As a young man, much of my identity was intertwined with my profession. My ability to achieve professional goals was paramount to how I felt about myself. Yes, there was the occasional girlfriend, good deed, or great trip, but generally my work was my life. This value was reinforced by living in New York, where “What do you do?” kicked off ninety percent of my conversations.
Eventually I realized that my concept of success did not have to be determined by the superficial values of popular culture, but instead depended on how I personally defined success. While this was an eye-opening moment that helped me align my goals and values, it did not free me from the deep connection between the achievement of those goals and my self-worth.
I still very much felt that I am what I do.
Fast-forward to the past few months, when I have felt notably more peaceful and balanced in my everyday life. Thanks in part to a conversation with my friend Dave Spector a few days ago, I believe I have begun to uncover why.
My evolution began when I married my wife. For the first time there was something I truly cared about more than myself. Then my kids were born and my priorities completely shifted. Nothing could be more important than them. Eventually I realized I had to do a better job of taking care of myself and improving my quality of life, so I started investing more energy in wellness, spirituality, and how I live.
All of these experiences and many more led me to begin writing this newsletter and release my book (click here to check it out). What is my point? My ego has been diversified. My self-worth is now determined by multiple factors, not just one.
Let me explain.
Imagine your life as a stove with many burners.
One burner represents your profession.
Another represents love and family.
A third represents your wellness and quality of life.
Another one represents friendships.
Each of these burners can be set from one to ten, with ten signaling that all is going amazingly well and one representing everything going awry.
When your ego is riding on only one burner—your profession, for example—and things are not going well, you will be devastated. But when your ego is linked to multiple burners—your profession, marriage, kids, friends, wellness, a hobby or passion project—you can always adjust your energy source and balance how you feel. This is not something you can just wake up one day and do. It is a long-term goal that requires you to cultivate a holistic existence. The more energy you invest in each source, the greater your returns will be over time.