Can personal and financial success exist together?

by PJ McClure on March 25, 2013

ConductorAll of the people that I viewed as successful in my early professional years were workaholics. Many of them were also alcoholics or drug addicts and couldn’t keep a relationship together to save their life, but they had money.

I grew up in a family that emphasized love and caring for one-another, but was always broke. The magazines, then and now are packed with stories of people giving up their big time careers because they want to spend time with their family.

Is it impossible to be incredibly successful professionally and financially while having a strong family structure and caring relationships?

The popularized theory says you should strive to achieve balance. Make a dividing-line and give equal parts of your time and attention to your professional life and to your personal life. That sounded nice at first, but really didn’t capture what a full life looked like in my mind’s eye.

Why can’t I have a life without lines of separation?

Who says that I must put a clock on what I do and when I do it?

Why shouldn’t I be able to have it all and live in total fulfillment?

I can, and so can you.

The idea of balancing your professional and personal life is a fallacy for real fulfillment. In the popularized version of this notion, we are told to take what we have and attempt to spend equal amounts of time, manage our time, and guard certain areas like a pit bull. As with other mass movements, the focus is in the wrong place.

If you, like many of my clients, told me that you needed help balancing your life, I would need to ask you why. The answers are different for every person and reveal that most people view life-balance as something to achieve and maintain. How many other parts of your life stay the same for any length of time?

Our lives are dynamic and alive! They aren’t the same from one week to the next and priorities are constantly shifting and evolving. If we attempt to stay balanced throughout, we end up short-changing ourselves in some area and begin to build resentment. We need something more fluid and engaging than balance.

I do not claim to grasp the intricacies of a musical performance, but there is something I know…music is not about balance. When you hear a symphony, the conductor does not strive to have all of the instruments in equal parts at all times. Some play soft, some play loud, and some don’t play at all.

Instruments are asked to take different roles from one stanza to the next. It is how each instrument contributes to fulfilling the composer’s vision of the whole that determines the beauty of the performance. You probably saw this coming, but our lives are the same way.

No one has only two parts of their life. If we only consider the popular notions of professional, health, spiritual, personal growth, family, friends, hobbies, etc. you can see that there are myriad areas to every life. I have heard experts separate nearly everything else away from professional as an attempt to simplify. How does that work?

  • Separate health from professional and how effective are you?
  • Personal growth from professional? You won’t stay on top for long.
  • Family from professional? Why are you working in the first place?

On and on we can go with only one point to make; every area of your life is dependent on the others. Some of them get greater time and attention, but not because they are more or less important. You give them different levels of energy because that is what is required to fulfill your vision for your life. This is where the answer to our question lies.

Can personal and financial success exist together? Absolutely! If that is the vision for your life.

Consider your life as the symphony. Before the first note is played, the composer has a purposeful vision for the result and lays it out in notes, sounds, moods, timing. Then the conductor receives the sheet music to bring it to life. In our case, the composer and conductor are the same. We take the role of creating and putting the vision into action.

Each section of instruments receives their role. The instruments do not dictate to the conductor or composer what their role will be. The percussionist doesn’t say, “Screw you maestro! I’m gonna bang on this tympani drum through the whole thing!” He plays what he’s told, when he’s told.

When we start with the purposeful vision for what we want our lives to be, the various sections of our lives fall into their roles. We don’t allow one area to dictate the roles of the rest or force an area to play smaller than it needs. We allow them all to play according to our vision.

When we do, the emotion, purpose, and passion pours out in everything we do. No matter how big or small the area or activity, it complements the whole with beautiful clarity and intention. And like the patrons that witness a virtuoso performance from the symphony, those that witness your life are in awe of the gifts and beauty you bring to the world.

Individuals define personal and financial success, not groups. Only you decide what constitutes winning, because you make the rules to the game. What do you want your life to look like? Start there and put everything else into its proper measure.

Be your best,


Rachelle April 21, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I loved the analogy you gave of the tight-rope walker needing the long pole for balance. The longer the pole the greater the balance. My professional and my private life is at either end of that long pole. The more I strive for balance, the further apart these aspects of my life get. I don’t want separation of my professional and private life. I want seamless integration. Been thinking about that all day….

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