Empty Success Syndrome

Man on a mountain

What’s the solution for Empty Success Syndrome? You have a great career but the dissatisfaction still remains.

I’m guessing that most of us want to feel passionate about what we do for a career and to be able to say that in some small way what we do contributes to the greater good. Harold Whitman said:

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

There’s no doubt that we all come alive when we’re doing what ticks our box: an engineering job instead of Y, chefing in a restaurant instead of Z. However, after experiencing some less-than-successful business ventures over the years I’ve finally begun to realise that I have been asking the wrong question. Instead of trying to understand what I’m supposed to be doing with my life I have learned the need to recognise who I’m supposed to be. As a consequence of grasping this, I have begun to recognise what I’m to do with my life and, more importantly, how to achieve it.

Working from a place of Sonship

During Jesus’ time on earth His ministry didn’t appear to be that successful. Despite His miracles, many people continued to doubt Him, His twelve elect followers argued among themselves, were slow on the uptake, and included one who would eventually betray Him to a most shameful death on a cross. Despite all this opposition, Jesus always worked from a place of sonship, declaring (John 5:19) that He only did what He saw His Father do. Everything He did flowed directly out of His relationship with His heavenly Dad.

Today we are invited to hang out all the time, like Jesus did, in the presence of the Father. Once we remain there and gain in closeness to Him daybyday, He will begin to tell us what we should be doing. Start by committing five minutes on your own each day with some quietness and a bible verse, then persevere and see what happens.

Change in career?

Are you looking for a change in career? Despite having had a successful career, are you still looking for happiness? If so, you could be suffering from Empty Success Syndrome. You could be among those who feel that something’s missing from their lives and don’t know how to reply to the question: what do you want from your life? If this is you, which category do you fall into?

  1. The unfulfilled dreamer – You never gave time to those dreams, but now you’re looking back and wondering…
  2. The discouraged dreamer – Despite fulfilling your dreams, you’re still feeling empty
  3. The ambitious dreamer – You’ve achieved your dreams and you’re now thinking what next? Is there something new and fresh and long-lasting?

A (vain) way to tackle the Empty Success Syndrome is to throw yourself into your work or a new job in the hope you might discover something at the bottom of the cup along with the bits of soggy biscuit. You could also put what you’re feeling down to a mid-life crisis or blame it on your wife and family. However, none of this will give the solution for which you’re seeking and yearning.

The solution won’t lie in self-help strategies either. Instead, look to Jesus for your answer and the example He gave us of getting into our heavenly Father’s presence. Once there, you will discover you are a beloved son. When you know you’re loved unconditionally, you will repeat Jesus’ words: “I only do what I hear the Father telling me to do”. Get to recognise that inner quiet voice, and also learn to listen to the Father speaking through the people you meet and the places where you find yourself.