Success Vs. Happiness: Which is Best for Entrepreneurs?

entrepeneur happiness mental health success wellbeing Mar 29, 2021

Entrepreneurs and high achievers have a long and storied history of doing things differently than average working folk. 

Their success-driven need to succeed, be recognized and do things their own way on their own terms puts them at risk for burnout and other mental health issues like anxiety, depression, substance abuse, loneliness and ADHD and bipolar disorder. 

The hustle, grit, and grind most people experience on their journey to success, can be overwhelming; The rewards can include wealth,  status, and a privileged life. 

Entrepreneurs are often inspired by their passion to make a difference in the world, attracted to the time, location, and financial freedom the long hours and personal sacrifice can create for them.

But in their pursuit excellence and freedom, nearly 2/3 will end up with a mental health problem - and roughly half will not seek the help they need because of the shame and stigma associated with mental illness.

How do I know? I am one of those driven people who, after a successful professional career as a journalist, marketer, and author, built 12 businesses. Scorecard:  4 were dismal failures and 3 were very successful. 

What's also really important to note is that I burned out twice and nearly died in my pursuit of greatness!

From a very early age, my parents expected a lot from their children, expected them to work hard, get into good schools and make it in their career. But, mostly, we were taught that material externals like money, things, and status would buy me a front row and lots of time for happiness, wellness, and wellbeing (though they came second to the shiny objects and glitter that I pursued along the way).

In my case, my parents were wrong. I craved and was driven to entrepreneurial success - partly because I refused to give up despite the uncertainty, stress, and anxiety that I experienced almost daily.  But, by my mid-40's, I found myself pretty darn miserable and struggling with loneliness, anxiety, and burnout, found myself divorced and addicted to alcohol and depression/anxiety meds. Divorce, a nervous breakdown and other problems were quick to follow.

Where was this "dream life" I was promised? What about my happiness and wellbeing that I thought was my God-given right as a human being?  They were non-existent.  I was embarrassed to get help and even when I did, never told the numerous therapists and psychiatrists who treated me the full extent of my problems. 

All I really wanted was to be happy and live with wellness and wellbeing. It took me the next 10 years to figure out how to achieve this, and it didn't come naturally -- I had to relearn how to live my life to create more balance, happiness, and wellbeing. 

I believe that you can achieve great things in life and also be happy. But you have to understand your intentions, be totally honest and transparent with in all your affairs, stay balanced in all aspects of your life, focus on your self-care and stress management, then success will follow.

It may not include your original idea of external success like fame and fortune; it could very well lead to combining your outer success goals with internal pursuits like finding meaning and living with purpose. 

If you want happiness that is conditional only on  achieving material successes of the big house, cars, vacations, and privilege, you might find yourself disappointed.  But, if happiness and wellbeing is important to you, you might have to learn how to be happy first and create wellbeing.  Then success will always be yours for the creating.




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