I confess, I haven’t been walking my talk. At least not 100%
Here’s the thing: my ambition got the best of me. Rather, the external facing part of my ambition got the better of me (more on this later).
While I gained massive strides in 2018 and did more in my career than I thought possible, it came with a lot of heartache, negative self talk, and frankly less time to be present with my family.
It sounds weird considering I worked part-time hours right?
Tunnel Vision Made Me Do It
As some of you may know (go listen to the podcast to hear me baring my soul almost every episode, ha!), I put a lot of pressure on myself to reach a six figure income last year. The number represented a lot of life changes my husband and I wanted to make. As a type-A and totally driven person, I had a plan. There were lots of stressful days and I juggled taking care of my young son, writing and taking care of household tasks.
As my income climbed higher and higher, I was glued to my phone or my laptop most days. There was this pervasive fear I won’t reach my destination, that I needed more.
Then I started reading FIRE (financial independence/retire early) blogs. I got caught in the trap of earning a crap ton of money in a short amount of time so I could be on the track to early retirement.
So I worked longer hours.
Which bled into weekends.
Which led me to justifying why it was ok to forego quality time with friends and family for the sake of work.
Here’s the brutal truth — earning more and creating this flexible lifestyle was great, but I wasn’t fully taking advantage of it. I was so caught up comparing myself to others that I forgot to *gasp* look at my lifestyle and how money played into that.
Not sure how it happened, but I landed back at Jillian’s blog Montana Money Adventures and reread her story of how she became financially independent. Here’s someone who never earned six figures and managed to create this very intentional lifestyle with her family. Her and her husband are essentially retired from the traditional work force and travel and work on passion projects that make money.
As I was mulling on how she is very intentional with her life, I ran into a neighbor at my apartment complex getting the mail. She and I chatted and was surprised to see me out. She then invited me to play with all the other kids at my son’s preschool at the playground nearby.
Y’all, I lived at this place for almost a full year and never realized there was a play group, and I’ve been complaining to my husband that I never see kids around our complex!
So I grabbed my kiddo and went to the playground. He ran, high fived kids and laughed for a good solid hour. And I felt sheepish that I was so concerned with typing away on my laptop everyday around this time because I thought the best thing for my family was to work harder.
I realized I lost my way when it came to looking at my life and finding a way to work money into it, not the other way around.
My ambition — this obsession with making more money — didn’t feel right anymore.
Shifting My Mindset
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with earning more money (and I still want to earn more), but the way I was approaching it was leading me down a dark path. Jillian talks a lot about eliminating everything you don’t value, and for the most part I have.
What I didn’t realize was that I had to eliminate my assumptions about what ambition means. Instead of earning more for the sake of earning more, I looked within.
I want to spend all day making origami animals for the pure joy of it.
I want to spend more time with my husband and cracking jokes like we love to do.
Whatever our goals are, I think we get caught in this idea of control and hyper focused action we forget that we need to see the end goal. Earning more money and having a more flexible lifestyle is a goal I still strive for, but it’s an intermediate goal. My end goal is to cultivate better relationships in my life and to make time for creative pursuits.
If all I’m thinking is more money and more time, I’m missing the point.
I encourage you to think of ambition differently.
Is there a way to balance outward success with inward success?
Are you walking your talk when it comes to your deepest desires?
Do you look around you to see the consequences of your actions?
By all means, think about money, it’s still important. But think about your life and use money as it’s meant to be — as a tool.
Take it from me. It’s a never ending process. Even I forget to constantly assess where I’m going and what I really want.
As for my ambition? It’s become more looking inwards and continuing to redefine my version of a good life, whether I earn multiple six figures or not.
Being a badass with your money is as easy as asking yourself what you want.
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Latest posts by Sarah Li Cain (see all)
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- What’s The True Price of Ambition? - February 16, 2019