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She made it! Why's she unhappy?

Many people have a successful career but are not happy. Others, are happy with their life in general but are disappointed by other parts of their life. John M McKee explains why this happens.

The call came from a woman with a big job at an electronic gaming company:

"I've read your book 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot. It was real helpful and showed me how to deal with issues that had been holding me back. I was promoted. But I still can't get over the feeling that I should feel better about life overall. I mean -- I got the big office, I make good money, and I have a team of over 50 people. By anyone's standards, I'm a success.

So, Coach, tell me: Why do I feel unhappy?"

I already knew the answer, based on the background she provided:

A senior player, she's well up the ladder in a company that's dominated by guys who love playing sports games online or talking about their home players.

She'd worked hard and finally got the title. With that came the "power," a generous salary with bonus, and the other benefits common in the gaming industry. By almost any measure, she was successful.

But here's the thing: Success doesn't equal satisfication.

That's because every human being, each of us, is made up of three separate and critical life elements. Each element exerts push and pull on our life. Every day. And, if we don't pay attention to each of these three, we can't achieve overall satisfaction.

You know what I mean. Think about for a minute people like the once-famous young movie star who has so many drug problems he can't get hired. Or perhaps you remember a guy you knew in college who married the love of his life but since then did so badly in the career front he's always broke and cranky. Each of these people "succeeded" in one life element but ended up unhappy and dissatisfied.

The three life elements are:

1. The personal/family part of you. This is the aspect that gets charged by doing things or being with those we care about at a deep level. 2. The professional side. Whatever the career choice, this is that part of you that gets up each day and goes out to make a living. Ideally you do something that resonates with you, that you enjoy, and that you learn from. 3. The financial element. Many people make a lot of money but have nothing in the bank; others make a modest living but have deep savings. They can deal successfully with anything that is thrown at them.

My new client in the gaming sector has succeeded on the second life element, the professional one. She has a good career and enjoys it. She is truly successful in that regard. But she's not satisfied.

With a little time together, I learned that she doesn't have any really close friends, and she longs for a relationship with a guy who cares about her as much as she would him. While she has a little money in the bank, she admitted that she spends far too much on entertainment and other things to give her a temporary lift. "I feel like I deserve it. I work hard," she noted.

She is, in the over-used phrase, out of balance. Successful in one key element, but not doing well on the other two. Her action steps were clear -- she needed to start focusing some time and attention on her personal life and her financial management. Until then, she's not going to be satisfied, and she'll be unhappy.

We are now developing a plan to get her life in order. We are working on a program to achieve that goal. Interestingly, she is actually "happier" now that she knows what the issue is and has started working on the fix.

I am optimistic that she will achieve successes with her personal and financial elements. After all, this isn't like learning a new language. It's fairly straightforward.

And I've seen it happen, quickly, many times over my 30 years in business and coaching.

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

9 comments
maryhorn
maryhorn

What if none of the 3 elemnts is inn. wow bankcruptcy

sonnystarks
sonnystarks

You can have it all, job, career potential, money, fine home in the suburbs but ignore the spiritual side of who you are at your own peril. Did the writer forget that money and status do not buy "happiness?" This is borne out time and time again by those "successful" people who wind up blowing their brains out. Stop pretending there is no God and acknowledge that life is a gift not a right. If you choose to spend what limited and precious time pursuing the almighty dollar and fame (status), you'll never be "happy" no matter what you have. "Naked came I into the world and naked will I go out..." Job (Bible)

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

It doesn't matter how much money you make, it's never enough. People are the hardest problem in the world.

G-Diggety
G-Diggety

Cry me a frickin' river for all the miserably rich and successful.

MartyinIT
MartyinIT

While I agree in general with this I think it is difficult for the average professional to achieve. American's take less vacations than any other Industrial nation and to be successful can be a matter of luck, who you know, or more often than not a lot of hard work. This is often at the sacrifice of a balanced personal life. You can choose two of these elements but it is very hard to have all three.

jon4t2
jon4t2

"Success" may not be the issue. Here are two books I'm reading that address this matter: 1) "Happiness is a A Serious Business: A Human Nature Repair Manual" by D. Prager; 2) "Man's Search for Meaning" by V.E. Frankl.

qualitymgt04
qualitymgt04

This topic is timely and appropriate. I am inclined to believe that these issues apply to far more than are likely to admit . . . to their own dismay.

tcunningham4
tcunningham4

I agree with your premise, but would like to clarify my view. The spiritual aspect of our lives is too often overlooked, even by those who are 'religious.' What sets humaity apart from the rest of nature is our ability for self-reflection. What our subject did to initiate change was to examine her life. What is frequently missing from the 'successful' people is perspective on our place in the universe. The truly happy have made an inner examination, and discovered what truly makes them happy -- which usually includes relationships as well as possessions. While I have found a relationship with the God of Moses and Christ to be essential to my happiness, others have found that earthly friendships or family serve them as well. The important thing is to make the journey of discovery, and then take steps to continue the journey to follow the chosen path to happiness. my 2 cents - t.

ScarF
ScarF

for anyone following a religious method to look around - to assume the theory is correct instead of proving it - instead of the scientific method. From his show D. Prager is well-knwon for his right-wing-religious discourse, and V.E.Frankl book as novel as it may be looked in 1946 is quite dated. And, really, after reading Frankl's book you may may have been left with two choices for the next step: to continue living your life, or to shoot yourself. Otherwise, thank you John McKee for sharing.