57.8 F

Davis, California

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Redefine success

How bringing new meaning to the traditional definition of success can make you happier


By EMILIE BROWN — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu


As college students, we’re constantly bombarded with expectations, career prospects and looming questions of “What’s your plan after college?” and “What will you do with your life?”

Some of us will share exciting opportunities, promisingly high wages and fancy titles, while others will be actually excited to be working in their chosen field. But what is the end goal? Traditional success, enjoyment or both? 

I would argue that the most important thing, indeed the only thing students should be worried about, is whether they enjoy their work and their field. 

Too often, I hear my classmates and friends complaining about how much they dislike their major and class topics only to justify their suffering by stating that they “will make a lot of money after college.” We seem to be caught up in chasing traditional notions of success — dreams of being filthy rich, driving fancy cars and owning million-dollar houses. But in our pursuit of wealth, we often neglect to evaluate whether we actually enjoy the fields we’ve chosen or whether we can even build a fulfilling career if it’s in a field we don’t enjoy.

Success should be defined by what truly makes you happy. It’s challenging to embrace in a world where TV shows and societal role models equate success with wealth. Social media further exacerbates this pressure, pushing us to measure our worth based on material possessions and perceived lifestyles.

We’ve all heard the old saying “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” And it’s not wrong. Studies have shown that as we become happier by redefining personal success, we perform better at our jobs. When we find joy and fulfillment in our work, our productivity soars, our creativity flourishes and we become more valuable assets to ourselves and our communities. In other words, if we chase what makes us happy, traditionally defined success will follow.

So here is my challenge to you. Over our summer break, take time to reflect on your studies and ensure that they are bringing you joy.

I know in many situations, it may seem difficult to choose between wealth and happiness. You’ll have to step away from what your peers, family and friends may think is the right decision for you. But remember, it’s your life, and you should be enjoying your work.

In the end, it’s not the size of your bank account or the number of possessions you accumulate that will bring you true success, it’s the satisfaction of living a life aligned with your authentic self. So, dare to be happy, dare to redefine success and remember that the measure of your worth goes far beyond what can be measured in dollars and cents.


Written by: Emilie Brown — emrbrown@ucdavis.edu

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by individual columnists belong to the columnists alone and do not necessarily indicate the views and opinions held by The California Aggie.