“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
You worked really hard to achieve success. You got top grades, landed a prestigious job, and eventually got everything you’d always wanted career-wise.
Except for one thing… you weren’t happy.
A while back, I coached an amazing woman named Sara. She reached out to me and without spilling time she asked, “hi, can you coach me?” So I did. Today, I invited her to the blog to share her story of how she reinvented, not only her career – but herself.
Read it. Let the words sink in and most importantly – make sure to leave a note to this courageous and inspirational woman who shares her story from the heart.
I leave it over to you Sara…
I always had big dreams.
Travel the world. Move to a big city. Study at a top university. Get a prestigious job title. Earn a lot of money. Buy a beautiful house and a fancy car. But also, of course, help people and save the world.
Well, as you can see my plans were pretty huge. From what I figured, success seemed to be connected to fame, money and fancy job titles. So that became my aim – to obtain those things.
What happened was that I built my identity around my performance. That basically meant that I was what I performed. Good grades translated into me being a good person. Bad grades meant I wasn’t worthy or good enough.
Throughout university, and as I entered work life, my sole focus was on being more productive, study more, and to attract the right people and positions.
Because that would lead to success, which would then lead to happiness, right?
Eventually, I had several degrees, even a PhD, and was working with pharmaceutical research at different companies in Europe. I got to travel, spend time in other offices and to lead projects that aimed at changing people’s health.
Sounds great on paper, doesn’t it?
The only problem was this: on the inside, I was screaming.
From there it just escalated. Eventually, I had to take sleeping pills and antidepressants to function. Basically, I had to take medication in order to develop new medication.
I mean, how SURREALISTIC is that?
I was treating myself to shut off my feelings to be able to function in a world I did not belong to. As you might have figured, I was not happy.
And there it was: HAPPINESS. I had focused on so many things, except being happy. I didn’t even know how to be happy, or where to begin. (Even though that was the reason I did all of the other things in the first place). But instead, I was too busy getting good grades, achieving my goals, and reaching for “success”.
One day, I couldn’t take it anymore..
It was the day when I started to kick my washing machine, screaming “I needed help!!”. That was 2 years ago.
The Starting Point of Crafting the Life I Desire
From there it was a rocky road. I wanted to move forward and create my new life. But, at the same time, I was afraid to leave my “old” life behind. After all, it was all I knew.
I was not prepared to change everything at once. This created even more frustration and negative self-talk.
To move forward, I started to take small steps. For example, I removed one thing from my to-do-list that I did not like, such as boring meetings I didn’t have to attend and added another thing that I really enjoyed doing, like attending a webinar on an interesting and relevant subject. I also connected with different people, especially people that gave me a lot of positive energy.
After one year, I started to feel like myself again. I was moving in the right direction, feeling excited again.
Changing Course and Redefining Success
It took me almost two years to come back to myself. To sort out my feelings, my beliefs and get clear on what makes me happy. In the process, I also redefined what success means to me.
Real success to me is waking up every morning feeling excited and to be able to control and plan my own time. To work with innovation in creative environments, meet enthusiastic people, read and write while helping/inspiring people on a deeper level. And at the same time balancing this with my spare time, personal growth and hobbies. And sleep, I fucking need to sleep! Haha!
This is success to me!
So today! Well, my life does not look the same…
I have cut out basically everything that doesn’t make me happy. My research has a new focus towards innovation. (Which I love!) I have met new people and I just landed a part-time position as a project manager in a field I am actually passionate about!
I am writing books, both on my own and together with other authors. Also, I’m helping people to write their story/book and publish it. Yeah, I love books so much that I will probably start my own publishing agency. Besides that, I’m planning to start my own business within the next couple of years (but that is still secret ;)).
Can you tell I’m excited..?
But, I am not going to lie, I am still scared of falling back into old habits, routines, and feelings. Today though, I’m more aware and I’m constantly making thoughtful choices based on my feelings and beliefs.
In short, I’m saying NO to what is not me and YES to what I really want.
Laying the Foundation for True Happiness and Success
Here are my three best tips for a successful and happy life:
1) Listen to yourself and your feelings
If you feel stuck, lost and/or empty – listen to that feeling. It’s telling you that something isn’t right. Connect to your feelings and picture where you want to be instead.
Surround yourself with people that encourage and believe in you. I also recommend coaching. It is like having a PT for your brain and mental beliefs. Coaching was a big life changer for me. To have someone cheering for you, and helping you to see life from a different angle.
2) Setup your own rules
No matter where you live, you got “rules” and norms that society created. For example, you might have been told that working a lot means earning a lot of money, and money is what matters.
Don’t just accept what is, but instead dare to question it. Maybe you don’t need a 9 to 5 job? Maybe you could work for a few months and then take a few months of vacation? In short, become the creator of the life you want – don’t just follow the ways things are today.
3) Define and create your own success
Do you have an idea you want to bring to fruition? Do you secretly dream of doing something, becoming someone different, or creating something new? Then don’t let anything or anyone stop you.
From my experience during these past two years, I’ve discovered that opportunities reside everywhere. People all around are looking to invest, to partner up and to lend a helping hand. If you haven’t found real-life success yet, maybe you need to invent it, because no one ever thought of it before. And that makes you a genius! 😉
Your Dreams Will Never Stop Poking You
I tried to ignore my dreams for a long time. One part was that I didn’t know what my dream was. Another part was fear. But, what I’ve learned is that frustration and living someone else’s life will slowly kill your passion for your journey.
Maybe it will take some time, but you will get there. Make it, not about the goal, but about the journey. Because when your journey is a bless and you are focused on being happy – you actually achieve more than the goal you are holding onto right now.
If you start today, you are one day closer to living your dream life.
Sara Andersson is a multi-passionate intrapreneur with many ideas on how to invent healthy living. She is a pharmacist by training combined with a business degree. She is performing research within healthcare/medtech/drug discovery and is planning to start her own business(es) within the next years.
If you can relate to her story, she’d love to hear from you: sanders.swe[at]gmail.com
Photo: Sara Andersson