Over the last decade, I’ve thought a lot about “what makes me happy.” 🤔
When I first got out of college, I always strived to get higher-paying jobs and consistently “move up the chain.” I thought this was what I had to do to achieve happiness. Every new job I got had more pay involved, so I met that goal. But my happiness didn’t necessarily go up at the same rate as the money.
Sure, money can make your life easier, a hell of a lot easier. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be happier. And yes, this whole thing sounds like a cliche, but it took me a long time and many different jobs to finally come around to understand the saying “money can’t buy happiness.”
Our whole society has skewed the concept of what happiness is. We’re constantly comparing ourselves to others, which is the entire problem. If you do this, you’ll never stack up no matter how high you rise.
I’ve been doing my own thing with my brother for the past two years now. I actually took a considerable pay decrease when leaving my previous job. I also didn’t know a pandemic would hit a month later. But you know what? I’ve never been happier.
Here are some of the reasons why:
- I’ve come to realize that I don’t do well in high-stress environments. I might appear to thrive in it, but I don’t always handle stress well. Removing myself from this on a day-to-day basis has helped a lot.
- I’ve always been an introvert, and so being my own boss is something I prefer. Give me my laptop, my synthwave Spotify playlist, and no interruptions, and I’ll be a happy camper. I love grabbing coffee with folks, but that’s knowing I can retreat to my apartment after it’s over.
- I have an autoimmune disease. This means I have good months and bad months. Not having the stress of how this might impact others (coworkers especially) has really helped me manage it better. I also hate traveling because of this.
- I realized that going from a hundred people in a Slack channel down to two people probably added a few years onto my life. 🤣
As you can see, none of these have anything to do with numbers on a paycheck. For me, it came down to finding a work environment that best suited my mental and physical health.
Some people love managing teams, some love the hustle and bustle of growing startups, and some prefer a typical nine-to-five job in a cubical. I’ve been in all of these positions, and I’ve discovered that none of them suit me well.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed all my previous jobs, and the learning experiences and challenges have been priceless. But I’m also my own worst enemy regarding burnout and stress. I’m a workaholic by nature, always have been. And that can be a dangerous trait.
I realize mental health can sometimes be a sensitive topic, but we all struggle with it to some extent. I encourage everyone to take a look wherever you are in your career and ask yourself if it’s the best environment for your mental and physical health. If it isn’t, do whatever it takes to get to one that’s healthier for you (it might take time).
And remember, that doesn’t necessarily mean earning more money. It might mean making less.