Last weekend I loaded up the family and we took a long drive around town looking for a new neighborhood to move in to.  I wanted them to see that there are almost endless possibilities of areas we could live in Atlanta.  It was an enjoyable trip until a spilled sippy cup of apple juice drove most of the car into tears and we were racing to get home to escape the hysterics. 

That night, after the kids were asleep, I confided in my spouse that I thought the trip was a disaster because we didn’t get to all the places I had in mind, we didn’t spend enough time at each community, and we didn’t bring a backup sippy cup!  She disagreed, and after talking through the highlights of our trip, I too realized it wasn’t disastrous at all.  We saw six great communities, two different downtowns, a horse farm, we bought a pie, and we spent almost three peaceful hours together as a family.  It’s amazing how two people trapped in the same car, with the same screaming baby, eating the same delicious pie could have such different, but still valid, viewpoints on the same trip. 

And this lesson got me thinking, are there other areas in my life where I am lacking a crystal clear definition of success?  Are there other areas where I have too narrow a definition and I am actually doing better than I think?  The answer is yes.  Well, let’s fix that!  And let’s start with the thing that takes up a majority of our life – let’s talk about career success – how do you reframe what are you doing to reach it?  There are different measurements we use to define career success and often one key driving force is financial success. The more we make, the more successful we must be! But is that really true?

We all have a relationship with money, but I believe the success of a few of the most popular programs on the market shows that we are vastly overestimating the amount of money and material goods that we actually need to live the life we want to live.

Look at Dave Ramsey’s “Zero-Based Budget” program.  He shows us that every dollar has its purpose and to be sure to put each of them to work.  His program boils down to – live within your means by starting a small emergency fund, paying down your debts, saving for your future, saving for your kids’ futures, and then helping others.  

Then examine Marie Kondo’s objects that “Bring You Joy” de-cluttering empire.  In her program she has homeowners go through each of the rooms in their house and place room contents into a big pile.  You pick up each object, think about if it brings you joy or not, and if it doesn’t you thank it and put it in a pile for Goodwill or the dump. 

If both these programs show you how to do more with less, then why are we defining career success with how much we make?  Instead, what if we reframed our career success around how much happiness and joy it brings to us?


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