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I’m a successful 40 year-old banker. Here’s how I stay sane

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Just one of the guys

If you make it to the top of banking, you’re going to be part of the 1%. Congratulations! Except, that this comes with some downsides: success can breed envy and criticism. If you want to handle this without turning resentful and aloof, you need to cultivate the right mindset. Here’s what that looks like.

Personally, I recently reached a major milestone in my life: my 40th birthday. It’s a cliché, yes, but this midlife marker has caused me to look at my life and to consider my priorities.

When I first started out, my biggest focus was on all the money I could earn. After eighteen years of experience, and making money….the money is no longer the most important thing.

Instead, my goal now is to pursue all the wisdom and happiness I can gather. Over the course of my career, I’ve come to realize that nothing in life, whether good or bad, will last forever.

If you want to keep your head in finance, you’ll need to be a stoic. Focus only on what you can control. I try to spend my time controlling what I focus on – my goals, and my values. The rest is out of my power, so there is no sense in stressing over it. I now know that I don’t get to control the outcome, the result, or other people’s actions.

I also try to avoid feeling flattered or forlorn about other people’s opinions of me. I don’t want to spend all my time and energy chasing the latest status symbol to elevate me in the eyes of others.

I try to be humble. Over my demanding career, one of my favorite pursuits has been to remain modest at all times. No matter how far I have got or what  I have done, I’ve tried to be like the Romans who were continuously reminded of their mortality after battlefield successes. – Remember we are just ants crawling around on a big rock and none of this matters. Being humble also helps to protect you against the loss of all that you have accomplished. Slow down, enjoy people: we are all on this crazy journey called life together.

I try to help people and I feel like this is one of the best ways of dealing with feelings of envy and criticism. – Help people who have less and who aren’t as lucky. – Help the new guy learn the ropes.

Most of all, I try to remember that I didn’t get here alone. I had help from friends and mentors along the way and it’s now my turn to pay it forward and return the favors and the wisdom to my mentees, In doing so, I’m helping others and facilitating my own personal growth.

Here’s to another ten years of hard work!

The author is a former Goldman Sachs managing director and blogger at the site What I Learnt on Wall Street.


Contact: sbutcher@efinancialcareers.com

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