As I watched my youngest daughter graduate from high school, I couldn’t help but notice the excitement in her eyes and the eyes of her 240 fellow graduates. Some of them are probably relieved school is over, while others look forward to the next phase of their educations.
Whatever path these young people choose, some will become consumed by work and business.
But others will strike a balance between life and work, either intentionally or by accident.
This second group is likely to experience more happiness and success — along with less regret.
Consider the second most frequently cited regret people express at their end of their lives:
“I wish I hadn’t worked so much.”
Given all the things people could possibly regret when looking back on their lives, this is an extraordinarily powerful and telling statement. This potential reality from the end of life confirms the wisdom in taking a different and more mindful approach to work and business, no matter your age.
The people who expressed this deep-seated regret acknowledged spending too much of their time on the treadmill of their work while sacrificing valuable time with their spouses, children, extended family, friends and even themselves. Some allowed their personal dreams and lifetime adventures outside of success to pass them by.
The profound truth is that once they’re gone, these moments and experiences can never be recaptured.
There’s a common and prevailing mantra in business about making as much money as you possibly can, about becoming successful at all cost.
There’s no doubt profitability and competitiveness constitute primary objectives in business.
The question is, at what cost?
Business owners focused on making as much money as possible typically expect team members to have the same focus. In forgetting these people have lives, hopes, dreams and desires, too, these owners demand more and more. When the focus is solely on success and the accumulation of wealth, people, their happiness and well-being are discounted.
The prospect of becoming wildly successful financially — along with all the accolades that come with it — can be addicting because it feeds the ego. As with any addiction, it can take over and obstruct the bigger picture of life and all it has to offer. When this happens, it creates a situation in which we’re out of balance, ultimately limiting the very happiness and success for which we strive.
One aspect of my work with business owners is to help them see the bigger picture of their lives, to discover within themselves what they value and whether what they sacrifice in their pursuits of success is truly acceptable.
As my clients develop their skills at balancing life and work, they begin to make different choices in how they allocate their time. They come to experience a more profound form of success — one that still includes financial gains (often more than ever before), but isn’t a driving force in their lives. There’s a trickledown effect for their team members as their life and work balance is encouraged and supported.
It’s important to understand that once your children have grown, your youth has faded and your health has deteriorated, the dreams you abandoned in the pursuit of success and money can’t be recaptured.
That time has passed forever.
We all know people who worked their whole lives to make enough money to travel and enjoy the other pleasures of life only to discover that by the time they “arrived,” they were unable to do so because they waited too long.
Your life is happening right now.
And there’s room within it for everything you desire — not only making money, but also enjoying the multitude of other things that bring you happiness and pleasure.
Once you’re mindful about your life and your work and have the skills in place to create vital balance, you won’t have to work so hard to experience the happiness and success you want.
And at the end of your life, you won’t regret having worked too much.
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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper. Access the article here.