Freelancers are figuring out how to build a road to true happiness.

That’s what I’m learning from the reaction to my recent piece in Fast Company. Happiness is what we’re really searching for when we talk about “success.”

It’s not money or notoriety. It’s time, choice, and connection. And it’s worth working for.

This idea of “happiness” came up again this month in this great piece on the real freelance life by New York Times reporter Rachel Swarns focusing on our member Josh Springer. Josh is a 32-year-old website developer and social media consultant living in Sunnyside, Queens.

He knows that getting to happiness is worth the work.

“It’s great, it’s scary, it’s worrisome, it’s stressful, it’s exciting,” he said. “It’s every extreme adjective I can think of.”

That’s what freelancing is, though. It’s life. It’s every extreme part of it, including the happy and exciting parts.

That’s what the Freelancers Pyramid of Self-Actualization is all about. You work hard to get a foothold. Then you climb up higher and higher, connecting with your networks, getting help and giving back. That’s when you know you’re truly successful.

It reminded me that last year we asked our members what they like most about freelancing. These were the responses that got the most “likes”:

Why do you love freelancing?

  • “Getting to connect with and learn from other freelancers”
  • “The freedom it gives me to choose clients, work schedule, vacation, and pretty much everything related with work.”
  • “Being able to take creative risks and not always color within the lines.”
  • “Infinite variety...I love not getting bored.”
  • “Spending more time with my daughter.”
  • “The sunny day bike ride I'm about to go on. I'll work tonight, when the sun goes down!”
  • “I can travel whenever I want, for as long as I want, as long as my laptop is working and I can find internet.”
  • “The office manager here is a chocolate lab! :)”
  • “Doing what I love.”

That sounds like happiness to me.