Is Your Ambition Killing You?
In the world of work & business, it’s a battlefield.
Like any battlefield, there are no office hours. You have to stay alert & vigilant. You have to work your ass off to survive.
And in this battlefield of work, we’re told:
Quitting is not an option
Push beyond your limits
Sleep as little as possible
Be productive every second of the day
Just ask Elon and whoever is left at Twitter these days.
To do this we push everything aside in the name of revenue & profits.
And even our health
Pre-Covid, how many times in your career did you go to work sick as a dog to meet a deadline or to show up for the benefit of your boss?
I know I did.
And if I was really being honest, for some of us, our boss isn’t always the enemy, sometimes it’s our own ego that keeps us maniacally pushing to achieve status and possibly wealth.
Not knowing our limits or honouring our life priorities is literally killing us
In Japan, where overworking is in the fabric of its culture, they even have a word for it.
“Karoshi” - It means “death by overworking”.
Yet, we still don’t quit.
I should know, at the age of 38 I had a stress induced heart issue that required heart surgery.
For me, no one was forcing me to work 60-70 hours a week. My ego was in the driver's seat.
My mind pushed me well beyond my physical limits, and it broke me.
A phrase that I’ve been telling my clients lately is:
“Know your limits or your body will tell you.”
So what do you do?
Step 1: Redefine your personal definition of success
First step to taking better care of ourselves? Have a REALLY close look at your personal definition of success.
For most of you, I’m willing to bet your life plans is predominantly about your career, personal finances & your retirement nest egg.
I say this because we're barely taught life planning at all in school. And because I myself was caught in this tunnel vision trap of only planning for our family finances & career.
But that definition of success excludes the other 80% of who you are and what it means to have a successful and fulfilling life.
There’s 10 dimensions to a fulfilling & successful life:
Spirituality / Religion - How connected are you?
Our Emotions - Are you able to express yourself?
Character / Personality - Are you being your authentic self?
Health & Fitness - Are you physically & mentally fit?
Intellect - Are you continuing to learn? Are you able to share what you’ve learned?
Love Life - The quality of your connection with your partner or spouse.
You as a Parent - (If applicable) Are you the type of parent you want to be?
Social Life - Are you prioritizing your friendships as well?
Your Career - Are you in a career that helps you be successful in the other 9 dimensions?
Finance / Wealth - Do you have the finances to achieve your life goals?
Creating your life plan and life objectives with these 10 dimensions at the core of it, is a great start to achieving a much more sustainable life.
And if you're not familiar with this process, I've coached people through it.
Step 2: Check your ego at the door
Why do you need to aim for having Mercedes when a Honda Accord will do?
Why do you need the goal of a luxurious home, when a townhouse is more than fine?
Do you feel entitled to have certain material things? If so, why do you think that's the case?
(And if it's because of all the hard work you've been putting in, that's some circular cause & effect situation that you're going to need to address.)
Yes, work culture has been broken for the last 20 years. But it isn’t your work or boss that is pushing you to have certain amenities in life.
If you don’t already have a life plan, write down all the things you aspire for you and your family.
Then have an honest Q&A with yourself:
Are you willing to sacrifice your physical or mental health to attain your goals?
How will the pursuit of these goals affect your relationship with your spouse or kids?
How realistic is it to attain everything on this list without one goal negatively affecting the others?
Which one of these goals are truly needs vs wants? And if it is in the category of “want”, what is a comfortable alternative?
When my wife and I reviewed some of our goals, it was eye opening how many of them were related to status. And it took work to get to the point of realizing that chasing status was at the core of several issues.
Some of us may justify working like a mad man in the service of doing it for our family & kids.
All my kids ever wanted was their dad. They didn’t ask for luxury cars.
Food for thought.
Being Ambitious isn't Bad
Wanting to be comfortable isn’t bad.
Ambition isn’t wrong.
Accomplishments aren’t evil.
But when these things start to deteriorate relationships, quality time with your kids or worse begins to affect your mental or physical health, that's when it get's toxic.
Wanting nice things isn't bad, as long as you recognize the full extent of all the tradeoffs you will be making.