I work with a lot of ambitious and driven professionals who set big goals for themselves and pursue these goals with extreme passion, commitment, and relentlessness. I pride myself on being the same.
For highly driven people the line between work life and personal time are often nonexistent. They think about work-related matters at home, attend to emails and text at all times of the day and night, and they have no issue creating, planning and managing personal endeavors while at work.
I have had many friends excuse themselves during dinner to take a call or respond to email about a business deal or transaction. At first, this seemed rude and antisocial behavior to me. However, over the years I have learned to accept and tolerate it. Personally, I try to avoid this behavior while entertaining or socializing with friends. However, I could do better at home and I believe I am, thanks to my wonderful wife who is on our entire family’s case about “Close all devices while the family is together!”.
If you are ambitious and driven, you know it comes with other characteristics, such as
- You focus on the outcomes much more than the destination.
- You don’t seem to ever be satisfied until you achieve your goals.
- You spend very little time (if any at all) acknowledging, enjoying and celebrating your achievements. In fact, the minute you have achieved a goal you are immediately on to the next one.
- You tend to be more highly-strung and not as good at “chilling”, “relaxing” as my teen kids sometimes put it, and simply enjoying the moment.
Generally, highly ambitious and driven people seem to be on a bold mission 24/7 and even when we achieve great milestones, progress, and achievements along the way, and others recognize us for it, we still often seem to feel like “We are not quite there yet”. We fall into the trap of feeling that only when we realize our goals and other achievements “we will really make it, and then be able to truly relax and enjoy life to its fullest”.
I have personally experienced this, and I have seen others become overwhelmed by the pursuit of their goals. It’s like, we create these goals to empower ourselves and them along the journey we sometimes forget that we are the ones who set them in the first place and put us in this dynamic.
Consider this quote from Fr. Alfred D’souza, which I thoroughly love and resonate with, which eloquently conveys this:
“For a long time, it had seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last, it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life”.
The entire “retirement” concept is predicated on this paradigm – we work extremely hard throughout our life, often sacrificing and neglecting key areas like family, marriage, health and recreation, typically in order to achieve financial goals that would allow us to get to that stage in our life when we can retire and then “Truly start doing what we love to do” I have heard this strategy from so many people.
In addition, ambitious and driven people so often equate their material achievements and success with their identity and self-worth. As a result, they get caught in the hamster wheel of jealousy and competitiveness, and even when they reach certain milestones they don’t take the time to appreciate and celebrate what they have accomplished. Instead, they move right into the next goal and the rat race continues.
And, let’s be honest, the popularity of social media doesn’t help at all! In fact, it only makes things worse. Instead of only seeing our neighbor’s new car, we are now connected with thousands of “friends” online and seeing how others live their lives. No wonder we often feel like the grass is greener on the other side.
Throughout our prime years, as we are working our butts off, we feel like “when we get the next promotion…. close the next deal…. make the next million…buy the house or car of our dream or get our children through college or “married…. “THEN life will truly be great”. But then when we reach old age we often talk about our life as “The good old days”.
So, if throughout our life we feel that “someday” we will start living and then at the prime of our life we feel like “the good old days are behind us”– When is our time to live and enjoy, and be happy???
We all know the answer – “NOW!”. But, it’s not enough to understand this. You need to translate it into real practices, routines, and priorities.
In a future blog, I’ll share my thoughts about “How to not forget the Now” and not forget to live in the moment!