The author Po Bronson, in his book, What Should I Do with My Life?, observed that he had met many people who had tried to live their lives by this equation:
Dream… Lock Box… F&%k-You Money… Lock Box… Dream.
He observed a number of problems with this formula. First, most people never actually get to the FY money, and so arrive at the later stage of life having neither lived in connection to their dreams or finding the freedom they thought would come through financial success. Second, the process of living life that way changes a person, so that usually they became so distanced from their core desires that they couldn’t really go back there even if they were one of the few who made the fortune they envisioned. Furthermore, going “back” to one’s dream later is an entirely different experience than living that dream, pursuing what feels most central to one’s core sense of purpose and struggling through all the bumps, bruises, breakthroughs and victorious arrivals along the way. It turns out that the journey itself is as much a part of someone “living their dream” as the goal that is usually identified as the “dream”.
Add to this reality the fact that the almost universal death-bed testimony of “successful” people is that if they could change one thing it would be that they would not have let the pursuit of their career get in the way of cultivating important personal relationships, especially family.
The answer to the question “Why should I prioritize personal relationships over my career?” may seems obvious when time is taken to actually reflect about these matters: a satisfactory life will be largely determined by the quality of one’s relationships. But the fact is a great many of us simply feel too busy, distracted, and overwhelmed with the pressures of life to make cultivating personal relationships our priority. We also might feel more competent in our work than in the messy business of growing and attending to the unpredictable nature of deep, involved relationships. In my next blog I will begin to explore some strategies to help transition our focus to set the table for a more satisfying set of priorities.