When you leave school and enter the world of work, it isn’t long before ambition strikes. You get a taste of success – no matter how small – and decide you want more. And more. And more. And before you know it, you’re in your mid-40s and your life is dominated by work.
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I read a great blog post recently on how, without a good work-life balance, it is all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to earn too much.
That got me thinking. I recently made a pretty big leap by significant reducing my hours at a company I’ve been a director of for ten years. Doing so has enabled me to concentrate on my dream of writing for a living. And it’s working. Chasing pound notes – for as important as a good income is – is no longer the solitary aim.
There are some telltale signs that you’re trying to earn too much. If this all sounds uncomfortably close to your own life, it’s time to drop the pretences and ask some serious questions!
1. Tasks Are Stacking Up And Not Being Completed
If you’re the ambitious sort, you probably have the right task management apps and practices in place, but if they’re failing on a daily basis and your to-do list simply isn’t being tackled, you’re trying to do too much. The reason you’re not completing those tasks is because you either don’t have enough time or your heart isn’t really in them.
2. You’re Stressed When Not At Work
‘Never take your work home with you’ is perhaps one of the best pieces of advice available to us. There are plenty of tips out there for coping with stress at work , but if you find yourself just as stressed at home, you’re doing stuff for the wrong reason. A bit of stress is healthy, but if it is consistent, you’re probably pushing too hard and trying to bring home a pay cheque which simply isn’t worth it.
3. You’re Letting People Down
If a customer, colleague or manager has recently said to you ‘I’m not angry – I’m just disappointed’, you don’t need me to tell you that you’ve let them down in a big way. And I bet it wasn’t intentional. Just like that mountain of a to-do list, the thing you were supposed to do for them got lost in a week where you were constantly chasing your tail.
4. You’re Missing Opportunities
We often get so fixated with excelling in every area of working life that the simplest of opportunities can slip by unnoticed. Opportunities are time-bound, and if you’re missing them, you’re trying to do too much elsewhere.
5. The Big Contracts Just Aren’t Coming Through
A friend of mine entered the building trade by travelling around his local area fixing toilets, cabinets and all manner of other menial tasks most people would dismiss as being small fry. He is now a director of his own company and a multi-millionaire. Chasing the big stuff can be hugely counter intuitive and, if you focus on the small but equally as important jobs, you’ll actually have a greater chance of making it big.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful, but true success is in the eye of the beholder. Big salaries aren’t for everyone, due to the stress and significant responsibility they bring with them. Focus on the smaller ambitions, find something you love doing and – in the words of Steve Jobs – never settle.