(Photo by David Travis on Unsplash.)

“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.

One thought on “Control

  1. Let’s make a deal: You keep writing here, I keep reading it. Sounds good?

    If it doesn’t, no matter: Just don’t stop writing here. It helps me while you’re helping yourself.


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