Regarding careers, common knowledge within America seems to be that greater responsibility, money, and titleship indicate greater career success. However, deep down many of us know through personal experience that this is not always true on an individual scale.
“Why don’t people stop rising when they are happy? Because we are built to think that more is better — more power, authority, money and responsibility. So we incorrectly infer that promotions will equal greater satisfaction,” says Arthur C. Brooks.
We all have a certain appetite for work and exertion–especially that which is meaningful, engaging, challenging, or perhaps rhythmic. The domain could be mental or physical. An outlet for efforts is needed for maintaining health and wellbeing.
Let us call the point where the scales of responsibility and freedom even out the bliss point. It has been called a zone, but I think it is much more elusive and delicate than that term implies.
We must remove the stigma of achieving the personal bliss point as a failure, when it means moving anywhere except up (such as lateral or down).
I have noticed a steadily increasing tension over the course of the four years I have been working full-time. At first, my career drive was fear-based, and I was pleased to work hard so that I could be financially independent and able to set up my life the way I wanted. Now, the passage of time is making itself more apparent, and excess effort feels unappreciated, and so this feels like a tradeoff; we can always get more money but we can never get more time. If I am not enjoying most every moment, is my life worse off than being in a career that is financially riskier? What is financial security if not creating the ability to live in the moment? Obviously, having some savings allows this dream of a less-demanding or tedious career to even come up. Regardless of outcome, this exercise in thought can either validate your decisions or cause you to try a new course.
I believe in seasons within life, and that there are more right paths than wrong. Out of respect for this principle, I encourage you to seek your bliss point without regard for amusing people who do not really notice or care about your happiness. For those who do care, they should be supportive no matter what.