When I was younger, I remember having some definitions of what it meant to have it made.
I’d drive by a nice home or watch a nice car go by and say to myself ‘Boy if I only had that, I’d have it made’.
I also had a vision of having it made based on an annual salary. I’d hear about people who earned a certain salary and think about how perfect life would be ‘if only I made that much money’.
I must have thought there was some utopia waiting for me once I surpassed some set of milestones.
But as I progressed in my career and surpassed many of those milestones, I learned that there is no single point of nirvana where you sit down and suck down piña coladas for the rest of your life basking in your glory. Despite what we were taught as children, there is no ‘happily ever after’.
Levels of utopia
Once you achieve your goals, there should always be another level of achievement to work toward.
Granted, there are some people that are content to stop where they are. They get to their pinnacle and are satisfied stopping at that point. I remember once when my son played on a travel baseball team. A new player on the team had never played at that level. I spoke to his father about mid-way during the season and he was very frustrated. He told me “Jimmy has always been the best player on whatever team he has played on. On this team, there are boys that are much stronger and faster. We’re thinking of putting him back on his old team.”
The problem was that his old team wasn’t very good. Jimmy could have gone back to that team and been the best player on the team. Or he could have stayed on the more talented team and raised the bar to achieve better.
There are some that exceed their goals so much that they go into a downward spiral. We’ve all seen this with rock stars and sports stars that become rich and famous so early in life that they have trouble dealing with all of the success and don’t continue achieving higher goals. They enjoy the fruits of their success and eventually fizzle out.
Utopia is unattainable – That’s a good thing
So the key is, no matter how successful – or unsuccessful – you are, you should always continue to grow. Set long-term strategic goals and corresponding short term tactical goals that will help you achieve them. Some people set 60 or 90-day goals and then weekly or 30-day interim goals that help them achieve them. I set 100-day goals broken into short-term 10-day ‘iterations’. Whatever approach you use, never stop growing. When you go through a door, there should always be another one there that needs opening.
What are you doing to grow?
If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com
As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.