Showing posts with label balance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label balance. Show all posts

Friday, February 1, 2013

How Do You Define Personal Success?

What a loaded question huh? I mean success has so many different facets doesn’t it. What category should we explore: financial, romantic, physical, emotional, academic, professional, spiritual? There are so many different types of success it’s hard to qualify a statement like “I’m successful.” It’s probably better to start by asking “Where does success begin?” For me, though, personal success is the most important. I mean, I’d love to be at the top of my professional field, making millions of dollars, after earning my Ph.D., but that won’t all come at once, and it’s certainly a lot of hard work, but would all of that mean anything if my own personal parameters of success weren’t met? Knowing what success means to you is probably the single most important step in actually achieving that success. If you really didn’t know where you were going or why you were pushing so hard for something, even if you achieved that goal, it probably would hold little value, at the very least when you were done, it might feel like a hollow victory.

My guess is even if your dreams and aspirations are vastly different from everyone else’s, if you hold a truly vested interest in what you are doing, you’ll find a whole lot more satisfaction in the endeavor. For a long time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life, I bounced, I made odd choices, and I traveled around the world searching for something that would give me fulfillment. What I eventually realized is this. There’s nothing in this world that will fulfill my deepest desires and wants. Fulfillment and contentment come from within. Sorry to get all Zen on you, but if Buddha was here, he might agree with me. Throughout all my travels, my imagination and want for telling stories never diminished, never went away. I always had a story in my head, I always nurtured the desire to write. It wasn’t until I put aside other distractions that I realized writing is not only what I want to do, it’s what I need to do. Interestingly enough, it took me several more years after that realization to seriously commit to writing regardless of publication success. That’s where my personal success began to flourish. When I write, I feel successful, and that makes all the difference to me. In fact, I just received yet another rejection letter for a submission I sent in for consideration. But you know what, I'm good with that, because getting that letter is just confirmation that I'm trying.  

Like I said, personal success is the most important type of success to me. I think if you find that, the other types of success will follow, at least in some small part. Of course, there is no guarantee of reaching financial success because you’ve found your true professional calling. There’s a lot of starving artists and actors out there who are totally happy pursuing their dreams. But on the other side, I’m sure there are a few investment bankers swimming in cash that are just a bit unhappy that they sold their souls for monetary gain. As I’ve said before, finding balance in your life makes things worthwhile; knowing your own definition of success, makes it that much easier. Good luck.

Thanks for reading. Questions and Comments are welcome. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Working Harder is for Chumps!

Has anyone ever told you that to get ahead in life you have to work hard? I’m sure you have, but I’m going to tell you something radical. Don’t listen to them. To be totally honest, working harder is for chumps. Yes, you read that right, working harder is for chumps. Now I know that might be offensive. Don’t worry, that just means you’re still alive. Relish that fact. 

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. Have you ever read Animal Farm, by George Orwell? If you haven’t you should, but I’ll give you basic run down on one of the main characters. His name is Boxer. He’s basically the muscle and work horse of the farm. He believes in making things better for everyone and is willing to do what it takes to contribute. Unfortunately for Boxer, he’s not very bright. He religiously followed a mantra of “Must work harder” throughout the book. In fact, everyday he does work harder, while those in power continually take negative advantage of him, until one day, Boxer works so hard, he works himself to death. The truly sad thing is he didn’t really get anywhere with all that back breaking hard work. So, I ask you, what’s the point of working harder?

I’ve seen people ‘work harder’ all their lives. I’ve even followed that mantra for a while. You know where it got us? Nowhere but tired. No, don’t get me wrong, working hard is different than having integrity, being efficient, diligent, and reliable. Holding to a virtuous work ethic is a good foundation, but grinding yourself into the ground, day after day, working extra hours, not taking time for yourself, well that’s basically self abuse, and only benefits your boss, not you. Sure you might get a bit of overtime, but in the long run, you’re only wearing yourself down. I would propose an alternative.

“You must work Smarter!” Try that one on for size. If you think about it, that makes a hell of a lot more sense. But that’s so cliché, you might say. Perhaps, but think about how much more ingrained the work harder mantra is to most people. Innovators and entrepreneurs worked hard on their craft, to a point. They also examined the situation and devised a way of doing things that was more efficient, revolutionary, easier, less taxing, etc., and they changed the world. The basic example here is to look at what you’re doing and really contemplate the value of your effort with the value of your return. Then think about years from now. If you see yourself in the same position, or even just a few steps ahead, maybe it’s time to change your focus and attention to something new.

You don’t have to change the world if you don’t want to, but if you do things smartly you might just change your world. And that’s where success in life begins. Beating yourself to death working hard robs you of other experiences that can enrich your life and bring deeper meaning to your existence. Life is a balancing act. Don’t be a slave to your own convictions. Or at the very least, don’t be a slave to your job. Don’t be a chump, work Smarter, not harder.

Albert Einstein is a great example of someone who worked Smarter, not harder. He's a tough act to follow, but you might as well set your standards high. Otherwise, what's the point. 

Thanks for reading. Questions and comments are always welcome. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What’s the price of your dream?

Ocean of Dreams
Have you ever wanted something so bad that you were willing to sacrifice everything else to get it?  There are so many choices we have to make in life, sometimes it’s difficult to know what to sacrifice and what to hold on to.  Dreams can be powerful motivators in directing your life to a positive state.  However, dreams can be destructive gremlins that ruin everything else if you let them.  It’s okay to have a dream, to want it fulfilled and live the way you want to live, but it always comes at a price.  I’ve heard it said, you have to give to get.  Well I’m sure that’s true, but how much should you give, and how much should you get back?  If you haven’t realized yet, I’m talking about balance.  When your life is balanced, things make sense.  When you are off kilter, things are confusing.  So, if you have a dream and are willing to sacrifice everything else to get it, will that balance your life?  To me, the easy answer is no.

When I was in college, I wanted to graduate.  Obviously graduation represented an accomplishment and proof to the world that I achieved something extraordinary.  Graduating also meant I could get a better job.  But also, and even more important to me, were the experiences I gained while in school.  Yes it was important to get an education, it was important to have credentials and documents, but I was not willing to sacrifice everything to get it.  I read about some people who sacrifice things in advance without knowing the consequences, and it’s sad.  Was their dream to be mired in debt for life?  Of course not, but it goes to show you life can be tipped off balance easily if you don’t pay attention to details.  I worked through college just like a lot of other students.  I also knew exactly why I was there.  And, coming from a poor family, I understood the value of every dollar I earned and spent.  I had to balance my dreams with my reality. 

It’s hard to find balance sometimes.  It may be that you will have to suffer before you come to understand.  I know that’s not comforting, but it is reassuring to know if you pay attention to those details I was talking about, you will find that balance… eventually.  Following your dreams is a worthy endeavor.  Don’t stop.  Just remember that there are many paths to go down in your pursuit.  If something seems way too difficult, complex, or confusing, stop.  You don’t have to change your dream, just change the path you take to get there.  That way, you can still follow your dream without sacrificing everything else you care about to get it.  And that’s a good balance in life!

Ocean of Dreams by Josephine Wall

This amazing painting is by Josephine Wall; it's called Ocean of Dreams.  Check out her online gallery.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to reply.  Thanks for reading!

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