Entrepreneurship – The Unspoken Guilt of Happiness

By: Amber Branch


Go to high school, get good grades. 

Go to college, get a good job. 

Go to a good job, get a lot of money. 

Get a lot of money, and you will be happy. This is the formula for happiness we were all taught at some point. 

High School + College + Job + Money = Happy

However, for the fortunate few who have hit the trails and lived out the formula perfectly, we have all reached the same daunting conclusion: The formula isn’t real. It’s simply a lifestyle choice that we have made the mass cultural norm to follow.

In my own experiences, I actually expedited the formula and in 9 short years, I learned what it usually take others a lifetime to understand. I learned that the formula was as real as Santa Clause is. What’s my story? Well, I made A/B honor roll all throughout grade school, and went to summer school voluntarily. I went to college with a full semester of credits already completed before even beginning my freshman year. I majored in Engineering and double minored in business and mathematics. I had a job at a Fortune 500 company waiting for me 8 months before graduation. Upon graduation, I climbed the ladder and within 3 years, was already making 6 figures, traveling the world, and living the socialite life. I did all of this by age 28… the irony of it all… I wasn’t happy. 

Stress from my “good job” was literally putting me in the hospital. My boss hated me, and made no point to hide it. I never had any time for my family, or friends. Don’t even get me started on my dating life… that was nonexistent. The point I’m trying to make is that the formula, the one everyone is chasing, teaching and living… isn’t real. There was no rainbow of happiness that was attached to that pot of gold. 

So, coming to that realization, I decided to try writing my own formula for happiness. One where my ingredients were entrepreneurship, strategic living and gratitude. I began building my own business, got a job at a place that could teach me how to run my own business effectively, and I did all of it with a heart of gratitude. Do you know what I found? Happiness. The grades were irrelevant, the degree became just a paper, the title of the job had disappeared, the money was a fraction of what I had before… but happiness was magically there, and it was real.

Now to address the elephant in the room… the unspoken guilt of happiness. Upon reaching the sweet spot of this humble life, another feeling came with it. That moment when you look up and feel the disappointment of those who had other expectations for your life. Or not being able to tell people how much you love your new life because you know they are still working towards that old formula for happiness. Or  when you realize you can’t take everyone with you in the world of entrepreneurship. Or people just plain thinking you are crazy because they don’t understand your formula. All of this leads to one unspoken feeling for every new entrepreneur… guilt. You feel guilty just for being happy. It’s the most ironic, but all too common, coupling of feelings.

However, there is one thing that I am learning on this road, a third from God, a third from experiences, and the other third from Gary V (look him up). That “thing” is to simply live your formula and embrace your happiness. The guilt is only baggage that will keep you from maximizing your entrepreneurial potential. If you aren’t happy, it doesn’t matter if you are using your degree, graduated from an Ivy League school, work for a Fortune 500 company, or are making 7 figures. You are in charge of the life you live. Learn to live one that you can love and never be afraid to write your own formula.

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