It’s a paradoxical truth that many high achievers—those who have scaled the heights of conventional career success—often grapple with a deep-seated sense of dissatisfaction. Despite having a laundry list of accomplishments to their names, these individuals wrestle with a hollow emptiness that eludes definition. This phenomenon, more prevalent than one might suspect, often boils down to a trap of delayed happiness.
Success, when defined solely by accomplishments, recognitions, reputation, and aspirations, can lead us down a path of unfulfilling pursuit. It’s like chasing a mirage that fades further into the distance the closer we get.
The Case of David
Consider David. He is a brilliant individual, blessed with enviable confidence and lauded for his achievements in his field. However, beneath this impressive facade, David admits to feeling distressing dissatisfaction—an emptiness as though something fundamental is missing. This hollowness has started to erode his self-confidence, coloring his achievements with the bitter aftertaste of unfulfillment.
David, like many high achievers, finds himself in a cyclic pattern, seeking fulfillment through the “next challenge.” Whether it’s a new role or a career shift to another country, the solution to his dissatisfaction always seems to lie in the “next big thing.” Soon, even this glimmer of hope starts to dim as he grapples with identifying what this “next big thing” could be.
So what’s the way out? Should we stop pursuing achievements? Not necessarily. Achievements hold value, but their importance must be reframed. The key is to prioritize purpose and meaning over profit and recognition.
The pursuit of “more,” a cornerstone of modern capitalism, can coexist with an individual’s purpose. However, striking this balance requires recalibrating our life’s compass to prioritize purpose and meaning over achievement. In this shift, accomplishments become milestones on our journey of purpose and meaning, rather than the destination itself. A big portion of work I’ll be doing here circles around this.
Ultimately, finding fulfillment involves embracing the truth that purpose fuels achievement, not the other way around. When purpose takes the steering wheel, accomplishments transform from hollow victories into gratifying milestones on the path to a life well-lived and filled with meaning.
The Wheel of Life: Mastering The Art of Balance
Achieving balance involves the equal distribution of time, effort, and focus across all major areas of your life, which allows for steadiness in your existence. If balance is lost, one might stumble, and life can feel like it has been put on hold.
Mastering the art of balance is a crucial life skill that, once acquired, has the power to enrich your life significantly. It aids in attaining physical and mental stability, or equilibrium, which can be seen as a vital component to leading a whole and satisfying life. However, it’s important to note that obtaining a state of balanced living is among the most challenging pursuits one can undertake.
Based on extensive research, people’s shared experiences, and my journey, I’ve distilled life’s various aspects into five main domains. I refer to these as the ‘Wheel of Life’.
These domains are:
1. Vision (Purpose): Having a clear vision and purpose gives life meaning. It is the driving force that fuels your actions and all other domains of life and determines your direction. It keeps you grounded during tough times and provides a sense of fulfillment. Knowing your purpose helps you make decisions that align with your values and aspirations.
Steve Jobs co-founded Apple Inc. with a clear vision of making a significant impact on the world by making technology accessible to everyday people. Even after being ousted from the company he founded, Jobs never lost sight of his purpose. He went on to found NeXT and Pixar, continually innovating and striving for excellence. When he returned to Apple, he brought the company back from the brink and introduced revolutionary products like the iPod, iPhone, and iPad.
2. Time: Time focuses on Time and Energy Management. Here’s what it signifies:
T – Time Management: This involves efficiently organizing and using your time to focus on tasks and activities that align with your values and goals. It includes setting priorities, overcoming procrastination, and creating and maintaining effective schedules and routines.
I – Intentionality: This implies consciously deciding where you invest your time and energy, ensuring that your actions align with your overall goals and life purpose. It’s about not just going through the motions, but being strategic and deliberate with your choices.
M – Mastery: This component involves becoming adept at managing your time and energy. Mastery is achieved through consistent practice, learning from mistakes, and continual adjustment of strategies to optimize productivity and alignment with your values.
E – Energy Management: This encompasses understanding your personal energy patterns and using that knowledge to plan your day optimally. It involves recognizing when you are most productive, scheduling important tasks for those periods, and taking regular breaks to recharge. It also includes strategies to maintain physical health and well-being, as these greatly influence your energy levels.
By mastering Time and Energy management, you can overcome distractions, reclaim your focus, and live a life aligned with your values and aspirations.
3. Health: Good health is the foundation of a balanced life. Without physical and mental well-being, it’s challenging to enjoy life fully. Regular exercise, a balanced diet, adequate rest, and mental health care are crucial for maintaining your health. I used to take my health for granted until I nearly lost it. There was a time when work and other commitments led me to neglect my well-being, and its effect on my productivity, mood, and overall quality of life served as a wake-up call. After making significant lifestyle changes to prioritize my health—such as regular exercise, a healthy diet, and mindfulness practices—every other aspect of my life began to fall into place as if by magic.
4. Relationships (Good People): We are social creatures, and relationships play a vital role in our lives. Firm, supportive relationships provide emotional support, enrich our lives, and contribute to our happiness. I recall a period when I found myself in a particularly dark place, with seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel. One late evening, I received an unexpected phone call from a friend. The timing and the content of our conversation had a profound impact on me, providing much-needed emotional support, encouragement, and guidance during a difficult time. In retrospect, this friend may not have known the magnitude of their impact at that moment. Still, this experience underscored for me the invaluable role of solid relationships in maintaining overall life balance.
5. Wealth (Good Life): While wealth does not guarantee happiness, financial stability provides certain level of security and freedom. It allows you to pursue your passions, support your loved ones, and contribute to society. It’s not just about accumulating money, but using it wisely to enhance your life and the lives of others.
Warren Buffett, one of the world’s wealthiest individuals has pledged to give away 99% of his wealth to charitable causes. While he has accumulated great wealth, his definition of success is much broader. He once said, “I measure success by how many people love me.” This quote emphasizes that wealth can provide security and freedom but does not guarantee happiness or fulfillment.
The ‘Wheel of Life’ represents the ultimate life balance. Each domain is interlinked and influences the others. A lack of balance in one area can cause the wheel to wobble, affecting overall life balance. The aim is to distribute time, energy, and resources evenly across these domains to create a balanced, satisfying, and fulfilling life.
However, achieving balance is not a one-time event but a continuous process. It involves making conscious, values-based decisions, focusing on priorities, and practicing discipline in thought and action. As you navigate life, the ‘Wheel of Life’ can serve as a compass, guiding you towards a balanced and purposeful life.
It’s important to remember that balance can vary from person to person, influenced by their individual values, goals, and circumstances. Therefore, the goal is to strive for a balance that feels right for you rather than seeking an unattainable perfect equilibrium.