We live in a society that prioritizes monetary success. We all strive for a respectable income that affords us the abilities to drive what we want, live where we want and travel where we want. And now a phrase that wouldn’t have made sense 20 years ago: We want our lives to look great on Instagram.
So why are so many people who pursue success feeling unfulfilled or restless in their personal lives?
We are raised and taught how to make a living. We learn lessons about business, interviewing skills, how to do market research, how to put together an advertising plan…but we seldom are asked why we want to do these things.
We are seldom asked who we are and how we want to influence the world. Instead, we are always asked what we do.
As a coach who helps professionals create more confidence and fulfillment in their personal lives, I can attest that the workforce is full of people who have never actually stopped to define what makes them truly happy in life.
“I’ve never really stopped to think about it…” answered a 49 year old client when I asked him to lay out parameters in his life that are going to bring true satisfaction.
So, how do you actually figure that out, no matter what your age or professional status is?
Write out an uncensored, honest list of wants vs. needs.
This is not about wanting a Ferrari. This is about wanting freedom, autonomy, a sense of community, a supportive environment. Things that stretch beyond the fabrics of typical consideration. What is truly important to you?
Then write a parallel column that explains the need behind this want. Why is it so important to you? If you put a Ferrari in your wants, what is the true reason behind it? Are you looking for acceptance? Respect? A VIP parking spot at your favorite restaurant?
The better you can define the actual reasons behind what you’re looking to accomplish, the more you will understand your motivations to do so and the more you will be able to bring flexibility to your approach.
Perhaps you want that Ferrari because you’re looking for respect and acceptance. Now that you know those are the things you’re really looking for, consider that you would be able to achieve the same objectives by working at a small start-up where your decisions can cause a fundamental shift in the direction of the company. You may not get the Ferrari, but you will get the sense of community that you really needed.
Prioritize contribution over compensation.
Yes, money is important. Yes, striving for a comfortable income is important. Yes, being able to live a sustainable and independent life is important. Money by itself, though, is always a moving target.
If you find yourself always chasing the money, it is natural to feel like you’re running after a carrot while on a treadmill. You reach a goal, then move the goalpost. Reach, move, reach, move.
Setting and accomplishing obtainable goals is what brings you progress, that is something we should all continue to do — but we cannot do it at the expense of our own personal happiness. Instead of always prioritizing making a certain amount of money at the expense of your own identity, consider what change you want to ignite in the world during your day-to-day. What positive influence do you want to be on those around you? How do you want to elevate those who need it the most? How can you inspire hope and confidence?
If these are the goals we set for ourselves, the money will follow. Think of it as building a house, and contribution to society is your foundation. If you don’t take the time to build the foundation but you start hanging art all over the flimsy walls, eventually what looked pretty from the outside will all come crashing down.
It is better to live a materially modest life with a high sense of self worth, than to sacrifice the latter for the former.
Make it your mission to provide value.
As we develop an increasingly individualized society where everyone is their own branded ecosystem on social media, we are cultivating an atmosphere where many are looking out for their own best interests.
Instead of being frustrated by this, I find there is an opportunity to break the mold and explore ways to help others to accomplish their own goals without asking for anything in return. Over the years, I have written over 800 free articles on this website that have been read by over 37 million people. I don’t charge for content nor do I put up a paywall. I believe that when we give to others in ways that benefit them, they pay far more attention than when you are clearly working in your own best interest.
As you become a trusted resource to people who look to you for guidance, you will receive consistent outreach from those who want to work with you privately, or hire you for your expertise. The true benefit of this is that you have the ability to help others while monetizing your knowledge, creating a fulfilling balance of contribution AND compensation. The golden nugget of career satisfaction.
I believe that if we are truly honest with ourselves about what we would want to do if we didn’t have to get paid for it, it will give us increased clarity in the search or creation of a career path. Choose to take control over your own life, it’s worth more than any paycheck ever will be.
Looking to work with an experienced coach who can help guide you on this journey to fulfillment? Click here to fill out a short application to see if we are a fit to work together.