How To Know What Will (Really) Make You Happy

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Things That Make Me Happy

Who doesn’t love a Beyoncé track? My favorite song of hers is “Best Thing I Never Had.” The song’s about dodging a bullet, which in her case was a man but in my case is a life of tradition—a 9-to-5 career and the perceived safety of a desk job.

What if the thing you think you should want—marriage, a promotion, home ownership, a baby—is not what will truly make you happy? And say you decide not to have it, despite what other people think. Could that “it” be the best thing you never have?

Here are three of the strongest examples I’ve witnessed:

1. Planting Roots Versus Adventure

A year or so ago, a friend of mine was heartbroken when her purchase of a flat in London fell through. She’d imagined the décor down to the last detail. She’d already bought the kitchen island. Then the bank pulled out of the mortgage arrangement, and another buyer swooped it up. Three weeks later her husband was laid off. They spent the next four months traveling South America and are now planning their next extended trip to Asia using the money they would’ve invested in the home. She walked past that flat the other day and sent me a text saying, “I can’t believe I almost had that [insert dreary/rainy photo of a building] instead of Bali beaches.” I have to admit – this inspired my recent 1 month adventure to Bali that my husband and I just booked!

2. Commitment Versus Freedom

“Why can’t I just be satisfied with things as they are now?” exclaimed a client of mine over lunch when she was talking about getting engaged. Katie contacted me as a life coach to help scale her business, but her dissatisfaction in her personal life was making her palpably confused and upset.

I asked what was really bothering her. She explained she felt pressured to marry her long-term boyfriend when, the truth was, marriage was not something she valued. Katie’s parents were religious and wanted her to have a traditional wedding—and soon—but she decided against it. She and her boyfriend are still together (and happy) now but on their own terms. And Katie says, “Everything feels right about it.”

3. Misery Versus Uncertainty

Most people come to me for guidance in starting a Side Hustle. Sadly, many would choose misery (or even a job they don’t love) over uncertainty (launching a passion project for profit). A good chunk of people I coach are too afraid to leave the comfort, security, and significance of a day job to pursue what truly lights them up. Ironically, an entrepreneurial side hustle can bring you all those things and more! What are you really risking by not pursuing what you love? Even the time it takes to build something is not an excuse. No matter what you do, life passes anyway.

What do you want most? Let me let you in on a secret: You can dream it and live it, without input from anyone else. Only you know what’s right for your life.

If something’s not working for you—a job, a relationship, an investment, a friendship, a belief that doesn’t serve you—rethink it and decide if you can find the “good in goodbye”?

This story originally appeared on Greatist.com.

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