I heard today on CNN that, according to Twitter, people who live in Hawaii are the happiest of all Americans -- they are followed by people who live in Colorado and then in Minnesota.
The Minnesota folks I can attest to -- when I last occupied a corporate office, I would often travel to Minneapolis and can tell you that they are so nice there it's actually kind of weird ...
The reasons could be all that snow in the winter; or the fact that they are all cooped up inside very close with one another and have to be happy or they would go squirrely; or the fact that Minnesota is home to the The World Famous Spam Museum -- maybe just maybe, lots of Spam makes one happy.
Oh, did I mention that I used to manage the PR in Ontario for Minnesota Tourism!
But, I digress, because what this little factoid I heard today reminded me of was a question that I get a lot from those looking to decamp to the other side of the fence -- leave the corporate shindig behind once and for all so to speak ...
But aren't you happier -- won't I be happier -- isn't this the road to happiness?
Well the answer is yes and no.
Yes, you will leave behind the 9-5 and the mug emblazoned with a snappy corporate logo on it, the Monday morning Walking Dead water cooler catch-ups, your work wife or husband and the girls that you lunch with but you will also:
Gain some weight as you will be very close to your kitchen all day in the beginning and the donuts on the counter will call out your name as you toil away in world headquarters.
Get a sense of self as you will be alone for long periods of time as you build your business -- you'd better like your company as you will get a lot of it at first!
Develop a routine that allows you to take advantage of the flex time that you have -- it's amazing how long it takes one to break free completely of the "I must pretend to work for eight hours straight" mindset.
Focus on getting back into shape (remember those donuts calling!!!) -- physically and emotionally -- I know that I was a tad brain-dead when I finally made the leap into the consulting world.
Become well-acquainted with the many amazing coffee shops across the city -- consultants love to meet in them (gets us out of world headquarters just for a bit) I've discovered some wonderful out of the way neighbourhood places.
Take on some of the most amazing clients -- clients who don't need the comfort zone of a big firm and many overheads and actually like the idea of working with subject matter experts and that's it -- no big brand comfort zone for them.
Get acquainted with the Sony Vaio help desk and the Wix website builder help desk and how to pay your HST on time -- you get the picture.
And I could go on and on, but I won't because the question the table is about being happier and that's an interesting question
Having already made the leap once from the agency world into my own business, albeit with a partner and at the tender age of 32, I knew what I was in for this second time around, but I am always amazed at how naive some people are when they start to talk to me about starting their own business or becoming a free agent and they want some advice on how to make the leap.
Well my advice is ... don't do it.
Don't do it unless you can stomach the following:
A constant level of stress around making your "monthly nut" -- that is your monthly living expenses -- and please tell me that you have sat down and figured that out already.
The knowledge that you and only you are responsible for setting the world on fire -- no team, no us, only you.
The ability to repeat, "the Universe will send me what I need" over and over again and believe in it.
Self motivation and discipline -- you will need it on those days when no one calls you back and you have no next month billings to speak of and you still need to get down to it and keep at it
A sense of imagination -- the ability to blue sky, be happy in the moment and to know that the freedom you have is way better than the security that you left.
A band of cheerleaders that you can call when it gets just a little too much -- kind of a freelance water cooler group of your very own -- I recommend The Riverdale Perk as a gathering place --it's a great spot to grab an Americano, home-baked goodie and let fly with your homies.
Because, at the end of the day, my take is that "happy" is a day-to-day state of mind and that you have to work at it just like you work at your business.
If you are the type that likes order and predictability, routine and an IT guy at your beck and call (oh Lord that was the hardest thing to give up along with my EA Jocelyn -- I still miss my Jocelyn!!!) then this life is probably not for you.
If self-starter is not tattooed on your forehead then this is probably not for you.
If you are not comfortable with asking ourself "what's the worst thing that could happen if I do this" and then doubly uncomfortable with the answer being "I could fail" then this is probably not for you.
But, if you thrive in situations that require a steep learning curve, have the need for constant change and growth, hate routine and the thought of doing the same thing day after day, then this life might be for you.
And, if the thought of setting the world on fire makes you happy, then this life is definitely for you!