Written by Carissa Abazia

Here’s something about me that many would not guess: I didn’t intend to go into the real estate industry, let alone follow in my father’s footsteps. I grew up dreaming of fashion design. I was obsessed with the playful embrace of color and pattern. At the age of sixteen, fashion was life and life was fashion.

I didn’t know my destiny would be to help people make their dreams come true. I didn’t know I would educate people about the benefits of owning real estate.

When I graduated high school, fate would have it that a reputable fashion design school in New York City accepted my application. It was a twist of luck moment, really. But I didn’t go. I went on to attend a university, and majored in communications and global studies because I didn’t know what I was supposed to do with my life.

Post college, a series of random events led me to a public relations role in the wine industry. At the time, I had found my calling—or so I thought.

Seven years later, the passion for my job diminished, but not because I didn’t love wine and the process of making wine. I simply realized that sitting behind a computer from 8 am to 5 pm just wasn’t my path. I eventually made a major shift, and left the wine industry for a job in healthcare.

But medical device sales didn’t make me happy. I was frustrated and disappointed, and I thought I was failing. Maybe it wasn’t in my telos—or maybe it just wasn’t my path. I had no particular passion or interest in the subject, and I wasn’t innately obsessed with it, nor did I have any specific training. It wasn’t too long after that I elected to take a hiatus and I quick my job without another one lined up—a first for me.

After two months of contemplating the next phase of my life, curiosity was the seed that changed all that—and my life.

For as long as I can remember, it’s been success first.

Once we’ve left education and entered the world of work, we’re told time and again that if we focus and keep on competing and climbing the ladder of our chosen profession, then we will be a success. The reward for that success will be the job, the home, the car and the partner of our dreams and the assumption is that ultimately we will be happy.

The path of success leading to happiness is engrained into us from an early age. With the increasing cost of higher education, spiraling student debt, competition for work and escalating house prices, we’ve created a pressured society that demands success.

But do we have the sequence the wrong way round? Are we happy? Have we ever seriously considered this question? Has our drive to put success first made us happy? Are we chasing our own tail of success in the search for happiness? Is it time we changed our approach?

Then it hit me like a hard smack to the face—whack! First, happiness precedes success. Second, persistence is a choice we make.

The secret ingredients to success: happiness and persistence.

If we look throughout the world in every industry, in every culture, there’s one consistent trend among successful individuals, and that trend is the ability to persevere. It’s the act of failing but standing up again and taking a step forward albeit experiencing failure and defeat.

But this is not always natural; it’s a learned trait. This means that persistence is most often a choice. It’s a matter of believing in oneself and finding a way to reach the end result when the first several attempts at finding success had failed.

Take Abraham Lincoln, for example. He failed in business at the age of 21. He was defeated in a legislative race at age 22, failed again at business at age 24, overcame the death of his lover at age 26, had a nervous breakdown at age 27, lost a congressional race at 34 and 36, lost a senatorial race at 45, failed to become vice president at 47, lost a senatorial race at 49, and then finally was elected president of the United States of America at age 52.

Imagine what our country might look like today if he hadn’t persisted through those previous failures.

There’s the famous story about Thomas Edison trying 9,999 times to perfect the light bulb — and he couldn’t do it. Someone said, “Are you going to have 10,000 failures?” And he responded, “I didn’t fail; I just discovered another way not to invent the electric light bulb.”

He chose how he perceived his previous experiences — and decided not to perceive them as failures.

So, what if my failing at two potentially very lucrative careers aren’t failures after all? What if I was simply discovering another career that wasn’t the right fit? I was curious, and I was onto something. These revelations led me to think deeper and harder about how I could—and would—put happiness first in my pursuit of success.

Once I changed my mindset, I changed my life.

Here is what I learned from my various career experiences, and the opportunity to follow in my father’s footsteps.

Pursue meaningful engagement. I embraced my unique strengths in contributing to the happiness of others.

Clarify your why. I identified why I wanted to become a loan consultant. College and credit card debt made me unhappy, but home was always a safe place. Therefore, the deeper purpose was to help others eliminate debt and to help them own a home.

Practice mindfulness. I focused on what I was doing and the experience I was having in that very moment. Rather than always thinking ahead and not really enjoying the time with the people around me.

Strengthen your friendship circles. I realized that life isn’t all about making money. It isn’t about getting an “A” on every test. It is about the people around me, and the importance of dedicating more quality time to the friends and family members who will be there for me when the going gets tough.

Develop your softer skills. I embraced the skills I wasn’t taught in school, and those are personal and communication skills including empathy, listening and the ability to build a team.

So, let’s be more like Lincoln and Edison, and be OK with finding one more way it didn’t work. It just means we are one step closer to achieving the result.


Thanks for reading!

Carissa Abazia