Or The Pursuit Of Status?

Date June 30, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness: Money, Work, & Play

Making authenticity a priority has obvious benefits for your psychological health and your spiritual balance. It gives you focus to make sure you don’t over-schedule yourself with too many activities. It helps you establish your priorities and stick with them. But it also brings an unexpected benefit.

Living an authentic life means taking charge of your goals and the standards you set for success. It means letting go of concerns about status, which can be a huge drain on resources and a huge pressure on you.

Status goals may push you to seek promotions to get more responsibility and higher pay. Authentic goals may free you to see that you enjoy working directly with or for clients but you don’t enjoy managing people.

Status goals may have you striving to afford the European luxury car. Authentic goals may free you to be content with a late model used American or Japanese car.

Status goals may tell you the older boat you have should be replaced with a new, more powerful jet boat. Authentic goals may help you realize you go boating so rarely it works better for you to sell your boat and rent one occasionally with a group of friends.

Status goals may convince you that you need a graduate degree to be prepared to start a part-time small business as a contractor or consultant. Authentic goals may show you the path to develop your expertise in a more suitable field through your passion and natural curiosity.

Status goals may pressure you to trade up to the larger house in the newer neighborhood. Authentic goals may help you see that paying off your mortgage more quickly and then investing the equivalent of a mortgage payment will bring you more financial freedom and peace.

Status goals may have you going with friends every week to the newest movie theater paying top dollar for tickets to the latest movies. Authentic goals may have you planning which movies you actually want to see and choosing to see them for a discount at matinee times or at older theaters.

The money, time, effort, and other resources you expend pursuing your authentic goals will feel like a good value, not like a huge sacrifice. The money, time, effort, and other resources you expend pursuing status goals will often feel wasted.

You can’t get enough of what you don’t really need. It’s in the U2 song Stuck In A Moment. It’s also in a lot of the literature on addiction treatment, so much so that I can’t recall where I first heard it, although my best guess is from John Bradshaw.

When you pursue things that don’t really suit your authentic self, you experience scarcity and feel deprived. When you pursue things that align with your authentic self, you feel abundant.

That’s a liberating idea.

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