How you make your money is far more important than making money or how much money you make. For this reason, I do not consider people who make a lot of money to be successful if they do not love how they make the money. In other words, the payoff means shit if you don’t love the process of what you’re doing. How could you consider someone to be successful if they’re miserable and unhappy?
So, if you do not love the process of whatever it is you’re doing in life, you’re already setting yourself up to be unhappy. This is why you really need to understand your WHY. WHY are you doing whatever it is you’re doing?
If you’re making that choice based on the potential reward or payoff of doing that thing, versus the experience that you will gain from doing that thing, then you’re setting yourself up for disaster. It’s like people who choose career paths solely because of the salary or paycheque. They’re leaving their happiness in the hands of a payoff or reward they experience on a bi-weekly basis (paycheque), that is only going to make them feel good for two minutes before it fades away like every other external reward.
When you live your life based on rewards and payoffs but hate the process, or are bored by the process, then you’re actively setting up self-limiting beliefs within yourself that say: I only deserve to be happy part of the time. Or: It’s normal for people to only be happy part of the time.
The thing is, money comes and it goes. But happiness, when cultivated correctly, stays. That’s because it becomes indestructible by outside forces because it’s created by the power within.
When I first started writing, while I loved the process, I often overlooked the process to potential payoffs or rewards down the road that I could obtain through the process of whatever it is I was doing. You know, that disillusioned idea of “making it” or becoming a “known person” or building up a big following and getting a lot of attention for the stuff I was doing. ‘
I started working on new projects and built up this idea in my head that it could lead to a big breakthrough and I would finally put my name on the map and make something of myself. After enough disappointments, enough feelings of being unhappy because of placing my value on the unreliable external rewards, I decided it was time to reprioritize what I considered to be successful.
For me now, it’s been reprioritizing the craft. Craft is everything. It’s been getting back to the joy of the process of creating. Who gives a fuck about finding a breakthrough or achieving attention and recognition for the things you create—but rather, engaging with work and projects that make you feel good and inspired while you’re doing them.
Success is now about feeling good about your own growth and evolution as an artist. If I feel I’m continuing to grow and improve every time, then I’m being successful and achieving my goals. Whatever comes from it, that’s out of my control.
Coincidentally, when you strip your focus down to the process and the joy of the process, the work you create actually is more likely to resonate with an audience in a deeper way than if you prioritized “what perks this work could bring to you”. You actually become more successful by not trying to be successful at all.
In artistic work, an audience can tell when we are telling the truth. When you really tell the truth and the work is created from a place of sheer pain or joy, the audience can tell, and they’re more likely to listen when they know you aren’t bullshitting them.
The real kicker here is to measure success on improvement and the process of creation. You’re investing your energy into the appropriate, authentic spaces. By doing so, you achieve happiness simply by doing the thing, with complete disregard for the payoff of doing the thing.
So whatever external success you may or may not achieve from doing the thing, it actually doesn’t even really matter. And if success does find you, it appropriately becomes simply a pleasure or a bonus for the amazing experience you just had.
True happiness is all about the process of doing things, not the result of having done them. Just as it’s not about the destination, but rather the quality of our journey that determines our happiness.
So find experiences in life and invest your time into things that bring you joy from simply doing them. When we look past the process and infatuate ourselves with results, we’re mistaking happiness with the seduction of a momentary pleasure. Never forget the difference.
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