I grew up in a culture where parents sacrificed their own happiness for the future of their children. Educating your children and giving them a chance of a better life was a noble deed.
So it’s no surprise that my own adult life as a husband, father, and a worker has been influenced by this narrative of self-sacrifice. For me, there was nothing nobler than working hard to provide for the people I loved even if it meant sacrificing my own mental and physical health.
Additionally, another narrative began to influence my life since I moved to the United States. The narrative of the American dream, the promise that building and amassing wealth brings the happiness that you and your family deserve.
At first, it seemed like I was on the right path. I was doing all that a productive member of society was expected to do. I was building a corporate career in large, international organizations. My family was in a good financial position. And I was meeting the needs of various other people in my life.
Of course, there was a price to pay (everything has a price). I was spending many nights away from home; in airports, in the back seat of Ubers, and in hotel rooms. I missed important family events and celebrations. I wasn’t eating well or getting regular exercise. I often found myself driving home late at night and tip-toeing into bed so I wouldn’t wake up my already sleeping family.
There comes a time when the money you earn begins to cost you more than you can afford.Aaron McHugh – Work Life Play Podcast
It all came to a head when depression set in, and the wheels began to come off the old rickety cart I called life. At this point I plotted the trajectory of my life; What will this look like if I keep this up for another 10 years?
It didn’t look pretty.
I was paying too high a cost, and the “return on investment” wasn’t worth it. As Aaron McHugh says, “There comes a time when the money you earn begins to cost more than you can afford”.
Just over a year ago I decided to take action and make some major changes in my life. To do that, I needed to understand my current situation and then plot the curve to where I wanted my life to go. With these three areas in mind: career, health, and relationships, I asked myself the following questions:
If I repeat everything I’ve done during the last 12 months and plot the curve 10 years into the future, where am I likely going to end up?
What are the beliefs/philosophies that have brought me to this place?
What do I need to do to alter the arc of this curve and plot a new trajectory for my life?
To be sure, these questions came to me over time. However, once I started the journey of creating awareness in my own life, I was amazed at just how much I was stuck in my ways.
How could it be wrong to work hard to provide for my family, I asked myself.
It wasn’t until I realized what was important to my family was my presence that I began to reframe my philosophy. I realized what I needed to do was work hard for them by taking care of myself so I can be present in their lives – now and in the future.
Question: What about you? If you plot the curve of the trajectory of your life over the next 10 years, where is it headed? Take out a piece of paper and answer the questions above. I’d love to hear your take. Share your thoughts about this and other issues in the comments below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.