My New Outlook on Success and Happiness

This is the first post in my new “Lessons of 2018” series. I knew 2018 would be a year of transition, learning, and building for me. My longer term goals require me to work on expanding my personal & professional knowledge. This series will help me to organize my thoughts and outline the variety of lessons I will learn over the course of 2018. Please take a look and let me know what you think below!


I am in shock at how quickly the first quarter 2018 flew by-- and yes, I'm at a point in my life where I think in terms of quarters! I have been so busy that a small part of me is excited to wave goodbye to the winter months and get moving with the year. At work, I did a ton of cool new stuff, and some personal highlights this year have included going to a ceramics class with my good friend Jess, a weekend trip to Chicago to visit my BFF Kelly, taking 22 fitness classes in February, and also starting an online coding class through General Assembly.

Last September, I started a new role at work that I have been so excited about, and this quarter has felt like the first time where I am really starting to get into a groove. My role is in employee training and onboarding, and a huge part of that is meeting new people, helping them get set up, and making sure they have opportunities to get to know the company and start to thrive in their role.

Something happened in the last month which was that my role became a bit more visible and defined in the eyes of people I work with. I was able to put on a few events, send some fun company emails, and help out with some more visible projects, and people have become a bit more intrigued by what I’m working on. I was meeting with someone I hadn’t yet met in person, and she asked me what my days look like. I enthusiastically told her what I was doing that exact day, and she replied with something along the lines of “wow, your job is so fun!”

I thought about that all day. I do feel like my job is so fun. And it is cool because I do feel happy, and I’m starting to find success in the role. Professional happiness is something that I would hope that everyone would feel at some point in their own careers. I started to wonder if, as I walk around the world, other people feel that way about their work and their jobs. There are certain jobs that I would absolutely hate that other peers of mine absolutely love. 

I would love to think that everyone is super jealous of me and wants my life, but I started to reflect on the reality that surely not everyone wants to be doing the work that I’m doing. Sometimes it feels like I am talking to people ALL day, and I do a lot of work that I bet some people would consider to be the worst.

But that’s not how I feel about it. I truly enjoy most of the work that appears on my to-do list. It got me thinking about how while I feel like I’m on the right path for a career I can be excited about, my job might not be attractive to other people. We may have a different vision of productive paths or enjoyable ways to spend a day. So while I may feel happy and successful in my role, someone else might not be happy at all doing the things that I do. And visa-versa. So what is professional happiness really?

The Lesson

From this, I discovered a new way of thinking of success and happiness. Growing up and even earlier in my career, when discussing success, I would have talked about how high up I would make it in the world, or what salary I had, or what other people thought of my career. And please don’t get me wrong, these things are still pretty important to me, but as they relate to happiness, and enjoyment of my day to day, I’ve started to think about it differently.

I’ve started to measure my happiness and success not by how far up a ladder I can climb, but how close I can live to my own authentic inner core.

Growing up, you learn to care about things. You develop passions, needs, and values. You develop natural curiosities and passions, and from that, skills and abilities. You become a one of a kind product of all you've been through, all you've learned, and everything you’ve gained and lost. I realized that the reason I feel happy is not that I’m super high up in a company because that’s not true, but I am still happy. And it’s not because I’m filthy rich because I’m just not. 

The reason I feel professional happiness is because every day, I am doing work that is very close to my core values. I’m doing work that aligns with how I feel, and what I actually care about, and even what I’m naturally better at. My work feels easier because I’m obsessed with it. And I’m obsessed with my work because it authentically aligns with my core.

It’s so funny to look back and reflect on the ways that I’ve defined my own happiness. It has been so much more focused on how the world views me or how big my apartment is. And as I get older, I am shocked to learn how underdeveloped those definitions were. I believe money helps (a lot), but I’ve learned that if I want to wake up and be excited about how I’m living my life, it just can’t be about those things. So I have a new definition of success and happiness which I’m sure will change 3 years from now when I’m even older and even wiser.

“My success & happiness can be better measured by my ability to build a life that aligns with my core than by the ladders I climb or the status I hold.”

I would never have been able to understand a definition like this ten years ago, or even five, or just one. This concept is very new to me and I’m sure I’ll develop it over the next 30 years as I continue to build a life that aligns with new challenges and joys that enter my life, but I’m excited about this new definition for me!

Have you ever had this kind of change in viewpoint? About happiness or anything else? I’m very curious to hear about it. Comment below or you can reach me by email at, or on Twitter and Instagram @therealbenhawes.

Happy international happiness day!

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