Originally Posted by Quadcammer
Look, I have a very comfortable salary and bonus. It affords me a very nice lifestyle, without question. But I feel mediocre...and in my business, that seems to be determined by income.
The more competitive you are, the more likely you are to be unsatisfied with your level of success. It's hard to be driven and contented at the same time. Most people are pretty miserable for a long time if they're fixated on pushing themselves as hard as they can, even if you totally get off on your job. Maybe it's worth it in the end, maybe not.
A lot of it depends on your peer group and your perspective. If I look at my high school class, I'm probably one of the most successful people. If I look at my graduate school class, I'm more or less average. I've decided that I'm fine with that, being average in elite company is ok for me. Being the best of the best is a lot of damn work, even if you're talented. Most people couldn't do it even if they tried their whole life, and it can be a recipe for perpetual unhappiness. I like having time at home, not being stressed all the damn time, etc. A cost of that is that I'm not in the top % of my field. It has some costs, but I feel that it'll be best in the long run.
I ended up settling on my personal philosophy in part due to my experience in sports. I was consistently in the top ~15 in the state (out of a couple hundred) when I competed regularly. When I tried national level competition, I rarely got in the top half. Some people push themselves until they're the best in the world. Me, I realized that between my talent level and the rewards I was getting, I was happier swimming in a smaller pond. I probably could have pushed hard my entire life and never gotten to that elite level, and would have hated it the whole time.