If You’re Not Happy, You’re Not Successful—So Enjoy the Journey!

UPDATED: May 24, 2024
PUBLISHED: March 23, 2016

Here’s something to consider. Let’s say your goal is to become a vice president of a big company. After many years of intense stress, worry and an avalanche of emotional, mental and physical overload, you finally achieve your goal, along with all the wealth and prestige that comes with it. Is this success?  

If you consult a dictionary, the answer would be yes. Webster’s Dictionary defines success like this: 1. The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors. 2. The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like. I think it’s amazing that the words “happy” or “happiness” or “joy” are not included in the definition of the word “success.” 

Unfortunately, our conventional definition of success is simply achieving the goal. Not enough emphasis is placed on the value of experiencing and enjoying the journey, building character and learning life lessons along the way.

Related: 4 Questions I Asked Myself to Define Success

Here is a hypothetical question. What if someone were to show you a video of yourself as you climbed the ladder to great success? In this video, you see yourself achieving all of your goals and obtaining wealth. During this entire process, however, you also witness how you subjected your body, mind and spirit to intense negative energy along the way. 

Not only were you unhappy most of the time, but you were able to see how your outright refusal to allow for joy during the process affected your family, friends, associates and your overall well-being. Talk about a downer of a movie.

I’ll ask you the question again. Is this success? Here’s the answer: No!

I really want you to get this…. If the process of fulfilling your goal is polluted with negative energy and lack of enjoyment, it can only create more unhappiness, even if the outcome is positive in the short term. The happiness that you feel in the moment of reaching “success” is a temporary state dictated by its conventional definition. After the initial euphoria wears off, you are back in the same old negative place, because you’ve carried that same old negative mindset with you.

The truth is, it really doesn’t matter how much money you have, or how famous you are, or how many goals you’ve achieved. It makes no difference how big your house is or what industry accolades you’ve racked up in your career. The entire world can view your life as the ultimate success story, but the bottom line is this: If you are not happy, you are not successful! If you are not enjoying yourself on your journey toward your goal, you’re ripping yourself off. Trust me. There are enough people willing to do that for you. 

The adventure toward any goal is what brings value to it. The path toward the goal is where your life unfolds and happiness is truly meaningful. When you are in the process of working to achieve something, you are experiencing who you are and what you’re made of. Your character is being tested and molded. 

When you become aware of the importance of every step in the process, you are sending a message to yourself, as well as the entire universe, that you are not only here, but qualified and ready to overcome obstacles along the way. All of which are essential ingredients for success and happiness.

There is absolutely no reason why you can’t make a conscious choice to experience and enjoy yourself on the journey toward the goal. If you do, you will no doubt have a profound appreciation of how you earned it. In my view, that’s the ultimate success. If you make this “common-sense success strategy” a habit, it will transform your life.

Related: Stop Waiting to Be Happy

Steve Rizzo is the Attitude Adjuster. You can’t attend one of his keynote speeches and leave with the same attitude. He’s a personal development expert, comedian, motivational speaker, and best-selling author. It’s no surprise that he’s been inducted into the Speakers Hall of Fame, an honor bestowed upon on fewer than 250 speakers worldwide since 1977. You can find out more at www.steverizzo.com.