Achievement - Stress = Contentment
Recently I wrote an article about creating a sustained lifestyle. In the article I introduced a concept which contrasts achievement (doing something meaningful that accomplishes a desired result which gives you joy) and stress (the degree of mental, physical, or emotional strain undertaken to achieve a desired result). In the model I define four different lifestyles driven by achievements and stress, as follows:
In 2004, I left Microsoft so Patty and I could homeschool our son Trevor. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder at age five, and we decided as he was entering seventh grade that he would need more help than what his public school could offer. I was his math and science teacher for two years until he re-entered public school in ninth grade. After my homeschooling stint, I decided to focus on writing and consulting, and later Patty and I starting a publishing business. From that point until now, I have regularly been asked if I’m “retired.” At first, I would respond with a strong “no” due to my opinion that retirees spend their days on the golf course or playing bridge. Over time, though, I recognized I had to come up with a better description of what I do as a profession. It’s not a choice of either the golf course or the 8-to-5 grind. For me, it’s something I call sustained lifestyle.
So, what’s sustained lifestyle? Here’s the definition, then we’ll unpack it:
My Nine Life Lessons
This one is a bit of a departure from my typical article topics.
Recently I wrote a book about what I call “good-enough contentment.” It’s an allegory about a forty-something man who is unhappy with his life. After a magical train ride, he learns to define what contentment means in nine areas of his life: career, family, health, friendships, finances, leisure, spirituality, giving, and legacy. Writing the story caused me to look back at my own life--the things I did well and the many mistakes I made. It inspired me to write about nine nuggets that I wish I could go back in time to tell my younger self. Some I would have done the same all over again, others radically different. All, however, are worth putting down in writing to spur your thinking about things you need to start, stop, or continue.
Here they are:
A LinkedIn interaction from some time back still sticks with me today. Why? He and I connected, then he immediately asked to review my personal finances so he could do for me what he had allegedly done for so many other “thrilled customers.” I told him “No thanks.” He replied back asking me why. Being the direct guy I am, I told him I thought it was insincere to connect with me and immediately want to review my personal finances and try to sell me on his service. He said he never asked me to send my personal finances through LinkedIn. At this point, the discussion was no longer about him trying to sell me a service; instead, I wanted to provide a teachable moment for him. I told him that sending personal finances through LinkedIn wasn’t the issue, but I didn’t want to divulge my personal finances to someone I didn’t even know who connected with me only 30 minutes ago. After another couple of interactions, he told me that “nice people” would agree to meet with him (I guess I’m not a nice person) and that he was rescinding his offer to meet (even though I already told him I didn’t want to meet with him). It was kind of like “you can’t break up with me because I’m breaking up with you first”. He then wished me the best. He made an impression on me for sure, just not one he wanted.
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