Finding Balance Between Ambition and Lifestyle

What does success mean to you?

What does it look like?

If we turn our attention to Hollywood and movies like Wall Street, Boiler Room and the Wolf of Wall Street, even films like The Big Short, we are presented with a certain vision of what it means to be successful. These are all coming from the context of working within the financial market and industry in some fashion, but the fundamental principles can easily extend to other professions too.

We Got Ambition Though

We are shown that the successful person is driven by ambition. They have big lofty goals and they are driven by a burning desire to bring in as much cash as possible, typically in as short a period as possible. Indeed, contemporary society has come to fetishize the notion of “hustle.” We romanticize this view of people, particularly entrepreneurs, who put in the extra long hours in pursuit of their goals.

We’ve been told that if you chase these big dreams with enthusiastically intense fervor, if you truly love what you do, then you never have to work a day in your life. Except these are the same people who are putting in 80+ hour work weeks without necessarily showing the big results at the other end of the process. But they’re getting there, right? Even if they are stressed and extended beyond belief. Maybe they just need to take a quick afternoon nap.

This is the life for many professionals who launch or work at an Internet startup. The hours are long, but the visions are bold and the potential is limitless. Who doesn’t want to develop the next WhatsApp, only to turn around and sell it to Facebook for $19 billion? I don’t know about you, but heck I’d probably settle for just $1 billion like Instagram did.

There is nothing wrong with ambition, but ambition does come at a price. Be prepared to dedicate yourself fully to your endeavor. This means working hard, working long, and putting other aspects of your life at a lower priority. Your personal relationships might suffer. Your physical health might suffer. But it’ll all be worth it, right?

But Why Do You Do What You Do?

Now, let’s think about an utterly different conception of what success looks like. You’re soaking in the sun on a tropical beach, sipping on some brightly-colored slushy drink, maybe with a mini umbrella in it. Success is then represented by this life of leisure. Maybe you’re staying at a fancy, exclusive resort. Maybe you flew a private jet to get there. Maybe it’s your own private island.

What if we went humbler, much humbler than that? What if you were no longer bound to the restrictions of a typical 9-to-5 office job? What if you didn’t have to report to some manager you hate at a job your despise, fighting the traffic that abhor to get to a stuffy office you detest? What if you had the freedom to do what you wanted, when you wanted? What if you could have a three-hour brunch on a Wednesday with your family, happily enjoying that eggs benedict at the local bistro?

The “hustle” mindset is diametrically opposed to this perspective. For many of us, this calmer and more relaxed approach to life seems much more appealing. We still have to work, but perhaps we only have to work a couple hours a day to maintain an online business that largely runs itself. Maybe we don’t earn six figures a month, but we earn enough to sustain a comfortable lifestyle in a good part of town. Maybe we can cut ourselves some slack.

A Better Way Forward?

Life consists of a series of choices and trade-offs. By developing passive income streams that continue to earn money while you sleep (and eat brunch), you can unlock such opportunities without really earning all that much actual cash. And you don’t have to drive yourself mad with 80+ hour work weeks either.

How will you balance your unwavering ambition with your overwhelming desire to just relax and enjoy life?

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5 thoughts on “Finding Balance Between Ambition and Lifestyle”

  1. Hi Michael,

    For me, it is all about freedom. Like, in all I do, and in all I am being, it is freedom, and fun. Those are my intents.

    The Wolf of Wall Street guys and Gordon Gekko did not seek freedom. They were ruled by ambition, so they became bound to 80 hour work weeks to get stuff that they became attached to, creating greater suffering. Like all fear-based drivers, the worldly success they created only created a deeper void that needed filling with more stuff, moving them into more fear-based actions, greediness, problems, etc, legal problems, etc. An endless cycle of chaos, really.

    I love doing what I do. Sure I put in time and energy but the stuff I am doing is fun and freeing to me. I do not feel like I need to fill some void. Quite the opposite.I feel pretty whole and complete, whatever seems borne of my work today. This is what the heart-centered entrepreneur learns quickly; if you make your day and life and business mainly about doing what you love, and trying that into designing a life of freedom for you and your customers, by devoting yourself to service, not only will you enjoy the ride and dissolve ambition, you will experience greater and greater success with less effort, and with more play, and with like, zero work.

    In the West we are conditioned with images of hard hard. When I lived in Vietnam for 2 months, I would watch huge water buffalo work hard all day long. They are water buffalo, trained to do back-busting work. Why would a human being with a consciousness work like a buffalo working the fields. It seems insane to me. Yet folks from all walks of life put zero thought into following their fun and rendering useful service, and put in 80 plus hours a week to make big chedda, totally skipping out on freedom, and working themselves as mindlessly as the water buffaloes. This is insane to me.

    Instead, do as I do. Follow your passion. Learn your niche inside-out. Have fun helping people. The work becomes the reward, you feel whole and complete, all business and life success feels like extra, you will be incredibly persistent, you will raise your energy, and you will be freer by the day, never being bound by the nightmarish attachment of ambition that binds some of the wealthiest but most fearful entrepreneurs on earth, who work on a competitive, not creative, plane.

    Cool post bro. Happy New Year!

    Ryan

  2. This the life of many professionals who launch or work at a startup interest.

  3. Susan Velez says:

    Hi Michael,

    You’re so right, I have friends who go to a work and put in long hours because they make good money. But at the end of the day and on the weekends, they complain about their jobs.

    I used to be one of those people. Now I spend my days freelancing for clients from the comfort of my home. Although, I now understand that all I did was create a job for myself.

    I am working hard on building up some passive income streams. As I get older, I realize the importance of having passive income streams so you can do what you want and not have to worry about where the money is going to come from.

    It takes a lot of work on the front end before you start to see any money. However, as long as you know what you want to accomplish and are willing to put in the hard work, I have no doubt that anyone can do it.

    I love working on my blog a lot more than I do freelancing. It is a lot of hard work, but I just keep putting one foot in front of the other until I reach my goals.

    This is such an eye-opening post and I’ll be sure to pass it along.

    Have a great one 🙂

    Susan

  4. Suleman says:

    I have a full-time job and I like to do blogging too. I also go to the gym because I like to exercise managing a strict timetable is very difficult but you need good family support to achieve this.

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