I’ve also met professionals who are having a very hard time trying to keep a balance between their professional and personal lives.
In both cases, the urgent situation serving as a background is the same: our society is conditioning us (others might call it "programming") to believe professional success is the most important achievement in life, and that only after you’ve got to your highest professional stage you can actually consider yourself a happy person in the other areas of your life.
And there is nothing further away from reality.
In fact, a few days ago I read an article in which a successful businessman shared how he had seen his life transformed after having spent a few weeks in Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, and how those weeks made him realized that, despite the tough economic situation the majority of people there face, they can still enjoy life and smile often.
Something that many people in First World countries simply dream of doing.
First of all, we are people, human beings.
And that's the reality: To start with, we were born from our parents and have spent at least the first two decades of our lives cultivating our own personas, our "Inner Me", what and who we are as individuals.
That is the basis of everything else. All relevant stories that come afterwards in our lives are based on the values and principles we learnt and internalized during those early years of our lives, thanks to our parents, our school teachers and, after them, as a result of social interactions with our peers.
A successful professional can never considered himself "complete" if its reality as an individual, spouse or parent is broken or incomplete.
From the moment we dive into society, we start to take on additional roles: I met my 25+ years long spouse during my college years. Then some years after we got married, had a couple of wonderful children and reached what I might call my "maturity as a professional", right by the time my oldest son was a couple of years old.
In your case, those situations don’t have to follow the very same sequence but what’s really important is that those roles must keep the same hierarchy (or at least they should):
- First "Individual".
- Then "Boyfriends in love".
- After that "Parenthood"
- And finally, "Professional".
If as an individual, you are not in communion with yourself, if you aren’t familiar with your own weaknesses and strengths, your fears, the forces that motivate you and drive you forward, then you’ll carry all of these shortcomings to your personal relationships, as well as to the way you relate with your kids and with colleagues in your professional life.
It's that simple, in a major or lower scale, but just that simple.
Achieving professional success shouldn’t mean sacrificing everything else.
How many cases can you recall about those personalities most people consider their idols, only to discover those “idols” had disastrous sentimental relationships in their real lives? Or had multiple addictions, whether alcohol, drugs, smoking, etc and so on? Or are regularly involved in public scandals of any kind?
How many times have you felt sorry after seeing the person you had so highly valued, mounted on a pedestal, being thrown into prison for giving its partner a brutal beating? Or because they are publicly and openly criticized by their own children?
There will never be money enough in any person’s banking account to buy happiness.
That’s why it is sometimes necessary to be reminded that our personal growth and development should go from the inside out, and not the other way around. Money doesn’t buy happiness, although it’s clear it makes things much easier.
If you don’t believe that money is not everything, simply take a look at the poorest countries. Those which, at least theoretically, are more unfortunate: Even with all the shortcomings they have, with all the challenges they face day after day, people on those places have learnt to live life with a big smile, and stress is not such a powerful killer as it is for us, who so regularly fill our own mouths saying we have money and resources enough to have access to almost everything.
How do you think that kind of happiness is possible?
Happiness and success are tucked deep within ourselves.
Sometimes it is interesting to learn things from what we see happening to other people. We not necessarily should have to wait to go through every imaginable experience ourselves, to understand things.
For me, personally, I’d like to rationalize deep inside that I can be extremely happy with fewer material things, instead of having to live on extreme poverty to learn the lesson.
Our strength as professionals, parents and couples lies in the strength we have as individuals, human beings.
Likewise, I would like to have the ability to truly pay attention and enjoy all the different aspects of my life (as an individual, partner, parent and professional) without any of them being sacrificed on the name of others.
I believe it’s my job to recommend you to pay close attention to all of them equally. Yes, it’s very important that you achieve all the goals you set for you as a professional and for your own business, that’s definitely true.
But it is also true that none of your professional achievements will have value if, along the road, you leave aside or directly abandon your roles as a couple or as a parent.
And if it’s the case you don’t have any children or are involved in any relationship, then it makes even less sense to become one of those successful characters who have given everything to achieve what for many is "the professional and economic summit", and along the way have destroyed their most wonderful gift: their own lives.
Or it does make sense?
Photo credit: 123RF / Kurhan
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