Life Intelligence: Resumes and Eulogies


“Success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure.” — Tony Robins

This line is my mantra. I hope it becomes yours by the end of this short piece. Why?

Because if you continue to live for your resume, your eulogy will be short, boring, and depressing!

Our most technologically advanced and resource-rich society happens to be the most depressed and medicated one. We complain about everything! We hope that politicians will fix our life crisis and alcohol will help us feel alive. We blame “the system,” our parents, and whoever is convenient, for our troubles and bad mood. But the answers we seek elude us, as they sit right in front of our eyes.

I like precision, so here are some numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed people spend close to nine hours, on average, at work. Meanwhile, self-employed people and top executives don’t really know when and how not to work. We work to get ahead, to pay the bills, to establish ourselves professionally, for retirement, for status, and to feel useful and significant. We introduce ourselves with what we do. Our professions and occupations define us. Therefore, when we lose a job, or must close down the shop, we fall into a pit of despair. The loss of identity for many comes in a package with shame, guilt, and a sense of powerlessness, feeling useless, angry, and resentful.

Really? Are you nothing more than an economic unit of production?

I concede. Some people feel passion for what they do because they do it for deeper reasons. Those are few and far in between. Most people race through their career path like life depends on it. It does in a way. The mortgage must be paid, and the kids need to go to school. But work should be a part of your life, not your entire life. That house is your home and you should spend some time there enjoying your surroundings. Your dog needs you to toss a ball occasionally. Your kids want to learn stuff from you. Your significant other needs you to remember how you felt when you first met, hold hands, make out, and go on vacations without you answering work calls all the time. You need to have backyard BBQ’s for your friends, go to the movies, play silly games, read books, and discuss your dreams. Most of your life should be about building deep, close, personal relationships with people who make you feel safe to be yourself and laugh your pants off with spaghetti coming out of your nose. The kind of people that will sit next to your hospital bed and hold your hand waiting for you to get better. People who can tell you to your face exactly how crazy you are and set you straight because they care about you enough to do it.

More numbers… Robin Dunbar, an evolutionary anthropologist from England, found that on average people can remain meaningfully connected in a variety of ways to a total of about 148 others. But each one of us needs about five close friends and/or family members. And we used to have that in the 80’s. But as of late, studies show, that most people have only one or two close friends. Many have none. If you have no close friends, who’s going to write your eulogy and what are they going to say?

Turns out, we derive more meaning out of what we do for each other and the roles we play in each other’s lives then out of any professional achievement. The quality of your personal relationships determines the quality of your life. Yet, we give our best at the office and take home the leftovers. We make money while losing friends. We build resumes at the expense of our health and wellbeing. Then we spend our money on medicating ourselves.

If you want to feel better, simply work a little less, play a little more, and love the good people in your life enormously! Balance the working achiever in you with the loving relationship steward. I promise, you will feel more successful than ever because you’ll feel full! Full of meaning, joy, and responsibilities for no pay towards people you can’t wait to help and support.

No one will read your resume out loud at your memorial service. What do you want to be known and remembered for? Arrange your life accordingly.

Valentina Petrova is passionate about helping people sort themselves out and live awesome lives.  You can find her at www.ValentinaPetrovaConsulting.com.

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