In January of 2014, I was considering what my newly begun year would be like while 39,000 feet in the air. I was on a flight to Miami and New Years’ resolutions were on my mind. Of course, everyone remembers all of their failed resolutions of years past. Some of my own failed resolutions are an unsuccessful book club and—I’m sure everyone can relate to this—the yearly effort to exercise more.
Instead of making a list of unrealistic habits I’d like to pick up, I decided to focus on one goal: happiness. Full disclosure—I had recently watched a Ted Talk on deathbed regrets. Inspired by the Ted Talk and the quiet reflection time on the flight, I landed in Miami with a plan. I came up with four key principles for happiness:
- To be grateful.
- To prioritize friends and family.
- To do and experience more.
- To help others.
The first principle is the most important of the four because gratitude informs the other three principles. Without appreciating friends, family, experiences, and helping others, you can’t truly be happy.
In the five years that I’ve been running a business, there are two things that I am most grateful for: 1) the ability to constantly learn and grow, and 2) strong relationships.
Making mistakes is expected. What makes them valuable instead of frustrating is the ability to learn from them. I’m so often amazed at how much our company has learned, and I credit a lot of that growth to learning from mistakes. By being appreciative of any mistake and seeing it as an opportunity for change, I’m excited for future challenges.
One challenge that Perfect Search has faced occurred when we attempted to move to a new office in a single weekend. (Crazy, right?) So many things went wrong during the process. From a late internet provider to furniture mishaps to broken light fixtures, moving was incredibly stressful. However, we learned from these misfortunes.
We learned how to set better expectations and deadlines for ourselves, how to best leverage our network for help, the importance of remaining calm under pressure, and ultimately how to focus on execution. In the end, the frustrating moving process wasn’t a mistake—it was a learning opportunity.
During these five years, the company has also developed a wealth of strong client relationships. By maintaining close ties with clients, our work becomes even more rewarding. Read more about how the human element is instrumental to business growth here. I’m so grateful for all of the close relationships that we’ve built throughout the past years. Check out our testimonials page to learn more about the amazing people and companies that support us.
2) Friends and family
In addition to valuing business relationships, I place a huge emphasis on spending time with friends and family. I see my parents each and every week, and I travel to visit friends in different cities as often as possible. Remaining close and connected to each relative and friend is a tall order.
Relationships require constant upkeep. With stress, work, and everyday obligations, it can be so easy to let some friendships slip away. However, the benefits you gain from maintaining close family ties and friendships are immeasurable. These relationships are key to a healthy work-life balance. Though friends and family have always been a priority for me, making them my second principle for happiness is a constant reminder of their importance.
3) Do more, experience more
When I reflect on my past, many decisions I made are easily simplified into two categories: doing and not doing. Not doing something always seemed like the easier choice. This choice to do something versus not doing something applies to anything.
It always feels more convenient to stay in rather than go out to dinner with friends, or to sleep in versus playing tennis on a Saturday morning. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in or staying home to watch a movie on the weekend once in a while. But if you never choose to do something, you’ll wake up one day and realize that you’re stuck.
This feeling happened to me in early 2014. My friends were getting older and starting families of their own. I traveled less and less; one day, I realized that I hadn’t been outside of the United States in six years. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do—yet I’d been choosing not to do it for years because it seemed like the easier option.
I felt remorse, but not for long. Because traveling is something that brings me so much joy, I quickly acted on this feeling of regret and planned trips. In the past two years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, and Dubai. I’ve seen beauty, learned new things, and met amazing people. Because I realized that I’d fallen into a habit of not experiencing the things that brought me happiness, I acted to change that. Now, I make an effort to consciously act on things that I want to fix in my life.
The choice to do more also applies to business. Our core values include taking initiative, being proactive, and taking risks. With these values, the company culture encourages people to do more, which in turn fosters growth and learning. Our young team is knowledgeable beyond their years due in part to this active approach.
4) Help others
Last but certainly not least, I try to help others whenever possible. Recently I was able to join the board of StreetWise. StreetWise is a Chicago-based organization that helps individuals without a steady job achieve gainful employment by first selling the StreetWise newspaper and then going through the employment transition program.
I’m thrilled to be a part of the organization for many reasons, but one of the things I find most fulfilling is helping people find careers. That’s one of the things I love about running my business, and StreetWise allows me to do this on a larger scale.
Helping others goes beyond being involved in nonprofits. Everyone needs a helping hand. It’s common for people to hold back before helping someone out. Self-interest often takes precedence, but the reality is that the feeling one gets from helping someone is so much more worthwhile.
Again, helping others is extremely relevant to the business world. Leveraging teamwork is a huge part of our core values. Helping others is inherent to successful teamwork. From training new hires to client service, teamwork is a foundation of our organization’s success.
It’s been almost two years since I began speaking about these four principles to happiness. I love the conversations I have with people about happiness. While I’m always open to updating the principles, I tend to find that they are the four things that matter most for me.
Finding happiness is an endless journey, but after discovering four things to focus on, I feel like I’ve achieved it. By determining what makes you happy, spending the time to foster these principles will improve your relationships, your work, and your day-to-day life.
What are your key principles for happiness? What brings you the most joy and fulfillment? Tweet us @Perfect_Search or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear from you.