Most people I am friends with have very high ambitions. And it makes sense - we have been told constantly that a person needs progress to survive; similarly, a business is always measured by its growth. In fact all current successful business models are based upon one common goal - Growth. To me, this does not make a lot of sense because we live in a finite world with finite resources. There is a chance, in the distant future, that we will run out of opportunities for growth. As a result, I always try to temper my goals and ambitions with realistic thoughts. Or maybe this is how I justify my complacent lifestyle...
There are transitions each person's life and career go through. When you are young and single, burning the midnight oil at work to achieve greater success is easy. You have no other commitments or responsibilities. As you grow personally, you start relationships and a family, and start to focus on personal growth more. Career does not take a back seat but it definitely jostles for space right next to another full time career. With personal responsibilities, work and its tasks sometimes do need to take second place. For a while. Until you are sure that your second, new career is as healthy as your first one.
There are many people who get burnt out easily - either from their jobs or from living a family life because they try to balance both by giving their full selves to both. It is simply not possible to be 100% fully vested in two different endeavors and continue to do so long term. You need to grow personally so you can contribute more meaningfully professionally. And there should be times allowed for that. Similarly, there are times when you need to give yourself fully to your career and familial commitments will take a back seat. However, prioritizing one over the other for a long time can have negative consequences.
My simple philosophy is as follows:
Set realistic low expectations and exceed them
Setting low expectations seems counter intuitive to what we have been taught. However, it is far more productive to re-base everyone's expectations to a realistic goal but internally keep striving for the far reaching goal.
This way you do not disappoint others, only yourselves when you reach the goal set out for others but not the one you set out for yourself.
Professionally, this could be a deadline and the number of tasks completed by that deadline that would count towards a high visibility project. I would estimate a lower number of tasks that I can realistically accomplish, but aim to accomplish more.
Personally, it could be something as simple cooking home cooked meals three times a week day. Or spending one hour cleaning the garage on the weekend. And then excelling that goal by putting in more time or effort (I know - not a very exciting example).
Life is too short to be constantly aiming for the highest commitments. Take a little time to enjoy the sunshine, dream a dream, and aim and settle for less.