unfulfilled man
unfulfilled man

A Story of Unfulfilling Achievement 

By CJ McClanahan 


After completing his first year of high school, it became apparent that the only way to ensure acceptance to the best college was to earn a 3.8 GPA or better.

As a result, he spent the majority of high school obsessed with grades. The hard work paid off and he earned a scholarship to an elite college, where he spent the next 4 years focused on out achieving everyone else. 

He graduated at the top of his class, earned a position at a well-known multinational organization, and by age 37, he was made a principal at a large firm. 

He had a beautiful wife, three kids, a promising career and an absolutely stunning home, the biggest on the block. Everything was going according to plan...

But, for some reason, something didn’t feel right. He felt this void in his life, and he wasn’t nearly as happy as he thought he should be.

He had already achieved most of his goals, even the ambitious ones, and started to feel trapped in a career he didn’t enjoy anymore, only to support a lifestyle that was supposed to make him happy.

Many an overachiever have a story like this. Insert your name and this may even sound similar to your life.

Overachievers take pride in their achievements and relate happiness and satisfaction to “winning” and "success," particularly how society view success. 

If you live in the Western world, society presumes your job, income, accomplishments, and the stuff you have are clear signs of how well you are doing.

As a result, some many of us think that building a career with greater levels of wealth, bigger houses, vacations and fancier things and easier lives for our children is the epitome of the American Dream.

Recalibrating the success meter.

Along the way, the vast majority of us forget to ask ourselves the most important question of all – “What would I enjoy doing the most?” In an effort to be successful, many of us completely ignore our unique skills, abilities, and passions and miss out on a career doing what we love.

We spend our prime years doing things that don’t bring us joy in an effort to building a nest egg large enough to carry us to the grave with, hopefully, something to leave behind for our families. The next thing we know, we’re 50 and it’s too late to start a new career. Instead, we tell ourselves they’ll be happier when we retire.

When retirement does come, we get depressed, we feel worthless, and lose a part of ourself identity which we were so focused on for our entire lives.

The world is full of professionals who feel stuck in a job they’d love to leave, but can’t seem to justify the risks of pursuing an enjoyable career, so they settle for something “safe.”

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The world is full of professionals who feel stuck working in a job they’d love to leave, but can’t seem to justify the risks of pursuing an enjoyable career, so they settle for something “safe.”

Is this what we were created for? Is this the true meaning of life? Maybe we should ask ourselves en masse if success is worth a lifetime of doing things we don’t enjoy.