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Life is short, don’t delay happiness

26 Aug 2013 | Laurence McCahill

Happy Is The New Rich

"I wished I'd spent more time in the office"

No-one on their deathbed will look back wishing they'd spent more time in the office. One of the top regrets of the dying is that they worked too hard. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, uttered 'I blew it' as his last words, despite an estimated wealth of $65 billion.  As Mike Michalowicz observed:

"How could that be? He was a full-time, always-there businessman! He would do anything to grow his business, and it gave him immense fame and fortune! But that's where the problem lies because when it came to the rest of his life, Sam wasn't nearly as dedicated. He was never really "there" as a father, husband and friend. He had the wealthiest pockets, but the poorest soul. And in those last minutes of his life, he realized where he had failed".

Life is short and we spend most of our waking lives at work. It's a big part of who we are, so it's important that however we earn a living, we also enjoy what we do, ideally in a role that complements important priorities in our lives like family and relationships. If you're stuck in a job you hate, or if you find yourself never really "there" when you're with the most important people in your life, then it's about time something changed. You only have one shot, so make it count.

For many people, happiness depends on finding the right 'work-life balance'. But the term 'work-life balance' implies that we leave our 'real' selves for the margins of life. Shouldn't it all be just 'life'? We should all strive for work feeling more like play. It shouldn't compete with important aspects of life - our businesses should embrace our individual priorities so the lines are blurred. David Hieatt, founder of The Do Lectures wrote an eye-opening piece on looking at your life in two ways:

"Imagine on your deathbed you were able to see two films of your life: One showed highlights of what you actually achieved. And then the other showed highlights of what you could have achieved with your ability, your talent, the opportunities that came your way etc. It would probably bring you to tears to know what else you could have done. The heights you could have climbed. The people you could have met. The ideas you could have made happen. The change you could have made. If only when you had come to the edge, you hadn't taken that step back to safety. If you had just kept going after failing that one time. If only you had believed in that crazy dumb idea enough to tell the world about it. Yes, if only you hadn't, well, played so damn small."

Imagine how fulfilling your life would be if you stopped taking those steps back to safety and did everything you've always dreamed of doing.

Find meaning

A key indicator in a person's happiness is having meaning and wider purpose in their role. Having an impact and feeling like you are contributing positively matters more to workers than salary, location and prospects. It's time we all started working to make a difference rather than working to make a living, not only to find balance in our work and everyday lives, but to develop more meaningful businesses.

Success ≠ happiness (happiness = success)

A common misconception is that if we work hard, happiness will follow. That once we become successful only then can we be truly happy. People wait around for that pay rise or promotion to bring success so they can eventually afford that new car and buy their way to happiness. However studies tell us that once our basic needs are met, money has very little impact on our happiness levels. So if you're working tirelessly for financial 'success', then chances are you'll be disappointed.

Don't defer your happiness to a later date that may never come. Life is short. Enjoy the journey as well as the destination. This means you can love each day, not the finish line.

At The Happy Startup School, we're helping people strive for their dreams and to find more meaning in their lives. We've seen first hand that too much of the business world focuses on the mechanics of business and the fastest way to make profit. Whilst it's good to move fast and stay lean, it's time we made our businesses more human and in the process give employees, customers and stakeholders the happiness we all deserve.

Our aim is to change the face of business by encouraging more people to tap into their passion, and find meaning in their lives through entrepreneurship. Our hope is that we can encourage people to leave jobs they're unfulfilled in and take control of their lives. To stop dreaming, start doing.

There is a better way to do business, and it's forward thinking companies like Zappos.com, Patagonia and Southwest Airlines who are leading the way. They're making happiness their business model, placing more focus on their people and passion, which as it happens, drives profits.

Happystartup -canvas -edit

We've been exploring different ways we can educate startups so budding entrepreneurs can build sustainable businesses of the future. The Happy Startup Canvas is a framework we've developed to help startups define their DNA and lay some foundations for a sustainable business. It places emphasis on the (long neglected) human side of business, such as your values and purpose. We've put on workshops and meetups in Central London for budding entrepreneurs where we provide them with the tools, knowledge and support network they need to build happy startups of their own and with this, we've given people the opportunity to meet like minded souls, the next generation of changemakers, many of whom swap skills to help one another reach their business goals.

In September we're excited to be hosting our first Happy Startup Summercamp, a day of hands-on learning with some of the most inspiring people we know - speakers such as Nic Marks and Henry Stewart. All with the aims of sharing knowledge, skills and connections with the people that may need it most - budding entrepreneurs and early stage business owners looking to build the best companies of the future.

Summer Camp

Laurence McCahill is founder of The Happy Startup School. If you'd like to be a part of their Happy Startup Summercamp, sign up with the promocode 'HAPPINESS' and receive 10% discount across all tickets. 10% of all profits go to Action for Happiness


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