I was about twenty-six or twenty-seven, when my neighbors came over to invite my wife and I to a free concert at a local college campus. A rap group like House of Pain or Public Enemy was performing, but I really can’t remember the exact group. My wife and I had no kids and no real responsibilities other than feeding our dog and working to keep the lights on in our house, but I ended up turning them down.
Why, would I do that? Today, when I think about this memory it makes me shake my head. In the middle of my twenties, I got really serious about my life and career. I had recently signed up to take the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam through my employer. My employer paid for the exam and study materials, and the pass rate for the exam was around 30%. It’s a grueling exam where most of the people who passed told me about how they basically had no life for the six months leading up to the exam. When CFA send you their required reading, they actually send you post cards to send to your friends and family to explain to them why you will absent for the next few months. Who actually sends those cards out?
I was in head down studying mode for the CFA, and I told them I was unable to go to the concert because I needed to study. Maybe this was the responsible move. Looking back on it now, it seems stupid. I should have spent my twenties exploring, experiencing, and figuring out what I wanted instead of having my heard buried in bad books. A few months in to my studying, I realized the CFA path wasn’t for me. I ended up failing, I wasn’t happy, and it made me realize I didn’t want to waste another year of my life on some exam.
This is an issue happy people don’t worry about. Happy people aren’t afraid to be “Immature.” They realize it’s a necessary part of life. That’s what I was missing. I thought working hard and forgoing pleasure would lead to happiness. In the end, I realized I was wrong. I wasn’t happy and I needed to find some balance.
The question of, balance, could be a book. I think balance is different for everyone. Some people want to actually be balanced in their work and life goals. Other people focus more on work, but they need to find the proper amount of work-life balance. I don’t think it always has to be 50-50 for work-life balance. It could be 60-40 or 40-60 or really any percentage like 80-20 or 10-90. If your the CEO of a major corporation than you’ve probably come to realize you’ll never achieve balance. You work life balance will always be heavily weighted to the work portion of the equation.
You can choose to live your life the way you want. Just remember that happy people aren’t afraid to be immature, and accept an invitation to jump around at a House of Pain concert.