We grow up in a world where people tell us we should be doing this, should be doing that, or we should not be doing something. Our parents, our families, our teachers, and other people that we are close to want us to live wonderful, productive lives. Many parents want their children to be doctors, lawyers, engineers, or any other high-status, well-paying profession so that they can be financially secure and well-respected. Their thinking is that these professions will be a guaranteed path to job security and wealth. Even those these professions are highly regarded, that doesn’t mean they are the right path for YOU.
If you live the dreams and desires of someone else, you will never feel successful deep inside. You won’t feel truly happy nor will you feel that you are being the best version of yourself. Instead, you need to think deeply and ask yourself, what is important to you? What do you want out of life? How do you define success?
Sure, there’s society’s definition of success, which is generally very similar to your parents’ definition. We are subconsciously conditioned to veer towards that path. When we stray from that path, many of us feel guilt or shame. We feel that we are failing ourselves and not doing the best we can. However, true success is defined by ourselves, and only ourselves. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine what your ideal life looks like. Dig really deep and think about the things that matter to you most. It most likely won’t be you slaving away at a boring job for a huge paycheck, nor will it be you owning 15 Bentleys. Think deeply about the things that truly make you happy. Is it obtaining financial independence, traveling to new places, building something new, expressing yourself artistically, competing in a sport, developing genuine relationships, experiencing amazing food, or being out in nature? If you define success as achieving and experiencing the things that make you happy and work towards that, then you will feel much more free and fulfilled.
When you think about what you want out of your life, start thinking about what you can do to get there. Your work is a way to provide income for you to experience the things you want to experience in this world. Think of work as a piece of your ideal life. Work can be a tool to help you achieve your ideal life or it can be a large part of it if you truly enjoy your job. Your work should promote your ideal life, not prevent it from happening. Although work isn’t everything, it is an important part of our lives. Consider these pillars I have listed pertaining to your work. Think about how important they are to you and how you can create a more meaningful life for yourself by finding work with these pillars in mind.
What do you want to contribute to society? Are you currently doing something that you feel is meaningful to the rest of society? Are you adding value to someone’s life? Sure, a doctor can heal people and a firefighter can save lives. However, that is not the only way to help other people. You can create a product that helps people in other ways. You can perform a service that makes people’s lives easier. Everyone has something meaningful to contribute.
Are you happy doing your job? Do you enjoy going to work and performing the day-to-day tasks? You need to be happy doing your job, otherwise you will negatively impact everyone around you. Furthermore, if you are not happy, you aren’t living a sustainable lifestyle nor are you being the most productive version of yourself.
How much money do you really need to earn to live the lifestyle that makes you happy? How much do you really need to provide a comfortable life for yourself and your family? Not everyone needs multiple cars and a large house. Sure, if that is what you want, that is okay too. However, if you don’t really need that much money to live a happy life, but you feel that people expect you to earn a large income and you set your life around building that income, then you will feel plenty of friction, frustration, and an overall lack of satisfaction. If you get caught up in keeping up with the Joneses when that lifestyle doesn’t even appeal to you, then you’re only doing harm to yourself. On the other hand, if you find that you don’t earn enough income to live the life that you want, then take responsibility for it and figure out ways to increase your income. Figure out ways to cut costs in unimportant areas so you can free up more cash for more important items. The key is to be aware of what you really want, then work towards that.
If you are earning a huge salary but working 80 hours a week at the same time, you have very little flexibility and free time. Are you happy doing that? Remember, we are lucky to have a good 80 years on this planet. Do you want to spend almost all of it working on something that you don’t really care about? It is important to think about your job flexibility since you may want to travel more, exercise more, experience more, or spend more time with your friends and family.
With these 4 pillars in mind, assess whether or not you are happy with your current work situation. Is your current work situation allowing you to live the type of successful life that you have defined for yourself? If not, there are various levers you can pull to get to your ideal state. Can you arrange to work remotely so you can spend more time with family or to travel more on your own? Can you develop more skills so that you can get a higher paying job? Can you network your way into a company that will offer you more flexibility? Can you start a side business so that you can earn an additional income stream? Can you downsize your house or cut costs in other ways so that you’ll have more money left over to pursue other interests and experiences? These are all just suggestions that you can think about to create your ideal life, and ultimately, live up to your own definition of success.
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