What I've Learned About Happiness From Interviewing Successful Entrepreneurs
We published an 85 Broads article today, about the changing definition of success, which really struck a personal chord with me. It got me thinking about all the outstanding female entrepreneurs I have interviewed over the past year, and the common threads I have noticed weaving through so many of these conversations, particularly with regard to the notion of success.
By the traditional metrics, I would by no means be considered successful (no university education, husband or mortgage in sight and a humble salary to boot), but in my mind, I've "made it".
Why? Because I measure success differently. I have a fulfilling and interesting job with the freedom to travel wherever there is an internet connection. I live most of the year on a beach in Ecuador and have the flexibility to surf (badly!) every day, according to the tides, not my working hours. To me, this is success. And how did I achieve it? By taking the plunge, leaving corporate life and striking out on my own as an Editor. By defining and living my own very personal version of success, I have found happiness.
Certainly, being an entrepreneur can bring traditionally measured success (and of course, beach bum life is certainly not everyone's idea of "making it"!), but the more entrepreneurial women I speak to, the more I hear about personal measures of success: flexibility and freedom; more time to spend with the family; the satisfaction of building something from scratch or seeing a vision realised.
From my own personal experience, and through talking with so many entrepreneurial women who have been overwhelmingly as positive about their life choices as I am about mine, I have come to believe that the key to happiness lies in defining your own personal success, rather than using the conventional metrics by default.
It is encouraging that the younger generation seem to be thinking along similar lines, with entrepreneurialism climbing steadily amongst the 20-somethings. In a recent survey of 500 Millenials by Buzz Marketing Group, 33% were planning to start their own business in the next year. In addition, 44% described themselves as single, showing that many Millenials are are opting out of marriage and serious relationships, as well as traditional career paths.
Of course, pursuing the traditional notion of success brings happiness to many. But whether the definition of your own personal success involves a degree, married life, a mortgage, a well paid corporate career, launching your own enterprise or writing articles from a hammock, the very act of defining it will mean that when it happens, you will not just be "living the dream", you'll be living YOUR dream.
Wishing the whole The NextWomen community both happiness and success, whatever it means to you. Over and out from Ecuador. Surf's up!
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