Life Advice: When the Cost of Success is Too High

Businesswoman on bridge

As you all know, I’m a big believer in going after what you want. You deserve to be the best you can be, and you should do whatever you can to make that possible. However, sometimes when pursuing your goals, one can go too far and cause damage to others in the process. Or damage to yourself. How do you know when you have crossed a line? How far is too far?

While Making Your Life Better, You Make Someone Else’s Life Worse

There are always going to be winners and losers in life. When you get a promotion, someone else is not going to end up with the job. When you end up engaged or married to someone, others who may have hoped to spend their lives with that same special person now have to find someone else. These are normal situations, and we all have to learn how to win gracefully, and lose without losing our mojo so that we can move on to our next challenge.

But some people go beyond the actions required to attain their goals, and crossover into making others feel horrible. It’s as though winning isn’t enough for them – they don’t really feel that they’ve succeeded unless they make everyone else feel lousy about themselves in the process. While this mindset may seem to benefit someone in the short term, eventually, it can backfire because they will develop a reputation of being difficult to work with. And you never know when an intern will become the boss. It’s a very small world, and it’s best to treat everyone as well as possible. People can understand the actions required by natural competition, but when it seems to crossover into unnecessary hurtful behavior, it can be much harder to forgive and forget. And that can cost you a job or a client down the line.

Inaction Can Be A Stronger Choice

When trying to maximize your success or happiness, conventional wisdom suggests that you should be making active choices. But as Paul Hudson wrote on a blog post on Elite Daily, “It’s not always the things we do that make the biggest difference in our lives; it’s often the things we avoid doing that have the biggest effect. As human beings, we have a strong aversion to not doing; we feel that in order to produce results, there must be an initial action.” When the cost of those actions can inflict damage to others, that’s the time to investigate whether there may be another route to attaining our goals.

You Sacrifice Your Personal Life

At the beginning of your career, it can be tempting to work to the extreme, spending as much time at the office as possible. We live in a culture that rewards how busy we all are, how many hours we spend at our jobs and how much multi-tasking we can accomplish. And while some people thrive on chaos (I can plead guilty to this one), you are the only one who can take responsibility for the lifestyle you choose. If you find yourself sacrificing friendships, family time or sleep, take a look at the career you have chosen and really ask yourself if it’s worth it. If you find yourself being short or sarcastic with people, constantly stressing, or ignoring the person in front of you in favor of your electronic gadgets, these can all be signs that you need a bit more time for yourself and your relationships.

Do an analysis of your time and see if you are pulling long hours just so you can SAY you are pulling long hours, or if there’s a way to become more efficient. Invest in yourself by doing some long term planning. Will your work always require this much personal sacrifice, or will there be a time when your schedule will allow for more flexibility once you are more established?

Stay on the Right Side of the Law

It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that if you have to break a law to get what you want, there’s either a better way to get it or it’s not worth having.

I wish you all the success in the world…and encourage you to find the most positive, life-affirming ways to go about achieving it!