Pay attention to your happiness

Yahoo columnist Penelope Trunk recently had an entry on her blog entitled “Use money to buy time” that delved into the topic of balancing work satisfaction with other aspects of your life.

My favorite excerpt is from the very end:

“People know that if they don’t pay tons of attention to how they spend their money then they’ll never be rich. But think about this: If you don’t pay tons of attention on how you spend your time, then you’ll never be happy.”

This really struck a cord with me. My comment on her blog recalled a time when I first started working after college and that a financial adviser suggested that if everyone spent as much time planning their retirement every year as they did planning their vacation, they’d be all set when it came time to leave the workforce. That always stuck with me, but until Penelope’s thoughts it never occurred to me to flip those statements around.

At HP, my lone employer the last 14 years, we call that work-life balance and it’s important enough that it is not only mentioned in our Global Citizenship Report but also in our materials on employee diversity as a way to recognize that there are many ways to contribute to the company. I usually try pretty hard to separate my “day job” from this space, but this topic really warranted it because I was lucky enough to find a place to work that values such things before I realized that I valued them myself. I lucked into it, really, and I’m glad I did.

There are as many ways to walk through life as there are people. Every one of us has to figure out what things are most important to us. For some, success at work comes before anything else. Others believe “real life” begins at the end of the work day when family time begins. Hobbies come first for a lot of people, but most of us find some mix in all the things we spend our time doing.

The thing is, no matter what it is you choose, you’re right. More than anything, though, Penelope’s article reminds me that just because we choose one mix today doesn’t mean we can’t change it tomorrow. Just like you owe it to yourself to take a vacation every once in awhile to recharge yourself, you also owe it to yourself and the people close to you to stop every once in awhile and question whether or not your current mix is working for you. If it is, great. If it isn’t, have the courage to explore a change. If you don’t, as Penelope points out, you’ll never be happy.

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2 Responses to “Pay attention to your happiness”

  1. Liz Says:

    What a lovely post. You are absolutely right and its really important for all of us to think that through before it’s too late. I don’t want to be one of those people who looks back and says, “I wish I would have spent my time differently!”

  2. Pete Johnson Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, Liz. I really think its up to each person to decide what it is they want and then go do it assuming you get the support of those around you. It’s when those sets of expectations differ when you get into trouble.

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