Although a six-figure salary doesn't carry the same cachet it once did, it's still a sign of status and success. During my corporate career and now in my work as a coach, I've observed so many who have worked their butts off trying to achieve a six-figure income. In the process, many of these same people made significant sacrifices in their life outside of work.
I was one of them.
For most of my career, there were two things that I focused on: more money and more power. As I climbed the corporate ladder, those were the main filters I used to make decisions about which projects I worked hard on and which new opportunities I pursued.
That led me to make several poor career and life choices.
Here are four reasons my six-figure job led to my unhappy life, and a mindset change that will help you avoid making these same mistakes.
1. I expected money to make me happy
No matter how much money I made, it was never enough. Breaking the six-figure barrier only made me want to make more. I pushed myself to the point that I was miserable. I hated my job so much that just thinking about work made me feel like throwing up before I even crawled out of bed.
New Mindset: Money is not a long-term source of happiness. Figure out what's REALLY most important in your life, and let that be your filter in determining how you earn and spend your money.
2. My priorities were messed up
To make more money, I took a position that had me traveling more than 60 percent of the time. After my son was born in 2009, I continued this extensive travel schedule. As much as I tried, FaceTime wasn't a replacement for being there in person. I also worked long hours, often late into the night. Even when I wasn't working, I was physically present but mentally and emotionally "checked out."
New Mindset: Fatherhood is the ultimate priority. Absent fathers are not just those who live apart from their children. There are many fathers who live at home, but who are so wrapped up in their work that they are emotionally unavailable. There isn't enough focus and dialogue on this epidemic of at-home but absent fathers. This needs to change.
3. I abused my body
I worked with colleagues and business partners all over Europe and Asia, and because I live in California, I often worked past midnight. I drank energy drinks to stay awake and took prescription medication to sleep. All of the travel and late nights led to unhealthy eating habits. When I wasn't traveling, I was sitting at my computer an average of 12 hours per day. I developed chronic back pain that I treated with more prescription medications. When that didn't work, I turned to alcohol. I became a barely functioning alcoholic.
New Mindset: Never underestimate the importance of your health. No matter how demanding your job might be, you have to set boundaries and make time to take care of yourself. It's easy to lose sight of that when money and power are your top priority. I'm still recovering from the abuse I put myself through.
4. Misery at work bled over to my personal life
Like so many who hate their jobs, I knew I needed a change. But instead of taking action and enjoying life, I settled for a life of mediocrity. As this misery bled over into my personal life, it affected me mentally and emotionally. My relationship with my wife and son suffered, and I abandoned the few close friendships I had.
New Mindset: If the situation is that bad at work, change your circumstances. If you can't change your circumstances, change your attitude. The stress alone that comes from being miserable at work has damaging effects on your health and psyche. Throw in poor sleep and lack of exercise, and it's no wonder that your personal life and relationships suffer. Either you take action and get yourself out of the job that is making you miserable, or you change your attitude and find reasons to appreciate and enjoy the job you have.
It bothers me to see so many people making many of the same mistakes I've made. I share my story because I finally realized that life is too short to settle for a job you hate and a life that is less than you deserve.
I hope this article helps you think differently about the life you want, and more importantly that it inspires you to take action to experience the life that you deserve.