Thursday, October 15, 2015

Happiness: Hard Work & A Little Luck

I’ve been thinking a lot about happiness. And how to write about this without sounding too preachy. But have you ever had someone tell you that you were lucky, and they were not, and so you don’t understand? It aggravates me to no end, especially because this comes up whenever career and professional life come up.

And I totally acknowledge that I’ve been lucky in life.

I’m blessed to have a family and boyfriend that support everything I do. I’m blessed to have all the material things that I do. Blessed to have been able to receive higher education, and blessed to have been able to pay off the debt incurred while doing so.

But happiness past those things is a personal responsibility. Only I can see to my own happiness. It’s hard to get to being happy with yourself if you don’t know what your happiness depends on, and further, having a clear vision of how to get there. My happiness revolves around three things: my career, my family, and my boyfriend. Two of those things are constants (and they are for most people, if you’re also as lucky), so the only thing that can really throw me in a loop is if I’m unhappy with where my career is headed.

There are 3 things that I keep in mind and care for when it comes to my career success.

Short and long term visions for where I want to be. Short being in the 2 years, and long term in the next 5 years. The moment that I decided I wanted something, I plan for it. Part of this involves research and talking to people that I look up to - whether that’s someone I know, or some stranger’s career history on LinkedIn that works in the position I want to be in, or at the company I want to work for. It’s hard to find yourself in a place of happiness or success if you don’t know what you want, or how to get there.

Discipline/Hard Work
By discipline, I mean going after what you want every single day, despite wanting to give up. It’s hard to keep this up, especially if you’ve had failures and rejections. When I was in my last semester of college, I would get job rejections and feel so discouraged. And I’d mope for a day, in the hours between classes and meetings, in my dark basement apartment room. But I’d pick myself up the day after, or in the evenings late at night and just keep applying to more jobs. I’d pluck up the courage to email recruiters that had rejected me asking for feedback on my interview. I’d wake up every day, a new day and keep pressing on until I got what I wanted.

Nowadays, discipline is waking up for work every day, staying focused on the week’s goals, and making sure they’re executed. And it’s hard every day, especially at a start up. Micromanagement, changes in direction, too many things to do - not enough knowledge to do them, having to teach yourself the skills to do what is expected of you. On more than one occasion this past month, I’ve cried at my desk once everyone had left or cried in front of my boss. By far, this has been the most stressful job I’ve ever worked, but also the most rewarding.

I recently came across this quote - which resonated with me.
“To think bad thoughts is really the easiest thing in the world. If you leave your mind to itself it will spiral down into ever increasing unhappiness. To think good thoughts, however, requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline and training is all about.” - James Clavell

A Little Luck
When luck strikes and an opportunity arises, but you didn’t put the time and effort into honing the skills and knowledge needed to really seize that opportunity - then it’s a waste. Luck only crosses a person a handful of times in their life.

It’s because of this I think so many people (myself included) hate hearing that they only have what they have or are where they are because of luck. But I’d be an idiot if I didn’t acknowledge or appreciate the fact that I have really been lucky in my career.

This isn't the typical type of post from me, but what do you think? Luck vs Hard Work. Do you make your own luck? Or do you wait for luck to strike with a golden opportunity?


  1. Well firstly I would never say to someone that they didn't understand, because you never know someone else's whole story! As for luck vs hard work, I think it's a mixture of both. Obviously hard work is what will take you far but I'm lucky for a lot of things which might have changed what I would've been able to achieve, like parental support and home situation,or even my totally random combination of DNA which has meant that I'm a relatively healthy person. I'm also lucky that I got unlucky a couple of times, because that's how I've been lead to this point in my life so far haha. I guess it depends on what you count as luck!

  2. I've had something similar happen to me, though the discussion is typically couched in terms of "privilege" more than luck with my peers. I definitely get hopping mad when people treat me in a way that suggests they think that things come easily for me. I come from a fairly wealthy town with a lot of very wealthy Asian-American families, and that tends to be the demographic of Asian-American that enters my profession, so stereotypes and assumptions about my level of privilege are common. (My graduate school and similar programs tend to attract a fairly well to do crowd generally.)

    Oh and I've totally cried in front of my boss and peers (during our somewhat low-stakes summer internship to boot), so I've had that experience too. It was definitely not ideal, yikes! I'd like to think I do a good job of picking myself up and learning from any setbacks, though.