Q: I remained friends with many of my high school friends, even though we no longer have anything in common. It is actually interesting how little we ever had in common, yet we all wanted to stay in touch with one another.
I started a very small company (I worked on my own), and my closest friend went to work for a large company with many benefits. I was the big risk-taker, and he couldn’t tolerate taking any risks, so that’s what we talked about when we got together. As the years flew by, he became more arrogant due to his big salary. He bought more things while I put money into my business. I’ve never been materialistic, which I never realized in high school.
What now has me shocked is that his arrogance has turned into cruelty, a character trait I had not previously seen in him. I have never compared my life to his, but the most recent time we got together he spent our entire dinner shooting insults at me. He made statements on how he made the right decision by working for a large company, while I stayed small and had nothing. I left that dinner feeling bad about my life and accomplishments. Up until now, I felt good about growing my company. Now I am not so sure. If I sold my business, could I get a job managing a department at a large company? The greatest number of employees I’ve had is 10 to 15.
A: Although you have not previously noticed your friend’s insults, he has likely previously made rude and cruel remarks. If he had never focused on what he considered your lack of accomplishments, you would not be considering selling your business and getting a job at a large company.
You are giving your friend too much power over you. You have freedom over your life decisions: You can take off when you choose to, whether for a day, a week or a month’s vacation. You can dress as you want at work. You are in charge of your schedule and the schedules of your employees, a freedom your friend does not have at a large company. If you are going to compare your assets to your friend’s, be sure to include all the positive and negative aspects that accompany your lifestyle differences. Also, realize it will never be a fair comparison since everything will not transfer between your lifestyles.
You need to ask yourself critical questions: Are you happy running a business? Are you satisfied running a business in the field you are in? Are you missing important aspects and items in your life — travel, material items, clubs, circles of friends, etc.? Are you proud of your personal and career accomplishments? Are you living the life you want, the life you enjoy?
After you create your list, you can rank the order of importance. Then you can decide what you want to do. This is your decision, not your friend’s. Don’t let someone else’s values rule your life. Many business owners would not trade their lifestyles for anyone else’s. Perhaps your friend insulting you has given you more to think about, but it should never be enough to make you throw away your lifestyle. No one else’s opinions should ever be more important than your own.
If you cannot decide based on your own solid information, seek the counsel of a business coach before making changes. Regarding lifestyle and career changes, listen to all information that will help you decide. Then analyze that information. Ultimately, only your decisions matter. This is a major lifestyle change you are considering — not something to take lightly.
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