Twenty years ago, when rapper Notorious B.I.G. famously asserted, “Mo money, Mo problems,” he spoke to our frustrations about how life can become complicated, and relationships strained, when we climb the ladder of success. Did money bring Biggie happiness?
Maybe not, but that doesn’t have to be the case for everybody. There’s a lot you can do to ensure that your pursuit of professional success isn’t a joyless, stressful experience but rather a happy one with positive outcomes. Here are a few ideas to help you get your cake and eat it, too.
Do What You Love
It’s not work if you love it, right? It might be hard to imagine for those of us stuck in cubicles all day, but there really are people out there who truly love their jobs. These lucky folks can’t wait to get up each day and start working. For some, the underlying mission of the work is what brings them back each day. For example, teachers aren’t typically paid a ton of money, but many love their profession because of the difference it makes on the lives of children.
Other folks have started their own companies, and they thrive on the responsibility and challenge of making all the key decisions. So maybe it’s time to think about what you or your company provides the world, as well as your place in the corporate hierarchy. Are you able to make an impact on others, or do you just punch the clock? Are you merely a cog in the machine, or do you turn the wheel?
Get a Life
Even if you make the big bucks, long hours at the grindstone can be unhealthy and debilitating. An improved work-life balance will help reduce stress and make you feel stronger and better prepared to deal with the inevitable trials and tribulations you face each day.
To get things turned around, start by asking your boss if you can work from home 1-2 days per week. Tell her that you’ll actually get more done because you’ll be able to translate those commute hours into productive work time. And with the wide array of video conferencing tools available today, like Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Google Hangouts, and Gotomeeting, as well as collaboration tools like Slack, InVision, Trello, and trusty old Google Docs, you’ll be just as plugged-in as ever.
After you’ve reduced or even eliminated that nasty commute, your next task is to carve out some “me time” and fill it with activities that are inspirational, fun, or simply relaxing and stress-free. Volunteering for a charity or nonprofit is one way to lift your spirits. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to agree with the Dalai Lama, who has said, “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek.”
Alternatively, you could take up a new athletic activity, like running or tennis, or sign up for an art class at your local community college—really, you can do anything as long as it gives your mind a break from the stresses of work.
Remember, work should be a means to an end rather than an end in itself. There’s nothing wrong with working hard in order to afford a home for your family, but if you’re climbing the ladder just so you can put a fancy nameplate on your desk, you may have gone astray.
We live in a consumer-driven society, full of advertisements and social incentives to keep up with the Joneses. But the Jones family doesn’t really exist—they’re a figment of our imagination. Blindly chasing them just puts us on a treadmill to nowhere.
The next time you’re about to buy an expensive item, ask yourself, ‘Is this a want, or is it a need? Do I really need this now, or would it be better to save the money in an interest-bearing account and use the money to help me attain my long-term goals, like attending school, buying a safer car, or putting a down-payment on that first home?’
When you start increasing your saving, you’re able to worry a tiny bit less about your next dollar. That peace-of-mind is like thermal insulation for your home: you might be able to live without it, but it’s a heck of a lot cozier inside when dollars aren’t flowing through the cracks.
Value your success
For many ambitious people, the drive to succeed is so overpowering that it blinds them to their accomplishments. After they’ve climbed one ladder, suddenly another appears that must be climbed immediately, at all costs.
There’s nothing wrong with ambition, of course, nor with wanting to be successful. But unless you take time to smell the roses, or the spray of the ocean at your beautiful home on the beach, you’ll never be able to fully appreciate your achievements. Like a shark that never stops moving, you won’t be able to relax for fear you’ll sink to the bottom.
For us humans, that’s really no way to live. So before you turn the computer back on after dinner, take a breath, reflect on your success, and give yourself a pat on the back. You’ve done great!
This content is compensated and contributed by the good folks at CPA Review Courses–an online resource dedicated to helping professionals pass their CPA exam on their first try. They provide invaluable reviews, tools, and study tips to fast-track the success of future Certified Public Accountants.