“If you don’t build your dream life, someone will hire you to build theirs.”
I often ask my coaching clients for 10 of their greatest life lessons as a way to get a sense of what they value in their lives. This was one of those lessons provided by a client and it really hit home for a couple reasons:
Most people don’t define their dream life, so they can’t begin to build it.
I’ve said this before, but in the absence of knowing what your dream life is, it is a little hard to know whether you are successful or not.
Yes, you can have the outward trappings of wealth, and those are wonderful to have, but have you truly created a lifestyle you enjoy?
I know far too many people who have amazing homes, fast cars, and custom suits. Not a single one of them has free time… even the entrepreneurs.
In fact, one of them has a $1 million crystal staircase in one of his homes. Yet he has so little time that he is almost never there.
I’m not saying you can’t have wealth AND free time, but the people who have both who are not retired are rare indeed…
For those of us who are ambitious, the drive towards titles, money and buying high status stuff will never be satiated. So the key is to decide on what other things are important to you now so that you don’t forgo them.
- Time with family
- Free time
These are things that often are important to people but get pushed to the side as professional ambitions are pursued.
Make sure you don’t make that mistake, but rather invest as much as you can in your work after you have met your obligations in these other areas.
Someone will hire you to build their dream life…
This immediately sounds like an entrepreneur looking down on employees, but I don’t take it that way.
Why not? There are plenty of entrepreneurs “hired” by venture capitalists to build the VC’s dream life.
It works the other way too: there are plenty of employees who have been hired by their boss to build their boss’s dream life.
In either situation, the point is this: in a capitalist society we will always be pressured to produce more.
If producing more means longer hours, no vacations and being on call 24/7, that primarily benefits the person who hired you (though you will also see benefits in terms of promotions & salary over the long hall).
After all, how do you get ahead in the corporate world? By exceeding your boss’s expectations and making his job easier. –Which means both you and your boss each get your rewards faster.
The essential thing to remember then is that your business, your boss, and/or your investors all have an insatiable appetite for you to deliver more.
You therefore have to set boundaries around your dream life if you are ever going to achieve it.
Said differently, if your dream life includes engaging family dinners, you have to stop answering email and taking calls when your family sits down to eat… because otherwise you will be working through dinner and failing at your dream.
In my career coaching practice I have seen people lose both health and relationships in service of their careers. It wasn’t their intention, but rather a sense of duty, drive, and obligation at work pushed them forward.
I can’t help but think that a clearer definition of success and the determination to stick to it might have made a dream life that much closer to reality…