As high achievers, we are extremely focused and we thrive on winning and success. When I was preparing for my Master’s program admission, it was the only thing I did, all day and night, for 5 months. When I was working on creating a bank loan software, I was totally immersed in it for a year. When I work on a project, it is the only thing that matters to me. Everything is great when things are going great. The progress of our plans, the sight of our goals, and the immediate payoff give us that adrenalin rush. We talk ourselves into compromising all other things around us, including our relationships, health, recreation, and social circles.
In his book, “How Will You Measure Your Life,” author Clayton Christensen explains that this quest for finding happiness and meaning in life is not new to human beings. And, as high achievers, it is easy for us to focus on trying to over-satisfy the tangible trappings of professional success, thinking that it will make us happy. As high achievers, it is hard to separate us from our achievements and goals. The upward spiral of success that we experience makes us derive our self-worth from external projects and achievements – the better salaries, the nicer offices, the grandeur titles, etc…
As Clayton adds, “They are, after all, what our friends and family see as signs that we have ‘made it’ professionally.” High achievers take this to heart. This ‘elusive’ professional success becomes the one thing that becomes our everything. As high achievers, we are wired with a high need for achievement.
Don’t get me wrong here. Success is great after all, but significance is even better. Success without significance is a hopeless quest. So start asking yourself a different set of questions:
… What do I really stand for? What are my core values and principles?
… What are my non-negotiables – the things and experiences – that I will never compromise in my life at all
… What will happen if I go after this <project/outcome/responsibility/assignment/role/hustle>?
… What will happen if I don’t go after this <project/outcome/responsibility/assignment/role/hustle>?
… What will not happen if I don’t go after this <project/outcome/responsibility/assignment/role/hustle>?
… What will not happen (or stop happening) if I go after this
The core values and principles you have, and the non-negotiables you create for yourself in the areas of your relationships, health, recreation, and social circles are going to be the most important sources of happiness in your life. These areas may not make the most noise in your life at the moment, and so it may be tempting to put your investments (of time, energy, and focus) in these areas on the back burner. But remember that these areas need consistent attention and care. The clock is ticking from the start.