Ahh the American dream: for the purpose of this article, we will generalize that is a well-paying job, white picket fence, nice car in the garage and 2.5 kids. 🙂 Obviously I know that isn’t everyone’s dream- stay with me here mr. sassy pants. Let me go a step more general- the American dream is security and usually that equates to some accumulation of wealth.
What are the stories that our society praises? An immigrant who starts with nothing but the clothes on his back and now 35 years of grind later and he can afford to put his kids through college- a luxury he never had. Or someone is born into poverty and claws their way up from the bottom of the barrel to a top executive position. Let me be clear- I am so happy for these people that have these stories and hope only the best for them. I love and applaud success in any form. But more than I love success, I love it when people are BOTH successful AND happy. And that is what this article is about.
Sure, you could try the “work as hard as you possibly ever could” approach to success: By working 80-hour weeks, persevering through blood, sweat and tears to accomplish your interpretation of the American dream- Some people achieve success that way, right? Sure, no doubt that wealthy people exist like this. But what is the price they often pay? How happy are these people? How tightly do they hold on to their money? Do they have a home life? Are their relationships solid or do they have estranged relationships with family? Do they suffer from absentee parent syndrome? Maybe they found out they had an illness or disease in that time. Perhaps their body ages to match the stress it is feeling from lack of sleep or poor eating habits. You work and work and work yourself to the bone saying, “just a little longer and I will be able to slow down.” You save and invest and then retirement age comes (maybe later) and you FINALLY decide ok, now I can start living. If that is your cup of tea, more power to you. It’s not mine though. I relish in all that life has to offer. I like free time. I like stopping to smell the roses. I like traveling for pleasure. I like spending time with my children and family. I like going to bed with a smile on my face and waking up refreshed.
The key issue I see over and over again- the critical misstep 90% of people make- is many people first say “I want to make a lot of money” and then they chase after whatever society has shown to be profitable. Maybe that is a career as a lawyer or doctor. Maybe that is to go into IT or to become a start-up entrepreneur. Maybe that is just putting in more and more hours doing something you have been trained at and doing the past 20 years. More often than not, it is working to the point of extreme exhaustion, putting in very long hours.
People stick to this pre-determined path because it is “safer” than pursuing something unknown. Instead of letting their passion drive their decision-making, they blindly follow the pre-paved, well-traveled money trail. Those people are going to have a much harder time finding happiness and satisfaction in their careers, indeed most likely in their lives in general because they don’t actually love what they do- they just want them money that comes from doing it.
Now listen- I am an All-American girl and I love money. Money and I are best friends. I have always been (and continue to be) very motivated and driven to be successful and to have money. In fact, for the longest time, I was making this same mistake as everyone else. I would search job boards for the next step on the corporate ladder of success. I would tolerate conditions that I hated hoping things would get better. Like the Wilson Phillips song, I would tell myself, “hold on for one more day,” and “pretty soon I will be one step closer to an executive position.”
But I have since had my revelation- call it an early mid-life crisis (only hold the crisis and just add the burst of enlightenment and the shift in my perspective)- and I am hoping you will benefit from it too.
What if I told you that you can be successful- however you interpret that to mean (e.g. wealth, fame, relationships) – and you can also ENJOY yourself too.
You can enjoy the ride.
Sure you work hard, but it doesn’t feel like work because you are doing what you love. And most importantly, your hard work is NOT at the sacrifice of your health, well-being or balance. What if I told you that was possible? Not only possible, friends, but THAT should become your new definition of pursuing the quintessential “American Dream,” in my humble opinion. Please don’t tell me it is too good to be true. It’s not. I’m living proof. And I have many colleagues and clients that will back me up.
So how do we do that? A great first step is to identify your core values- the things that mean the most to you- and then after that, you hone in on the things that bring you the most enjoyment. Start THERE…and abundance, wealth, relationships, and health can all very easily follow suit. In pursuing your passion, your love and delight for what you are doing will open up new avenues to you that you never thought or knew to be possible, resulting in the abundance you have dreamed of.
Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time narrowing your list down to 2 or 3 but keep at it. I’m pretty sure it took me 5 rounds. I think I literally started with close to 100 words (and clearly decisiveness is not one of them- Hah!). My core values are Mastery, Entertainment and Connection – but to put it in perspective, the runner’s up that hold meaning for me are: Accomplishment, Authenticity, Balance, Peace, Playfulness, Curiosity, Being Helpful, Meaningful Interactions, Freedom, Beauty, Creativity, Music, and Nature.
Ok so get working on your top 3. It may take some time- don’t rush through this. It is super super super valuable to drill down this list and find the absolutely perfect 2-3 core values. Got that? Good.
Now make a list – 20, 50, 100, the sky is the limit- of things that you enjoy- hobbies, people, whatever. I like chocolate and gooey desserts and helping people. I like being handy and fixing things. I love technology. I also love peace, quiet and nature. I love sunsets, beautiful skies and full moons. Catch my drift? Good.
When we integrate more of the things that feel good, the things that we enjoy and the things that allow us to access those core values- THAT is when magic can start to happen. For real. Stay tuned for more tips on pursuing your passion and living the life of your dreams!
I would love to hear what your top 3 core values are- Share in the comments below!