"Sorry, You Can't Have It All!"
Dear Success Seeker,
You want to have it all, right? And as a business coach, I want you to have it all, too. But what does that mean and is it even possible?
The other day I was working with one of my most successful clients when he said something that shocked me. Jason is a financial advisor who earns an extremely high income and yet still manages to enjoy his hobbies, spend quality time with his young family and take regular vacations. During our meeting he said, "You can have anything you want, but you can't have it all!" Now I've always told my coaching clients that I can help them have it all, so what he said stopped me in my tracks. But after I thought about it I realized he was right.
When I get a new coaching client the first thing I have them do is complete an exercise to identify their ten-year goals. Here's why. If I ask you what your five-year goals are, you will almost certainly extrapolate things forward based on where you are today. This will cause you to sub-consciously limit your goals based on what you believe is possible and realistic. This approach won't generate out-of-the box creative ideas; it will just keep you stuck in a rut. Ten years, on the other hand, is far enough into the future that you could achieve almost anything. It may not be possible for you to become a professional basketball player if you are only 5'6" and in your 40s. And it could be challenging to become a billionaire in ten years. But you could definitely become a lawyer, establish a new life in a new country, build a multimillion dollar real estate portfolio or radically alter your current business and life situation.
You see, you can achieve almost anything as long as you are willing to pay the price required to have it. But you can't have everything because you don't have enough bandwidth. Investing the time and energy required to achieve one goal can prevent you from having other things.
Here's an example. A few years ago I had a coaching client who was a junior executive at one of Canada's largest banks. The bank clearly had him on the fast track to a senior management position. In the short time I worked with him he received two promotions, each involving a significant increase in responsibilities. He also had a young family and was renovating his home. He hired me as a coach because his goal was to build a real estate portfolio of ten rental properties. Purchasing ten rental properties is not that hard but it takes time, effort and resources - three things that he didn't have because of his commitment to his career. I finally told him that he had to make a choice between one and the other and he chose to stick with his career.
In our idol-oriented society we put people who have achieved great things on pedestals. But we focus on their one area of success and rarely look at what they are giving up. For example, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz and TV host and producer Ryan Seacrest are two of many 'success stories' who are in the office before 6AM every day. What do you think this does to their family and personal life? You, too, can have more 'success' if you are willing to go to such lengths; it is just a matter of choice. But these people don't 'have it all' either. Seacrest says that he is so busy that he never stops for a meal; he simply consumes green drinks while on the run. Would you give up the pleasure of delicious food or quality time sharing a meal with friends so you could achieve more? You could, but you are not willing to.
It all comes down to your value system, that invisible internal programming that determines your priorities and actions. If you are wondering why you can't get ahead, it is because you are not willing to make the trade-offs required to achieve your goals. For better or for worse, other things are more important to you. In some cases your higher values like integrity, family and enjoyment of life are more important to you than taking the actions required to get ahead. In other cases you allow watching TV or spending time on Facebook to be more important than achieving your goals.
The bottom line is that you can't 'have it all' because every time you say 'yes' to one thing, by default you say 'no' to other options. That's why you need to prioritize. But when you listen to your heart and commit to what is right for you instead of chasing shiny objects, you CAN have what is important to you. You may not get everything in a material sense but you truly can enjoy a life where you have the experience of having it all.
Andrew Barber-Starkey, Master Certified Coach
Founder and President, ProCoach Success System
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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