Across the US, many individuals spend years of their lives working at dissatisfying jobs. They tell themselves lies about why they need to stay put--the benefits are too good, the pay is too high, and the job market is too unstable. They continue to live their lives within the confines of the weekends, the only moments they can enjoy themselves.

Other people are more fortunate. They have found jobs that they enjoy, which motivates them to work harder and harder. These individuals are inspired to seek professional growth opportunities and frequently climb up the ladder quickly--standing out from their unmotivated peers. They not only enjoy the work that they do, they also want to get better at it.

Unfortunately, even the individuals that enjoy their jobs often find themselves falling short of the life they envisioned. Other areas of their lives suffer, with relationships often taking the biggest hit. And how could they not? Relationships take sacrifices and time to maintain and improve. It's difficult to balance a plethora of aspirational professional goals with the effort necessary to sustain healthy relationships.

While most people tend to fall into one category or the other, many fail to realize the similarity between each group.

The biggest problem with both groups of people is that neither know how to live a balanced, holistic life. The first work at a job they despise as little more than means to an end, while the other is ablaze with job-related passion, but neither are able to feel fully alive and engaged with all aspects of their lives. Both have to allow parts of themselves to dry and deaden.

Like a snake sheds its skin, both sets of people are forced to leave behind far too much of life's most valuable asset--time.

The first group wastes valuable time being unhappy in a job that they attend multiple days each week. The second group feels engaged and challenged at work, but then leaves to find a whole mess of relationships, friendships, and live events that they've missed out on or allowed to leave their lives because they were so focused on professional growth.

Both groups need to realize the truth about modern life. The first group needs to understand that they are choosing to be unhappy, and they must deal with the consequences of those choices. There are always other options, no matter how unappealing. If you can't change your circumstances, then you need to hold yourself responsible for changing your mindset.

The second group (yes, I'm talking to you) needs to know this:

Professional development without personal growth is a life devoid of meaning and happiness devoid of depth.

When you seek to grow as a professional without addressing the most important variable--yourself--then you're setting yourself up for failure. Unhappiness finds its way to people when they aren't invested in improving who they are and interested in learning more about themselves.

If you sitting in a job you don't like to make money that you can spend on the weekend, there's nothing innately wrong with that. The only problem is you're wasting time being miserable, which means that you aren't truly valuing yourself.

If all you care about is improving your job performance so that you can acquire more money and titles, there's nothing inherently wrong with that. Who doesn't enjoy a promotion and some extra cash? The problem is that intention matters, and no matter how many titles you earn and money you acquire, external circumstances won't change who you are.

People fail to realize that you are your most valuable asset. When you seek professional goals without also working on personal challenges, then no matter what you acquire, it won't bring lasting happiness. You will meet and surpass the professional goals that you set for yourself, but you won't feel a deep sense of fulfillment--you'll only feel fear and inadequacy. You'll feel starved to achieve something more, something even bigger than before, and then you'll get to the end of your life realizing that you missed it.

You'll come to see that your pleasures were superficial. Your focus on the peak prevented you from enjoying the climb.

Don't allow yourself to become a robot that only cares about the goals society tells you are important. Whether you feel stuck in a job that you don't like or are too focused on professional goals rather than personal development, you need to start taking your time and yourself seriously.

You only have one life--go make the best of it.

Published on: Apr 4, 2017