“Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” This phrase is so famous that it’s often overlooked and rarely internalized. On this 4th of July, I thought about the meaning it has in today’s society, and how it should shape the way many of us go about our daily lives.
When you break it down, it’s really very simple. What makes you happy? Take that and pursue it…it’s not only your right to do so, it’s your obligation. Entrepreneurs are not 9-5′ers; they know from an early age that in order to be fully satisfied, they need to work towards something that they believe in…something that makes them happy. They exude passion and fight to make that their life’s mission. They consider this way more meaningful than a stable job that lacks these characteristics. Notice how I never use the words salary, time-off, paid vacation, benefits, etc. Yeah, we may be a bit crazy and idealistic, but guess what, so were the Founders of this Nation.
Listen, you’ve heard this all before, so I won’t drag it on. But I do want you to take it seriously this time (if you haven’t before). It’s time we did what we loved, what we are passionate about, what we are good at. It’s only at this point that we can really claim our individual freedom and dicate our own lives. I’m a bit of an Objectivist as I believe when you do what you love, the world will be better off. If you’ve left a meaningless job to pursue a more meaningful one, I applaud you, but do take it one step further and encourage others to do the same.
Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
As anyone will tell you, pursuing happiness is not easy. The vast majority will disapprove. They will not understand. Many will doubt, some may even ridicule. Pay them no attention and take solace in the fact that it’s one less to compete with (more happiness for you!). This path allows you to quickly see just how worthwhile the pursuit really is. In other words, if you lack the passion, it’ll show. Want to make a ton of money, get driven (or flown!) to and from meetings, and enjoy expensive vacations? My advice to you is don’t become an entrepreneur. There are more effective ways of gaining wealth than through entrepreneurship. Try investment banking if that’s what you are looking for. However, if you are seeking something even greater, and perhaps more impactful on society…then I would consider following the advice outlined above and pursue your individual happiness.
As you return to work from your holiday retreat, I ask you to remember what it was that you were celebrating this weekend. Don’t be afraid to stand up out of your seat and look around at your workplace. Glance over at the door you walked through this morning (now back to the office), and once again look over at that exit. What are you waiting for?