There is a common and prevailing mantra in business about making as much money as you possibly can, about being wildly successful at all cost. There is no doubt that being as profitable as you can, and standing tall above your competitors, is a primary aim in business. The question is: At what cost?
The number two regret of people at the end of their life is: “I wish I hadn’t worked so much”. This is an extraordinarily powerful and telling statement given all the things a person could possibly regret when looking back at the life they lived. For those who have a lot of life still ahead, this reality points toward the need to take a much different approach in regard to work and business.
The people who expressed this deep-seated regret at the end of their lives acknowledged spending too much of their time on the treadmill of their work existence, while sacrificing valuable time with their spouses, children, extended family, friends and even themselves. They also allowed their personal dreams and lifetime adventures outside of financial success to pass them by. The profound truth is that these moments and experiences, once gone, can never be recaptured.
I recently spoke with a “successful” businessman who helps other business owners create multi-million dollar companies. He asked me how my Thanksgiving was and, after sharing with him how I had turned my business off for five days to focus on time with my family, replied – with obvious regret in his voice – “I wish I could say that.” This type of thinking is the very foundation of a silent and growing regret that must be caught early and turned around. If it isn’t, it will likely become a top regret at the end of life.
The thought of becoming wildly successful financially, and the associated accolades, praise and recognition that come with it, can be extremely addicting because it feeds the ego. As with any addiction, it has the ability to take over, blinding us to the comprehensive picture of life and all that it has to offer. When this happens, it creates a situation where we are out of balance, ultimately limiting the feelings of happiness and success we are striving for.
A business owner, whose sole focus is on making as much money as possible day-in and day-out, typically has the perspective that their team members should have the same focus. By forgetting that these people have lives, hopes, dreams and desires too, they come to demand more and more from them. The reason is simple: When the focus is solely on money and the accumulation of wealth, people are discounted and forgotten.
I work diligently with business owners to help them see the bigger picture of their life – to discover within themselves what they value and whether what they are sacrificing in their pursuit of riches is truly acceptable to them. Once my clients develop solid work-life balance skills, they begin to make different choices in how they allocate their time; they come to experience a more profound form of success – one that still includes financial gain (often more than ever before), but is not solely focused on it as a driving force in life.
It is important to understand that once your children have grown, your youth has faded and your health has deteriorated, the forsaken dreams you left behind in the pursuit of money cannot be recaptured. That time has passed forever. We all know of people who worked their whole life to make enough money to travel and enjoy the many pleasures of life, only to find that – by the time they “arrived” – they were unable to do so because they had waited too long.
Your life is happening right now! There is room within it for everything you desire, including making money and enjoying the multitude of other things that bring you happiness and pleasure. Once you are conscious about your work and your life, and have the skills in place to create vital balance, you won’t have to work so hard to experience the happiness and success you want. You won’t regret having worked too much.