Health, wealth, love, happiness— what will you sacrifice?

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I got asked a question on Twitter this week, in response to my post on being fit to run a business.

The question posed to me was “ So for young entrepreneurs who are just getting out of school and looking to get their business off the ground what do you suggest they sacrifice out of health, love, happiness or do you suggest they sacrifice their wealth by making sure they never lose the balance in their life?”

Blimey, health, love, happiness and wealth are mutually exclusive, apparently you can’t have them all at once! Well, I disagree. My response was that I don’t accept the premise, I’d encourage them to create a new paradigm without such sacrifice.

Cool, what does that mean. Now look, the premise behind the question is pretty mainstream thinking. We’re told, you’ve got to dedicate yourself to building a business. It needs your total focus and in time you’ll get your rewards! Work 80, 90, 100 hours a week, build your business and maybe in 5 or 10 or 20 years you can IPO or simply sell on and cash out. Then you can start living!! I think that’s the predominant pattern of thinking.

No way Jose, I just don’t buy it. You don’t have defer living; putting, health, love and happiness on hold until some supposed golden future. Listen to this, you may not make it, your health may crash, the market might turn, maybe your business just isn’t worth what you expect. Alternatively you may cash out and become a gazillionaire, only to find you have no one to share your untold wealth with.

Of course, maybe everything works out as you planned and it’s all been worthwhile, but maybe not, I don’t know and the truth us you don’t know either. You’re taking a risk and missing out in the mean-time. I think Tim Ferris covers this concept of deferred living very well in his book the 4-Hour Work Week , which I can highly recommend.

I haven’t always felt this way, as a young man I fully bought into the give work your total focus, “party line”. For 6 years I worked pretty hard as the joint founder of an award winning accounting firm, before selling my share of the business in 1998, at age 34. For most of the previous 6 years I sacrificed aspects of family life, you see even when I was with my family, my attention, my focus was on my business. The realisation of that was one of the factors that prompted me to sell. I sold for a modest, yet meaningful sum that proved life changing in that it gave me the time and space to take time out and travel for an extended period with my young family.

I’ve said before that what works or has worked for me, won’t necessarily work for you. I’m no guru. You have to find your own way. My encouragement to you is to define your own “party line”. Be clear of the outcomes you want and why. What does wealth mean to you? For me it’s having the time to pass through life at my own pace, working on projects I value. Sure we all have bills to pay, but money and material assets are only one measure of wealth.

Equally what do, health, happiness and love mean to you. Work to your definitions and design your life to ensure you don’t need to sacrifice any of the important areas of your wellbeing. I’ve worked with many materially successful people who have regretted the sacrifices they chose to attain their success. Choose wisely!

Many roads lead to the pathless garden of truth……



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This article was first published on the blog of Sean O’Leary. Sean O’Leary writes on Midlife Mastery; secrets of Health, Wealth and

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