I’ve been a hairdresser since 2008, nearly a decade. It blows my mind to think about that, it feels like I have only been in the hair industry for a few years. The time has flown by and I have enjoyed it tremendously, it hasn’t always been perfect, but I feel like I have made a very successful career as a hairdresser.
But what does that mean? ‘I’ve had a successful career’. How can one measure success? Do I make six figures a year? No. Am I driving a BMW? No. Am I booked solid in the salon for the next three months? No. Am I the best hairdresser in town? I don’t know, I feel like I’m talented and I would assume my clients are pleased with my work.
It doesn’t look like I’m “successful”.
The Buddha once said, “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing you will be successful.” In my career I have met a numerous of people who are making six, seven figures a year, work 50-60 hours a week but they are not happy. Some of these people complain that they never have time to do what they want, they are exhausted, eating poorly, unable to maintain healthy relationships, drinking excessively, the list goes on, but the point is they are unhappy for countless of reasons.
Is that what success looks like in America? Work yourself to death, make those six figures, be miserable, and eventually die? Let me go back to what the Buddha said, “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success. If you love what you do you will be successful.” If you are happy in life you will be successful. What makes you happy?
For me my ideal day is to wake up, go to the gym, meditate, prep my meals, attend class, work in the salon, create beautiful hair, read, write, spend time with those I love, and go to bed. It’s simple, but this is what brings me joy and happiness in my life. I am fortunate to be able to have a career that I love and to find joy in attending university. For those who are working jobs that they do not enjoy it’s even more of a reason to find activates and experiences that bring you happiness. If you are living a life that fills you with joy and happiness, you are living a successful life. Material possessions don’t create happiness, well maybe they do but only for a short while. Experiences create happiness, fill your life with experiences that fulfill you.
In 2013 I moved to San Diego, California, I lived there less than a year. At first, I loved it! I lived and worked close to downtown, the salon I was working at was fun, I was close to the beach, it was a dream. After six months my job situation changed and very quickly my job and life became less fulfilling. I was commuting 2-4 hours a day to and from work, working behind a desk, now longer doing hair. After a few months of not living the life I wanted and being unhappy I decided to move back to Salt Lake City.
I never thought of that experience as a failure. I did something I always wanted to do, move to California. I realized quickly that I wasn’t having fun, there was no joy or happiness in working 40 hours a week behind a desk, spending another 10-15 hours a week driving, and living in a house I didn’t love. Moving to California did not create success for me but moving back home did. Moving back created happiness and made the trip successful because I discovered what I really wanted for my life.
There will not and cannot be one view or idea of success, even a failure can be a success in its own way. Since we all find different pleasures and happiness in life there are numerous ways we will all be successful in our own separate ways. Here I am, living in a town house with roommates, making five figures, single, driving a Kia Soul, I’m back in school, working at a salon I love, I don’t have the latest iPhone, and I couldn’t be any happier or more successful in life.
I leave you with one question, what does your version of success look like?
‘Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.’ -James Dean
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.