Finding Your Oasis
In my neighborhood there is a wonderful small pub nestled on the corner right across the street from the only commercial shop in town, the General Store. It has an old-world feel about it and is a favorite haunt of many of the area’s top CEOs, hedge fund managers, attorneys, doctors and dentists, etc. It’s definitely a hidden gem, “where everyone knows your name,” and in the confines of this small space, the conversation can get pretty interesting.
On one recent evening, we had stopped in for a bite to eat and got to chatting with the usual suspects. One gentleman, nearing retirement, who had been traveling from our sleepy little community to New York City’s financial district for work every day proclaimed, “I arrived at the top of this mountain called my career, I looked over to the other side and saw there is absolutely nothing there.”
Many days later, his statement still haunts me … “absolutely nothing there.” Wow, for a man in his ʼ60s (who is by most standards wildly successful) to exclaim this publicly, was sobering. He must have been doing a great deal of internal searching and found his efforts to have lacked substantially in terms of personal growth and meaning.
While gauging success on money is a clear cut measuring stick, perhaps it is not the only criteria worth measuring? Princeton professors Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton, conducted a study that revealed money does indeed make us happy, but only up to a certain point. They concluded that maximum money happiness occurred up to $75,000; beyond that, the effect of money stabilized and did not impact happiness either way.
So how do we find happiness and meaning in what we do if cash isn’t the answer? This will depend greatly on what drives each one of us to fulfillment. Perhaps it could be mentoring a younger protégé in the office, developing a volunteer or foundation within your work organization or starting a team within your office to run a 5k for charity. Building relationships and working on a goal that is bigger than “the daily grind” can definitely help. All of these types of activities can re-inspire you and breathe new energy into your work life. A little burst of energy may be the kickstart needed to call your next client, reach your sales goals and ensure that an oasis awaits on the other side of the mountain.