Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I'm reflecting on an important question: are you striving for material things or are you striving for happiness and peace? When evaluating this question, it's important to look at your actions. They speak much, much louder than your words and thoughts. What are your goals? What do you spend your days working towards? Be honest. Do they reflect a person who is trying to achieve happiness and peace in her life, or do they reflect a person who is more concerned with buying a designer handbag, a nicer car, a condo, etc? Let me be clear - none of these things are bad or wrong - it's perfectly fine to desire them and they have an appropriate place in a well-rounded life. But what is your driving force? The chief motivator for getting up each day? What are you working so hard for? Is it stuff or is it happiness?
I'll go first. Back when I was a lawyer, I was 100%, without a doubt, absolutely not striving for happiness or peace. I mean, the idea never even crossed my mind. I worked in a law firm and the people there strived for the job title of "partner", a Lexus or Mercedes, a home in the nicest part of town, a Louis Vuitton bag to carry to work, a big diamond ring, a husband, 2.5 kids, and so forth. "I guess that's what I'm supposed to strive for too?," I thought. I was 26 years old, easily influenced, and eager to please my managers in my very first legal job. "Happiness" never really crossed my radar. I bet a lot of you can relate to this. Looking back, it's quite amazing that the corporate world still works this way. In eleven years of working as an attorney no boss or superior ever asked me, "Are you happy? Does your work make you happy? If not, how can we make you happy?" Those questions are almost laughable if you've worked in corporate America, aren't they? They are not even a consideration.
What about you - has the idea of working towards happiness, instead of job titles or things, ever crossed your mind? Have you even stopped to think about it?
It seems so obvious, but perhaps this is one of the reasons many people are unhappy at work. If you're old enough to know anything about life, you know that you've got to get intentional about the things you want to achieve. If you want X, you have to determine what will get you to X and actually try those things. So if you want happiness, you have to determine what will get you personal happiness and actually try to make those things happen. Happiness does not fall out of the sky. We have to be intentional about it, just like anything else. And humans are designed to want more than nice cars and fancy homes - we're designed to want connection and meaning and purpose through our work. So it's no surprise that a large portion of America is unhappy in their careers when the focus so clearly remains on external things like job titles and the accumulation of stuff.
If you're feeling empty at work, this might be why. Have you ever considered what would actually make you happy and what it might take to get there? Don't be embarrassed to say no. To be honest, in my 20's and early 30's, I had a hard time identifying feelings in general. I saw a therapist after my dad passed away and I distinctly remember her showing me a big long list of emotions because I rarely responded with more than the basics. You know, happy, sad, lonely, that sorta thing. Through my work with her, I realized how disconnected I was with a lot of emotions, not just happiness, and she really helped me evolve in that way. I don't think this is an uncommon problem, especially in high-achieving professions. Those professions often attract a certain type of people-pleasing person, where your own emotions or feelings about a thing don't necessarily matter per se. If you've lived with that people pleasing habit for a long time, you might be really disconnected from feelings in general. I mention this to say, you might need to take a couple baby steps back before you truly are able to identify what will make you happy. You might first need to get in tune with your feelings overall before you are really able to hone in on what will make you really, truly happy. I can tell you it's work worth doing - it leads to a more vibrant experience of life in general.
So this week I challenge you to get honest with yourself. What are your actions revealing about your priorities? Are you working hard to reward yourself with a designer bag, or are you working hard to achieve a level of happiness and peace in your life? When you reflect on this question, what you find out might help you make some important changes or shifts in your career and in your life.
I hope you've found this week's journal entry enlightening. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. I hope you're able to learn something from my experience and also my mistakes!
P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I'm in the process of creating a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate all of my journal entries. I have a few weekly journal entries on the board right now, and I'm adding more on a weekly basis. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past couple years and I want to make it easier for you to read the entries that resonate most!