things right, perfect the universe, so to speak. You know, to be one of those ‘successful people’. 

We’re aiming for success like it’s a target that exists somewhere else. And we believe that if we’re able to hit that target, if we arrive at that destination of success, then we’ll have a happy life

The problem with this construct is that it actually reverses the true nature of the relationship between happiness and success. If you think about it, and really think, take a moment to look at your career, at the choices that you’ve made in your life to date and see if you can discern this implicit assumption that you would be happier by the time you were more successful, and you’ve been chasing that elusive moment when you finally had a ‘successful life‘ and could really be happy. 

Now, this is not to say that you’ve been miserable this whole time. That may be true, but it may also be that you’re generally happy. You’re living a pretty good life, but you’re still striving for something that’s over there, on the path to success, something greater that will make you more successful and happier. If you’ve ever actually achieved such a goal, you’ll probably be the first person to admit that it didn’t quite work out exactly as you thought. With every trophy and accolade and achievement you collect, there’s ten more that pop up on the horizon. It’s kind of a never-ending journey to finally arrive at that moment of success and therefore happiness.


Focus On Being Happy Right Now & Success Will Follow

Take a moment and see if you can just very simply reverse that equation for yourself and try it on in a new way. Consider that being happy is what creates success, not the other way around. In fact, we could even argue that being happy is already being successful, because if you think about it, as human beings, we only pursue objectives for one reason, and that is to feel better, or in other words, to be happy. 

There’s pretty much only one thing going on in human motivation: we want to feel better, we want to be happy, and we want to avoid pain. That’s just the other side of the same coin. This is the only thing that we’re doing in life. We’re trying to feel better and avoid feeling worse. 

So, if you’re chasing success in your daily life trying to feel better, you’ve got yourself in a conundrum. Because instead of focusing on achieving happiness one day or after this achievement is accomplished, if you just instead focus on being happy right now, you’re going to find that success will chase you. You’re already going to have a feeling of success within you because you’ve achieved the goal of feeling better and feeling good about yourself. 

If you want some really practical tools to help you feel happier at work now, be sure to watch my Happy At Work video series, which you can find by clicking here. I’m giving you lots of practical tools and tips to be happier at work today, and what you’ll find is that that’s going to amplify and accelerate your success. 

But not to give you too much homework, I want to give you one tip to reverse the equation of happiness and success that you’ve had backwards all this time. One of the easiest ways to amplify your happiness right now at work is to acknowledge and celebrate something meaningful that you’ve already achieved. I recommend you choose an accomplishment that resulted in you growing as a person. If you’ve been working for even a few weeks, you’ve already grown in your life. You started not knowing how to do something, you took some action, you learned how to do it, and you produced a result. 

So, take a moment right now and just list out at least three ways in which you’ve grown as a person in your career. This week, this month, this year, or since the beginning of time. In your personal life or at work. The scope and scale of growth doesn’t matter. It just matters that it’s something you can acknowledge has changed within you for the better through your work. Take a moment and make a short list. 

And while you’re at it, leave me a comment. 

Tell me what’s one way in which you’ve already grown as a person. 

Now appreciate that fact. Nobody forced you to grow. You did that yourself. 

You did it because you want to be who you’re meant to be. You did it because you find joy and satisfaction in expanding who you are, not necessarily because it helps you reach a better or different destination. Growth is something to celebrate in and of itself. It’s a source of joy by itself.

Are you feeling a little bit happier right now? More positive emotions? 

Take note. Celebrating who you already are will shift your focus from the abstract future that you’re aiming towards and bring you back into the present moment where you can acknowledge that you are already happy. If you do this, you’ll notice how success will suddenly start to chase you. 

Everything will become easier, and even when it’s hard, it will be more joyful, because you’re with yourself now as the happy, accomplished, developed human being that you are. I hope this makes your Monday better. I will see you next week!

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