Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Does success equal happiness?

I get a lot of emails. I guess we all do, but because of the contacts I have in the business world I get plenty of emails from business coaches etc talking about success. I got one five minutes ago from one such person who was offering me a special deal on a seminar which would unlock my potential and guide me onto the road to success.

I found myself saying out loud, "But I don't want success. I just want to be happy."

All through my corporate life I kicked and fought my way up the ladder. I started my own business in 2001 with the aim of being successful and earning more than I did in the corporate world. That hasn't happened. I've come near to breakdown twice owing to demanding clients and their deadlines; I can only work seven days straight for so many weeks in a row before I start feeling like self-harming.

So now I work part-time. My business is anything BUT a success. And you know what, I don't care. I make just enough to scrape by, my house is paid for and my husband is on a half-decent but not mind-blowing salary.

I don't want success; success means going back to full time work, to dealing with more people than I care to deal with.

Happiness is more important. Having the time to bake bread which is an 18 hour job including overnight rising. Having the time to tend the garden in the middle of the day. Being able to do the clothes washing midweek. Being with my animals. Working on the house. In summer, being able to nick down to the local river baths for an hour or two if I want to.

I think I'm achieving happiness. And that's more important, for me, than success.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The happiness sucker; or, why perfectionists are a pain in the arse.

What's your view on perfectionists? Not your average perfectionists who simply want everything they do to be the best, but the kind of perfectionists who tries to suck the happiness out of your own activities by putting you down because you're not bloody perfect?

Today I went Dragon Boat Racing for the first time at a local festival. It was an amateur event for corporate teams, school teams, sports club teams but no professional dragon boat teams were allowed. For half of our team it was the first time we'd tried it. Our only practice was paddling the boat to the starting line.

I got very wet and I had a ball. The first race we went in we came second and we were overjoyed. Last year our team had one second and 2 last places. We were fortunate in having a great 'sweep' at the back of the boat who coached us mercilessly.

In the second race we also came second at a much faster time; as a team we felt much more together. We were all gee'd up for the third heat, and it was neck and neck. A photo finish. We came second but we were exhilarated. We were paddling in unison, we were flying on the water and we were a tightly-knit team of people who'd suddenly grasped a sporting concept. We had qualified for the minor final on the day but many of our team had other commitments and couldn't stay, so we satisfied ourselves with a team best. You'd be hard pressed to meet a happier, more satisfied bunch of people after that third heat.

After the first race my 'friend' Whingy arrived and proceeded to pick on everything and everyone. Wasn't I going to take my bracelet off to paddle? (No.) Was I really paddling wearing THAT? (That being technical merino leggings, top and knickers, chosen because they dry quickly in the sun, and I told her so).

According to Whingy our team was hopeless in the second race. And the third. I in particular was rubbish apparently. G was watching from the shore with Whingy and she kept up a running commentary on how awful all the teams were, putting everyone down and being generally degrading. G couldn't believe how nasty she was being; maybe she was jealous because everyone was having fun and not taking it too seriously.

Whingy you see, is a serious dragon boater. She is with a dragon boating association, practices in a team twice a week, paddles in regattas with other teams who practice regularly and therefore judges our amateur efforts unfavourably against her own (naturally perfect) ones.  Like everything else Whingy turns her hand to she has to be perfect at it - and she has no time for people who aren't perfect at it too. She is unbearably smug.

She was doing her best to suck the happiness out of my day. So what if my team was a bunch of mugs having a go? The main thing is this bunch of mugs had a go and loved it. I suspect that perfection comes at a price and if she judges her performance to be less than perfect she doesn't enjoy it at all. For me it was about being out on the water on a stunningly sunny spring day. And that was perfect.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Cinderella does NOT want to go to the ball

Tonight I have to attend a Local Business Awards night on behalf of one of my clients. For most people, the opportunity to party is one they look forward to.

I'm dreading it.

It's a sociophobe's nightmare. 450 people in a room. I know the people I'll be sitting with at my table but oh, the hell of having to network beforehand with complete bloody strangers. Finding something intelligent to say in a room that will be echoing loudly with 449 people doing the same. I can't saunter in late either as there won't be any parking spaces left.

So I'll be stuck from 7 till at least 11 in this bloody function, wishing I was at home with a glass of wine, 2 cats, a dog and a husband. Because I'll be driving to the function I can't have more than 2 glasses of wine so even good old Dutch Courage is out.

To make matters worse I have to do the same thing next week on behalf of someone else. They offered me their ticket as an honour, knowing I was too broke to buy a ticket of my own and thinking I'd love the opportunity to attend. The real truth - I wanted to avoid the event at all costs and not being terribly financial was a great excuse. Now I'm Sucked In Cinderella, with two socially terrifying events in two weeks.

As a result of tonight I've been depressed all day. I can't concentrate on work this afternoon so I've been playing jigsaws online. I've eaten chocolate for the first time in weeks. I had a screaming fit earlier in the day after a phone call with another client, one who always puts my back up because he calls hands free from his car and shouts down the phone. Also he has a thick accent and I can't always understand him. To cap it all I'm waiting for a box of brochures to take to tonight's event on behalf of my client and the courier still hasn't arrived. I've been waiting since 7am and have phoned them. I have to deliver the box to the venue by 5, then come home and get changed and rush back again.

I can't make excuses and get out of going tonight as my client will be going herself and she's just undergone a medical procedure and will be dragging herself there, the walking wounded. Just because I'm a sociophobe doesn't let me out of it.

Hate hate hate my job and the ensuing social events. Dammit, universe, please let me win the lottery so I can retire!