Success in life

Different levels of our life and career

Level 1 - Aimless

You have no earthly idea what you're doing or where you're going. You have no direction.

Level 2 - Stuck

You can envision yourself doing better but can't seem to get out of a rut. You might work hard but experience very little progress.

Level 3 - Coasting

You are going through the motions. Your life is on cruise control. You do what you have to do to survive.

Level 4 - Developing

You are steadily growing. You've had incremental improvements over the past few years, and your relationships and career have excelled.

Level 5 - Thriving

You are operating in your sweet spot. You don't have to do anything. You get to do everything.

Level 6 - Mastery

You are doing so well that you're in a place to help others do the same.

from "Leveling up" by Ryan Leak

I came across the above while browsing IG and it made me reflect on how success in life and career is defined.

Which level am I at now?

In my early 30s, I was at level 2 until I figured that I did not want to climb the corporate ladder anymore, it just doesn't seem worth the effort for my field of work. 

Thus, regretfully, I am now stuck at level 3 if I go by the above classification.

As I aged, I realized that progress is not all about trying harder, being smarter, so as to get that promotion and earn more bucks.

Real progress (without getting stuck in a rut) is about self-actualization, getting a sense of achievement for the work done and being promoted into a role that taps on my potentials and able do something with bigger impact (not getting promoted and just get more workload of the same nature). I guess the only way to get around this is to quit and switch career. Of course it might take a bit of luck to find the right environment, right people (mentor, leader...) etc.

Quoting Albert Einstein -  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

Another version by SMOL - "10 years of experience should not be first year experience times 10." 

What I could have done better to strive towards success?

One of my terrible weaknesses is procrastination. If I can do things slowly, I will do things slowly. I am a little apprehensive when it comes to venturing out of my comfort zone, perhaps doing so will make me feel insecure. As such, I have failed to seize opportunities and learn things at a faster pace.

At times I felt that I have spent my 20s in too much ignorance. I should have read more, network more, travel more, try more things while I was enjoying my youth and freedom with no family burden. Life in my 30s simply past by too quickly without me achieving much. Experienced a few years of independence moving out, subsequent years I got trapped by Covid and family burden.

Another problem I faced in my 20s was a lack of direction. Overwhelmed by choices, I went with the most popular choice, choosing whatever course that seems to be the best option because it's a course that was hard to get in (high criteria must be good right?). Pushing my limits and making efforts but not in what I like. It seemed like I am doing so to seek approval from others eg. my parents.

Setting life goals, not just financial goals

Life and financial goals should be worked towards in sync. End of the day, it can be pointless in achieving $xxxxxx by age xx if one does not know what one wants in life.

What does happiness look like? What is considered a rich life?

Financial goals can be easy to set, there's even formulas to help if you want to follow text books. Life goals sometimes are harder because we are all very different (living and thinking differently) and there's no text book answer. People like me with no clear inkling would say "Ah, just leave it to fate", "Ah, we are not destined to do this do that..." or find excuse like lady luck is not here. What I have missed is that - opportunities or luck only strike for those who are prepared and who are actively seeking them.

Life is short. We should not waste time leaning our ladders against the wrong wall. There's no better time to examine what we see as a happy life and strive towards that. Different people, different destinations, different walls to climb...

I would like to highlight this quote from the InvestmentMoats blog:
"The goal of managing your money well is to fulfil your life goals in your life."

Success should not be shallowly tied to big account balances, houses, cars or high-flying careers. The happiness from these may be ephemeral. Success can simply be having a loving family, being free from debts and able to do what one enjoys doing (with FI as a bonus).

Success in life can be simple, yet hard to achieve for many.

Perhaps because we have too many wants, paralyzed by too many choices or just can't stop moving our goal posts.

Thanks for reading!

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  1. I like your quote, "Success in life can be simple, yet hard to achieve for many."

    Agree with it wholeheartedly. If we keep chasing for more and more, we will have less and less time/energy/health for those things that really matter.

    1. Hi SS,

      Thanks for commenting. Good to see you here! :)

  2. Rainbow girl,

    It's good you are reading and benchmarking your current situation with the shoes of others - for eg, "Leveling Up by Ryan Leak" is still a shoe worn by others...

    Once you have built up more confidence in yourself, I would suggest listening to "yourself" more.

    Use your own homemade yardsticks or benchmarks. Wink.

    I have one simple word to replace all the so-called life stages or levels - Happiness.

    In our community, we see so many narrow and parochial discussions and debates on how much is enough for retirement???

    When we should be focusing more on how to have a HAPPY retirement?

    Then again, "happy" is too grey so we stick to assuming more money should solve everything...

    You are too young to be considering retirement.

    But I do agree with your statement:

    "Life is short. We should not waste time leaning our ladders against the wrong wall. There's no better time to examine what we see as a happy life and strive towards that. Different people, different destinations, different walls to climb..."

    You already got it.

    We just replace "Success in Life" with "Happiness in Life"!

    1. Hi SMOL,

      My statement was inspired by you! I recalled that you ever wrote the ladder analogy, so I stole it with pride haha.

      Indeed, the key word is "happiness". What is success without happiness?

      More money doesn't mean having a carefree and happy life, but no money definitely no carefree and happy life. The world still runs on money, just that buying happiness with money often has a diminishing effect of return

      Looking at the Maslow's hierarchy of needs, we can derive happiness from each level. When we have money beyond supporting the two lowest level, we should use the rest wisely to progress up the pyramid. :)


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