Success or happiness (or both) ?

When sitting down to think about your financial planning, ‘success’ and ‘happiness’ are often equated with each other.

Success leads to happiness, conventional wisdom dictates; with one comes the other.

Success and happiness though are very broad ideas. The majority of people, reading the above, are likely to equate success as referring to a successful career. Happiness in your personal life is then a result of this, whether from simply being happy that you have been successful in your working life or, perhaps more likely, feeling as though your successful career has given you the funds to pursue things that make you happy.

For many people though, particularly those in later life, the success and happiness equation is different.

If you take success out of the discussion for a moment then many people who have retired will tell you that happiness comes from seeing their family, from watching the grandchildren grow up, from a simple walk to the local pub and a day spent reading a book. None of those things require ‘success’ as we’ve defined it above.

Other common things people cite as bringing them happiness include donating money to charity, helping family members in some way, staying active and seeing friends. Again, none of those things particularly require a highly successful career.

Of course, for many people, a successful career will be something that they want, but it is worth considering where the true root of your happiness lies. Many people do not equate happiness with their car or their large house, for example, though these are things that we typically associate with success and strive towards during a career.

It is also perceived wisdom that success must come first, before happiness; ‘I have had a good career, now I can retire happy’, whilst the above suggests that need not be the case. Small things that increase your happiness can be achieved at any point during your life, if they are properly planned for.

For anyone you know who is not currently engaging in financial planning then, ask them what they think of success and happiness and how they plan to achieve both. Armed with your knowledge about true success and happiness, you’ll happily be able to break the news to them that they can start being happier straight away!