On the most recent Fireside Chat, Dennis Prager asked a number of young people the following question:
If you could have one guarantee in life, which would you choose?
1. A great career
2. A great marriage
Had I been asked this question 20 years ago, I would have instantly answered "A great career" because I was eager and enthusiastic to get out into the world and prove myself as someone who could take on great challenges and succeed. The younger me was naive enough to believe that work was the most effective way to reach all of life's goals. As I enter middle age, though, the error in this line of thinking is very easy to see.
Given the option today whether I would choose to have a career or marriage that was guaranteed to be great, my answer would not involve work whatsoever. A great marriage would be far more beneficial to many people over a career. There are exceptions to the rule, of course, as some careers can improve the lives of billions or inspire generations of people to aim for something greater. For me, though, I've been employed for almost every day of my life since the age of 13. Some of the things I've accomplished over the years have been quite remarkable, but very few of these efforts will be remembered in a decade's time. A great marriage, however, is not measured the same way. It's not about money or prestige or accomplishments or technical competence. It's about commitment, responsibility, respect, encouragement, and more.
If I had the opportunity to speak to my younger self, to provide some guidance on how to lead a happier life, I'd say this:
- Don't take work too seriously.
- Don't take yourself too seriously.
- Do invest time into family.
Of course, knowing me, I would have ignored this advice anyway.