Do you ever look at a colleague or a friend and think, “I wish I had their life.” Or “I wish I had their money.” I know, I have. Growing up in a tony neighborhood in Mumbai, I studied in a school that had kids coming from very rich homes. Think owning multiple cars in the 80s.
I was the daughter of a bureaucrat and commuted to school in a public bus. Yes, there were times when I wondered what it would be like living in those big homes (correction I lived in big government-provided homes in the best addresses in South Mumbai but you get what I mean) and having swanky cars.
Just sometimes. Most other times, I knew they wanted to be in my shoes. I was the class topper and the teachers’ pet.
The grass is always greener on the other side.
How many of us see the success of someone and feel envious? Oh, what we wouldn’t give to be like them? It is so easy to want to be in someone else’s shoes. What we don’t realize is that money is just a means to an end. When our life becomes about making money an end, there begins the trouble.
Being happy and being rich are two different things and not necessarily related to each other.
Are you shaking your head?
Let me share an experience.
There was a time in my life, when I had a toddler son and struggled with a full-time career and home. Life was tough. There were days when I did not wish to get up in the morning. As I usually left home earlier than the husband, most days I left behind a wailing toddler. Bone-tired when back, I had to head out again to get the son back from the crèche. I went on in this manner for many months. My life was on auto pilot. I hardly enjoyed life. I just lived it. Struggled would be a more appropriate word.
Why? I was ambitious for one. Success in life was having a designation next to my name and money in my bank account. Success was also about the perceptions of others about me. So, I had to be a career woman. Only looking after home and family for a well-qualified woman like me was beneath me.
And then came a turning point in my life. The husband had a 3-month project in a European country. There was no way I could get that much leave, but I negotiated for a leave of about a month. I was looking forward to getting away.
That one month in Amsterdam was the best time in my life. I was stress-free and enjoying myself. My son and husband were the happiest I had seen them in a while. All because we had time for each other.
That hole in my heart due to the guilt and stress I lived with on a daily basis had vanished. Wasn’t this how life was meant to be lived? Not as a struggle to make money at all cost. But to be enjoyed, with family. Whose parameters were I living my life on? And why?
I took pen and paper and actually made a list of my life’s mission. What were my priorities? What did I want from life? Surprisingly money came way down in the list. Writing it down cleared my head. I made one list, scratched it, made another one, till I was happy with what I had written. That helped me reach a very important decision.
I came back and put in my papers. Just like that. Without another thought.
It was one of the best decisions of my life.
I moved on to better avenues professionally later, but this time with better work-life balance. I have worked as a consultant for many years now. On my own terms. Enjoying what I do. But never again making money as a measure of my happiness. Other more important parameters are my yardsticks for success and happiness.
Sure money is important for comfort, but it does not give you happiness. If that were true, we wouldn’t see so many people leaving plum jobs to pursue their dreams.
The day you look inward and treat yourself as your only competition, your life would have taken a turn for the better. True happiness is the pursuit of our life, not money.
Do share your thoughts on success versus money.
Pic courtesy: Jason Stitt on Shutterstock