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How to be Successful Without Compromising Your Life
I was recently talking to a woman who launched a successful product.
She netted 97K. Seriously.
Just as seriously, her husband had promptly served her with divorce papers. For added measure, he intended to seek physical custody of their daughter.
She was informed that she “was a good boss but a lousy wife and an absent mother.”
Success should come with a warning label.
When you’re reading your umpteenth leadership or mindset book, you’re reminded to take action. You’re told to work hard now so you can play later.
Business owner and entrepreneur, Mark Cuban, teaches people to ”work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it all away from you.”
Oprah tells us to “do what we have to now so we can do what we want to later.”
Just do a quick search of mindset quotes and you’ll find:
- Hustle until you no longer have to introduce yourself.
- Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like some people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like some people can’t.
- Don’t stop when you’re tired. Stop when you’re done.
- If it were easy, everyone would do it.
Aren’t we all getting a bit drunk on the mindset Kool-Aid?
We’re led to believe this myth….that if we hustle now, everything we want will come later.
If we ignore our relationships now, we won’t have them when we get to the top.
There are always time and financial sacrifices when we are pursuing professional success. If our partners aren’t on board and accepting of those sacrifices, they won’t want anything to do with our success.
When loved ones get asked to “wait”, to “be patient” or to “just hold on” for a little while, they are usually happy to. However, when that request becomes an expected habit and they are constantly being put on the back burner, their response changes.
They pull back and start guard off. They get tired of not being chosen first and they avoid getting closer in an attempt to miss you less.
These couples experience a breakdown in intimacy as conflicts increase.
It’s worse when your kid stops talking to you.
Adult partners at least have some idea of what professional success can mean to someone personally and to their bottom line. Kids, on the other hand, don’t care. They just see that you had a choice and you didn’t choose them.
Their fuse is short and quick. They’ll chase you and wait for you for a little while but at some point, they get used to living without you. They do what kids are supposed to do.
We can’t stop time.
Kids have recitals and baseball games. Parents get older. Our own health can often be an unexpected sacrifice in our quest for success.
How many times do we have to hear someone talk about how their heart attack was their wake-up call before we listen, take note, and make a change in how we live our own lives?
Are we really so ballsy as to think that it can’t or won’t happen to us?
We Can’t Afford to Put Our Work-Life Balance on Standby.
This is the mistake that so many of us make when we’re dreaming our dreams and working toward the pinnacle of professional success.
It’s not that we forget about our relationships or stop caring about them. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
We believe that we are sacrificing time and attention with them now so we can be with our loved ones more later. We’re doing this for them, for us.
It’s usually too late before we figure out that isn’t how any of this works.
This is How to Choose the Life You Want
We Have to Schedule Our Priorities Instead of Prioritizing Our Schedule.
Are you willing to make things in your personal life non-negotiable?
That’s the only way it works…. We choose our priorities. Our lives and our happiness become a reflection of those choices. Each time we compromise away time with our partners, families, and hobbies, we’re giving ourselves away.
Obviously, there will be times when it’s unavoidable and during those times when personal things get shuffled, we have to choose to reschedule them.
Each time we tell ourselves that it’s ok to skip date night for a week or to take a pass on a family dinner, we are telling ourselves that work is more important than our personal life.
In that choice, we are compromising our happiness.
We have to set boundaries at work.
If we’re serious about wanting work-life balance and the happiness that comes with it, we have to be willing to disrupt the status quo on both sides of the scale.
The only way our relationships, our families, and our health come first is if we truly put them there. We have to be willing to tell a boss “No, not tonight.”
We have to be willing to leave emails unopened, calls unreturned, and projects incomplete at the end of the day.
Too often though, it’s easier to disappoint our loves ones than it is to look our boss or professional colleagues in the eye and say “Sorry, I can’t stay late. I have plans with my daughter” or “I know the deadline is this week but it just isn’t realistic. I am not willing to work 80 hours this week to get this done.”
Saying “no” at work is terrifying but that isn’t a reason to say “yes”.
It feels like we are putting our job and professional success in jeopardy…the same kind of jeopardy we put our relationships, our families, and our health in when we say no to them.
We fear risking our livelihoods by making any other choice in our professional lives. That fear traps us into giving our professional responsibilities more control over our personal lives than they are entitled to.
We might have to sacrifice some professional success.
I know how the business world works. I get the competition and demands placed on people. I know, too, the pressure that comes from owning your own business and for being responsible for its financial success.
I know that having boundaries and limits in our professional lives will have a cost. Someone scrambling behind you may be willing to pull that 80 hour work week and they may get the next promotion.
Compromises cannot only be made on one side of the scale.
It may take longer to get to where you want to be. You might have to change your timeline. Hell, you might be required to take a different route altogether.
It’s an unavoidable reality of work-life balance and of choosing happiness.
I work with people every day who are living in the wreckage of their personal lives.
They compromised too much away in their quest for success. They’re facing fractured relationships. They’re regretting lost parenting moments they’ll never get back. They are missing loved ones they didn’t spend the time with when they had the chance and they’re cleaning up the messes they made with their health after years of neglect.
“We are 100% responsible for our own happiness.”
How do you like this mindset mantra?
If you want work-life balance, that desire has to be seen in the reflection of the choices you make.