There are two decisions in most peoples’ lives that define how happy and satisfied they will be in their twilight years. Quite simply, what we do to make a living and the person we are fucking. In other words, our personal and professional lives.

Whilst this may seem simplistic if you consider the above paragraph, it is evidently true. In social settings, what are people most likely to complain/ talk about? That’s right, their job and their partner.

In many cases, people focus too strongly on one at the detriment of the other. The stereotypical businessman who is in the office 20+ hours a day that ends up banging his secretary, with the wife that is blowing her tennis coach springs to mind. There is no real happiness in their personal lives so they try to fulfil themselves with quick fixes rather than making a positive change.

If you focus on your professional life too much, your personal life will suffer and vice versa. Finding a balance is the easiest way to achieve happiness in both aspects of your life. But (and this is a big but) a lot of us fall into the position of making compromises to achieve that balance. That is a trap.

We tend to overlook a lot of problems in both our personal and professional lives to force stability. That stability becomes like a checklist. “Finished university, check. Found a partner, check. Found a decent paying job, check. Got married, check. Had child, check. Got mortgage, check. Paid taxes, check. Die, check.” We do this because it’s safe and what people expect us to do. We never consider there might be something else.

I started doing this at 17. I joined the Army, married my high school sweetheart, progressed quickly in my career and as a result my personal life suffered. Trying to force myself into the box resulted in a divorce and realisation that I wanted to do something else with my life. Personally, I was unable to find the right balance for my own happiness until I left that old life behind and found something more liberating. This doesn’t mean my life is completely stable. I travel a lot and juggle a lot of different balls to make ends meet, but I am happier than I have ever been in my life.

If you are a wage slave and truly hate what you are doing, why are you doing it? If your partner constantly gives you stress due to neurotic behaviour, why are you with them? You alone have the power to make the positive changes to your life. No-one else is going to drag your sorry arse out of the ditch and make those changes for you.

The first step is performing a critical analysis on what you actually want out of your professional and personal life. A lot of people never really think about this, as we are often pigeonholed into following a certain path based on decisions we make at 17 or 18. What teenager has any concept of what they really want out of their life? Not many.

This isn’t a five-year plan, this is a deep consideration of who you actually are and how that impacts on your choices. I realised that I like helping and educating people so all the things I do to make a living revolve around that aspect of who I am. I was sorely mistaken about what sort of partner would best match me and had many failures along the way. But I was lucky enough to find the one I was looking for.

Anyone can do this with constructive self-assessment, analysis and planning. The only reason we don’t is we are never taught how to do so.