Somewhere along the way we mislabeled success. We put numbers on it and believed that those numbers are all of the variables that go into being successful.

But what if the definition is broader than that? What if true success is about following your calling, using your gifts, and making a difference? Can you do all of that and find happiness, too?

The truth is, true success and happiness are inseparable from each other.

Think about it. If success and happiness were only about the numbers then everyone who hits their numbers would be happy, right? And, you don’t have to look around very long to know that’s not true. There are a lot of unhappy “successful” people. I know, because I was one of those people at one point.

As a younger man, I made a decision about my life based on a false but widely held assumption and began to live it out accordingly. That assumption? That enough toys, money, corner offices, prestige, and country club memberships would fill the gaping hole in my life.

I set out in my career to achieve all of that and in fact, I did. But you know what? The gaping hole was still there, and in some ways it was less filled than before. It was disheartening to arrive at “success” and find no satisfaction or joy in doing so.

The great Peter Drucker said that sometimes we climb the ladder of success and it is against the wrong wall. How true is that? Yet many among us are doing just that, believing it’s too late to change ladders.

I’m here to tell you that it is never too late. But for you to leave some version of “success” is difficult and requires a lot of bravery. You’ve been lauded and paid well. You’re community and friends recognize that you have ‘arrived’. And, so it seems a tad insane to walk away from all of that, yes?

In fact, it’s the opposite of insane. When I walked away from my corner office I can honestly say that it was the most sane I had ever been in all my life. I look back now and wonder what I was thinking and why I stayed so long. Once I heard and understood the truth, I could never be satisfied again until I acted upon it. That’s what the truth does. It forces us to do something about it, because we can’t ignore it.

And here’s the truth: We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:4). Before we were formed in the womb, God knew us. He wired us to do His work, and there is no one else on the planet wired exactly like us. We are uniquely created for good works by the Creator Himself. Real happiness and success come when we follow our Creator, listen for what he has for us to do, and get busy doing it.

So, do you want to be happy and successful? You can be. Start today. Pray. Get to know and understand how God has wired you. Be open to opportunities and doors that have your life work behind them. I’ve done it, and I am here to tell you that you will never regret it.

Dean Niewolny
Dean Niewolny spent 23 years in executive roles with three of Wall Street’s largest financial firms, finishing his career in the financial sector as market manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Chicago, where he oversaw a $100mm market. While in Chicago, he and his wife, Lisa, traveled many times to Africa and, seeing the abject needs of widows and orphans, made life changes that enabled them to get involved, such as helping to complete an orphan home and a Hospice home in Durbin, South Africa.

In 2010, Dean traded his marketplace career for Halftime to help more people who, like him, wanted to expand their own “first half” success and skills into passion and purpose for meeting human needs and making a significant difference. Dean joined Halftime as Managing Director and in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer.

Dean speaks all over the world to marketplace leaders who desire to use their gifts and talents to serve others. His passion is to encourage business leaders to channel first-half achievement into a second half defined by joy, impact and balance. His first book, Trade Up: How to Move From Making Money to Making A Difference, was published by Baker Publishing and released in July 2017. Click here to buy Trade Up.

Having grown up playing sports—eventually in college and semi-professional baseball—Dean still enjoys coaching youth sports, especially his son’s little league teams. He and Lisa have two children and live in Southlake, Texas.