Success Does Not Equal Happiness (5 minute read)

Learn about the difference between being successful professionally and being genuinely happy.


Success, we all are striving to achieve it and yet it is so elusive. Each time we reach a new peak there is another even higher mountain to climb on the horizon. Even if we reach the highest peak possible then what?

If your happiness is connected to achieving some future goal I would like to tell you a cautionary tale.

It was 2009, the full impact of the Great Recession was being felt all over the world. In my heart, I longed to take control of my career and life so I quit my job and became an entrepreneur. It was a dream of mine and I was convinced it would bring me happiness.

The entrepreneurial journey I took was one of the most challenging things I have ever done. It was my goal to build a company, systemize the business so it would operate independently of me, and then sell the business. This was my definition of success and I was convinced it was going to make me happy.

6 years later, on January 1st, 2016 we announced the acquisition and merger of my company. Success had been achieved, happiness was about to arrive. It was very exciting, I was very proud of my entrepreneurial success, and I was happy to an extent but something totally unexpected happened.

The Unexpected Challenge

I’m 37 years old with an entrepreneurial success story, but now what? I’m too young to retire and I couldn’t afford that despite the sale of my company. Despite my success, I was a little lost. Now that I sold my company was I even an entrepreneur anymore? What should I do next?

2016 was a very interesting year. Part of the merger deal was that I would work on the management team but I was not involved in day-to-day operations. I needed and wanted to work, I did a few months of consulting for an importer of LED lighting, I did some contracting for a few months, I did some coaching with an entrepreneur who has a flooring business, I went to work for a company as a B2B Sales Account Manager, and I launched this BLOG.

As the year came to a close I was left grappling with this question:

Now what?

As we entered 2017 I set some new professional goals which include focusing on my career as a Sales Professional and building a personal brand but I no longer rely on achieving those goals to make me happy. Success comes and goes but the happiness I was searching for I now realize must be rooted in something else.

The problem with tying happiness to success is that success is a very fluid thing. You can reach all your goals like I did, so by definition you are successful but that does not guarantee happiness.

In fact, after successfully completing a monumental project like building a business from nothing and selling it I was more exhausted than anything else. Plus after the sale and transition period was complete I had a real feeling of let down.

Don’t get me wrong, working hard and achieving big professional goals is rewarding but as a stand alone happiness producing strategy, it has some holes. Happiness itself is a fluid moving target.

My strategy in 2017 is to work on developing contentment with the way things are, not on how I dream they will be in the future if only I can reach this goal or that goal. Honestly, I have no idea if this will make me happier or not but I think the strategy has some merit.

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Author: Jamie Irvine

Teaching Small Business Owners the Blueprint of a Great Business | I'm the Chief Instructor at the Blueprint of Greatness a School for Entrepreneurs and CEO at

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