Success cannot be measured

Love your career more than the numbers on your paycheck


Courtesy of Marco Verch Professional Photographer Flickr – According to Penn Today, “day-to-day happiness rose as annual income increased, but above $75,000 it leveled off and happiness plateaued.”

Aubrie Selsmeyer, Opinion Editor

I believe that loving what you do for the rest of your life far outweighs the number on your paycheck at the end of the year. 

Success has become something we measure in status and wealth. But will you be truly happy leaving your office cubicle at the end of a 9-5 day? 

In high school, my classmates and I had to use a website called Career Cruising to explore career fields that might be sufficient for us. 

We had to take a survey where it asked us a bunch of questions about our personality and how we would go about handling certain situations, and then it assigned us potential fields we should pursue. 

One thing that the website made very prominent was the average salary of someone in that field. 

So, now you have some jobs looking far better than other jobs because of the amount of zeros tagged on in front of the decimal place. 

This is where the misconception began for me. 

I knew what I wanted to do,  yet still became convinced that I would not make enough money to support myself before I even entered my first semester of college. 

A study conducted at Princeton University revealed that happiness plateaus at a certain level of income, and it’s not accurate to say that the more money a person has, the happier they become. 

According to Penn Today, “foundational work published in 2010 from Princeton University’s Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton had found that day-to-day happiness rose as annual income increased, but above $75,000 it leveled off and happiness plateaued.”

Matthew Killingsworth, senior fellow in Wharton People Analytics in the Wharton School and an associate in MindCORE in the School of Arts & Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, said that money is merely a factor of happiness — not the secret to it. 

“For emotional well-being, money isn’t the be all end all,” Killingsworth said. “Money is just one of the many determinants of happiness.”

Chasing money is thought to be detrimental to success, but striving for status is equally harmful. 

Why is it that some fields of study are frowned upon while others are placed high on a throne?

It is because of this unspoken judgment that status emerges. It places people above each other on a metaphorical ladder of success. 

If everyone has a place and purpose in life, no one should be able to say that one purpose holds more importance than the other. 

From a young age, schools have always placed emphasis on correct answers, ultimately eliminating creativity and ways of thinking that challenge the common belief. 

No two people learn the same way nor want the same thing. The world would be a boring place if everyone thought and did the same thing — yet this is what is encouraged. 

Teaching needs to be cultivated to the student, not the other way around. Kids should be encouraged from a young age to pursue what they love, not told what career will make them the most money. 

Anthony D. Fredericks with Psychology Today strongly opposes the way young people learn in classrooms from K-12, saying it programs them to believe that every problem has only one solution. 

“Much of our educational experiences have been focused on learning the right answers to pre-established questions,” Fredericks said. “Seldom have we been offered the opportunity to consider that there might be a multitude of potential responses to any problem.”

Just as we are raised to answer “pre-established” questions, we are taught that the key to success and happiness is pre-established. 

“Logic supports the notion that an excessive focus on a one-right-answer mentality forces us into a ‘don’t take any risks’ mindset,” said Fredericks. 

Refusing to take risks leads to settling — settling on being comfortable, rather than being a little uncomfortable and doing what you love even if it means that the outcome is unknown. 

Some people are content crunching numbers at a desk for the rest of their life —  this doesn’t mean you have to be.

No amount of money should be placed over your own happiness. Nor will your happiness increase exponentially if your salary does. One’s wage and happiness are independent factors, not reliant on the other to be present. 

If you feel like you’re following a different path than your peers because you’re following what you love, you’re doing something right.