How often have you heard that phrase over the course of your life? I know that I have heard it numerous times. Usually when we have lost a client, or perhaps dented the car (shhh, don't tell my husband!). But is it true or are we just kidding ourselves?
When I look back on my life, we have enjoyed the big cars, the posh caravans, the luxury holidays and the big house, but was I any happier than I am now? I think the answer to that one is no. Isn't it ironic that when you can afford the finer things in life, you are so busy making money to pay for them that you rarely get time to enjoy them, and so the cycle begins?
There has been a shift in society
In my day (blimey, that makes me sound old!), you were given a pat on the back for working all the hours god sends. There was a sense of success if you drove around in an expensive car, or went on luxury holidays and people respected you by saying “you worked hard to get that!”. Times are changing. A bit like smoking – once upon a time it was a cool thing to do and now it is seen as antisocial. Working silly hours will soon follow that trend (in my opinion)
Simon Sinek Explains it Better Than Me
If you have watched the interview that broke the internet then you will know that Simon Sinek describes it much better than me. He goes on to explain that millennials are not motivated by money, they favour things such as flexible working, job satisfaction and bean bags at work! (If you know someone who has a teenager then please show them this video as it certainly changed my way of thinking and the way in which I communicated with my then 15-year-old daughter).
Focusing on money was a regret of mine (sort of).
I set up my first business (a recruitment agency) when my daughter was just 12 months old. I naively thought that being self-employed would give me the flexibility to not only earn a lot more money than I ever could working for another company, but I would also be my own boss and take days off as and when I wanted… I'm laughing at that last line as I type! For those of you who run a recruitment agency, you will appreciate the need to leave the house at 5.30am to check in staff, the constant phone calls (including ones in the middle of the night) when temps failed to turn up for work, and living in the business 24/7. The family came second, and it was not until we sold the business eleven years later that I realised how much of my daughter's life I had missed out on. Yes, she had all the material things that she would ever need or want, but there was something missing in her life and that was her mum.
A special relationship with my daughter
If you follow me on social media then you will know that there is a happy ending to this story and Rachel and I have a very strong relationship now. She turned 16 in August this year, and I would consider her my best friend. We have trekked across Spain together, we spend every evening talking about our day. Someone once said that the way kids spell LOVE is T-I-M-E. Spending time (quality time) with your children is so much more rewarding than anything money can buy.
Having walked the Camino for five weeks, living only on a budget of €35 a day, and wearing two sets of clothes (but three pairs of knickers!), you get to appreciate people, and you see the true meaning of life.
Happiness is gained by working hard but in a clever way!
I found that the true path to happiness is certainly not being skint, but to simply use your time wisely. Being productive at work by having a strict time management process (try David Allen's – Getting Work Done book) and work through projects in an organised way (allocate time to Deep Work – brilliant book by Cal Newport). Start habits such as an evening walk with your family to talk about your day, or perhaps whilst having your evening meal talk about your “three good things” that happened today. I know it's not for everyone, but I enjoy journaling. I find that this helps my mind focus on the important things in life. My daily journal takes ten minutes, and consists of the following format:
Morning 5 min journal
- What is on the agenda today and how do I feel about it?
- Three things to be grateful for
- A daily affirmation – I use an app to help with this otherwise it feels unnatural.
Evening 5 min journal
- A reflection on my day
- Three good things about today (even on the bad days there are always good things to focus on).
A few apps and products to help with all of the above.
- Coachme.com – a great app to help you develop new habits
- 5 Minute Journal – here.
- FocusAtWill – I use this app every time I sit down to write something that requires a long period of concentration.
- Lots of books – see my recommendations here.
They say that “money isn't everything”, but let's be honest, it certainly makes life a lot more interesting. The lesson that I learned from the last twenty years of being self-employed is that you need to learn what your pivot point is. How much is enough for you to be comfortable in life without compromising your health or your family? I truly believe that I was on the verge of becoming too greedy in my recruitment days, and I am just pleased that my life changed for the better and I got to spend the last ten years building the relationship with my daughter that I will now value for the rest of my life.