Toward a More Sustainable You: Alternative Belief to Consider #3

Our beliefs and mental models deeply influence the choices we perceive available to us and the expectations we need to meet.  In a new workshop entitled Toward a More Sustainable You, I've been offering four of the current beliefs that I believe inhibit our effectiveness and four alternative beliefs that, if adopted and implemented, could lead to a personal and professional life that is robust, yet more sustainable.

Each Friday in June I explore one of these beliefs and its alternative.

Belief #3:
To succeed I have to keep climbing the ladder.

Alternative Belief #3:
My definition of success may involve ladders and lattices.

More.  Bigger.  Upward advancement.  These are the usual hallmarks of increased success as defined in North America.  But are they yours?  It's important to know because they almost always involve trade-offs you may or may not find acceptable.

If a promotion means more money, but less time with your family and friends, what is the end result for your quality of life?  Moving from a committee chair to a board member position likely means reducing your involvement in hands-on projects and increasing your time spent on policies and strategy.  How does that match with your interests and strengths?

While many suggest it is universal truth that "if you're not getting ahead you're falling behind," we don't have to make our decisions based on criteria or beliefs that don't reflect what we value in life.  Your priorities may require taking one step back in some areas to go two steps ahead in others.  Making life decisions based on others' definitions of success is rarely fulfilling.

In his book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, author Alain de Botton says, "What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we're truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it's bad enough not getting what you want, but it's even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn't, in fact, what you wanted all along."