“More money really DOESN’T make you happy; the skill it takes to be happy with more money is the same skill it takes to be happy without it.”
(I know this is from Amy Hoy but I can’t find the tweet anymore)
This quote has been in my mind a lot recently. This is not just money-related; you can easily replace “money” with other types of objects or circumstances and you get the same overall principle: that being happy/at peace/focused/in control is a skill and it’s largely independent from external circumstances.
I burnt out really bad at my job last year, and one of the reasons was that I spent a lot of energy and time trying to be “on top of things” and trying to help with every situation – with incidents, tasks, advice, proofreading postmortems, you name it – even when the work itself was not completely related to my own work. I love helping people out, but to do that and focus on my own tasks I had to routinely work 10-12 hour days, and the stress + long hours + other family health issues ended up burning me out.
With that quote in mind, when I got back I decided to shift this around completely. This involves learning:
- that “I can help if I get involved” is different than “I should get involved”.
- to set hard limits around my working time, doing 8 hours per day.
- that I shouldn’t rush to fix things when I see something broken. It’s OK, most things don’t matter that much.
- that not delegating is largely arrogance-driven, in my case (“if I don’t get involved, X will happen / will not happen and that’s bad!”)
- that’s OK to say “no” more often.
These lessons are still sinking in, but the skill I’m building – how to better control my energy, time, and attention – is extremely valuable and relevant to any scenario. It’s about improving myself and my reaction to events instead of trying to just change my circumstances.