Do I have to be an A+ player?
Experienced hikers and backpackers tell you that if you can’t carry on a normal conversation while you are hiking, then you are going too fast. Applied to your career, the rule might be that if you are so busy with your career that you can’t carry on other important parts of your life, you are moving too fast. I know that people who are able to accomplish great things in their work often sacrifice other parts of their lives. And maybe it’s not possible to achieve greatness without giving up something. The real question is what are you willing to give up and what are you hoping to accomplish?
The key to this discussion is to recognize that your definition of success is unique to you. I suggest that you make a list of what you need in order to consider yourself a success. Put everything on the list that you can think of including work, academic and personal achievements. Now think about what grade you would give yourself in all of these areas. Would you give yourself an A+ at work, but a B or B- as a friend or parent?
Once you make that list and grade your performance, it will become clear that you may need to make some trade offs if you want be successful in all of the areas that matter to you. If you have always been an A+ player at work or at school, you are no doubt aware that some other areas of your life may be shortchanged. While you were busy being the top player at the office, did you miss dinner with a loved one? Did you give up your Saturday morning yoga class to work on a report for your job?
The reality is that you are the only one who can define your own success. When you understand what your own goals are, you will be much better equipped to make smart choices about these trade offs. You may decide to work late sometimes or spend an occasional weekend on a special project for your job. But you also may want to say “no” those extra assignments and long hours when your other priorities begin to suffer. Make these decisions consciously and try to be fully aware of how you are choosing to spend your precious time and energy. Ultimately, you are the one who must decide when and where you want to be the A+ player.