What to do When You’re Successful, but Life Sucks

Four years of college, two high profile internships, two years completing your MBA, years spent climbing the corporate ladder, and now you’ve finally arrived.

You’ve got the title that you’ve been striving for and the six figure income that you were certain would bring you happiness. But, something is still missing. Somehow you don’t seem quite as fulfilled as you thought you’d be. There’s no place left to go up. You’re not sure what’s out there if you move to the left or to the right. Staying where you’re at seems stifling. In short, this life of success sucks!
What to do? What to do?

1. Find the Feeling.

What are you experiencing? Not what are you thinking. Move into the emotional space and explore the feeling. Peel back the layers of the everyday bullshit that you have to put up with. Take off the masks that you wear and the uncomfortable shoes and find the feeling that’s underneath your dissatisfaction. What’s it look like? How big is it? What color is it? What kind of roots does the feeling have?
2. Experience Positive Emotion.

Do things that make you feel good. Volunteer at a charity. Surprise a friend by planning a spontaneous outing. Call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile and ask them how they are and REALLY listen. Listening. Expressing compassion. Doing something novel can prime the pump for big insights.

3. Find Meaning.

What’s even more important to you than typical markers of success: title, material possessions? Maybe it’s developing others. Okay. What’s even more important to you than developing others? What aspirations and deep desires actually validate your existence? Find ways to bring that meaning. That deeper purpose into your everyday activities. The idea is to DO, not just THINK.

4. Get Physical.

Social and career achievements do not yield wellbeing. In fact, as nations around the world achieve “success” by traditional financial indicators, their populations are less well off overall (physical, social, career, financial and community wellbeing). Of these, physical is most often neglected. So change your habits. Walk more. Eat less, drink less booze, move more. Increasing physical activity provides a natural chemically altered state of consciousness that can lead to big insights.

5. Detach and Contemplate.

Detaching from the longing, striving, cravings that the mind creates everyday is a powerful tool in redefining success and making your life suck less. Find five minutes to sit quietly, preferably first thing in the morning or the last thing in the evening. Make a habit of it. Find a quite place in your home, your sanctuary. I’m not talking about turning yourself into a Buddhist monk, I’m just talking about five-fifteen minutes per day of non-thinking, quiet contemplation. Focus on breathing and nothing else. Detach from everything. Let it go. See what pops up. If you do this everyday for 30 days, I guarantee breakthroughs, insights, and cool stuff will happen.

I don’t envy success as many people define it. It causes much pain for people. I offer these five tools as options for helping to increase vitality and create positive change in your life. It’s only through personal transformation that we can help others change. These have been powerful tools for me, and I hope you find them useful.


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