Is your career-racing habit your worst ever investment?
Ages ago, with monies kindly received from my grandma, I put €25 to a savings account. Years later I went back to the bank and added another €45 to that account. Half a century later, I went back to the bank to withdraw these monies. With a mischievous smile, the bank manager returned me a meagre €10. That was all that was left after decades of inflation. That was it; €10! And no; it wasn’t a bank in Cyprus; or in Greece, Portugal, Ireland or so on.
So for the analists amongst us, a half a century investment of €70 returned us a miserable €10. That doesn’t look to be a smart deal.
And for the rat-racers amongst us, I start to wonder if our career chasing behaviour is a real good investment. And what the returns are for your massive inputs, efforts and hardship? I just wonder if the maths of our career investment works out; financially and psychologically? As there is a kind of a comparison here with the above; isn’t there?
In general we massively invest in our future through learning –at school- and personal development in the early stage of our lives. Many of us study very hard and graduate around the age of 25. That stage in life is then completed with a further investment of 45 years of hard working. Those 45 years, we rat-racers, we give everything to enhance our company’s sustainable shareholder value. We work day and night and travel all around the world to ensure our products and services are on time and at the highest possible price with the customer. We even lock ourselves away for days –and weekends- at leadership development boot camps. And we spend most of our evenings on networking events or on preparing for tomorrow’s meeting. And Sunday evenings are reserved for further networking activities on LinkedIn. And for prep work for next week.
And we love –we think- this way of living. Even if we had little time over the last 45 years to really enjoy life. Even if we missed our son’s graduation at school. We also missed the birth of a first grandchild as we were on a business trip in China. And we are so happy that our partners helped our kids to get through the difficult stages of puberty; because we of course had no time for that. Nor did you ever find time to visit your neighbour in hospital; you know the one who is taking care of your garden.
And at the end of that amazing and oh so financially rewarding (perhaps) career journey, we start to make plans on filling our retirement days. Because yes, one day we arrive at that stage in life. Generally that is at the age of 70; in any case it will be around that age in the near future now that many governments are considering to move the retirement age towards 70.
The third stage. The final stage.
Then comes a third stage in life; and I’ll be brief on it -as it is short. With life expectancy figures in the developed Western world averaging at 80, you have exactly another 10 years to go after retirement. That makes that your investment of 25 years hard learning and 45 years hard working, results in a return of 10 years –hopefully- happy and healthy life. That doesn’t sound to be the best investment ever. 25+45=10?
So you may consider to bring some forms of enjoyment a bit forward and to bring these to the ‘now’. Today. Heute. Hoy. Aujourd’hui. Now is the time to contribute to your own enjoyment; to do those things that drive your happiness. And that doesn’t need to be at the detriment of your professional performance; not at all. Just spend some time on making plans to balance today the needs of both worlds. In fact, there aren’t two worlds; there is just one world, one life, your life. And spend your monies; don’t wait for the banker to return you €10. And do this all now, rather than wasting your time on making plans on how to spend your last €10; your last 10 years.
You’ll benefit from it. Same for your business. For your family. For the entire world. Live today; don’t live for tomorrow. Or in figures: 25+45=80. Today. Heute. Hoy. Aujourd’hui.