When it comes to professional success, New York City is the big leagues. You might have an easier time building your career in some other city, but only in New York City will you compete with the very best of the best.
For the ambitious among us, New York City is the place to be. But succeeding here isn’t easy, and enjoying your success can sometimes be even trickier. Here’s how to fuel your rise to the top of the heap in New York City, and how to make the most of your life while you’re on top.
Balance Is Everything
Ours is a culture that respects hard work and unflagging effort. In the United States in general and in New York City specifically, we’re led to believe that the path to success is paved with exhaustion. We’re supposed to get to work early and leave late, answer emails at all hours, work to improve ourselves while the competition is resting, and never, ever slow down. If we “keep our nose to the grindstone,” we believe, we’ll get what we deserve.
There’s plenty of truth to this, of course: If you really want to succeed, you’ll need to be ready to work hard even when you’d rather be resting. However, we need to remember that our bodies aren’t built to work around the clock. Pro athletes fuel their bodies carefully and balance rest with effort in order to maximize their abilities; we need to do the same sorts of calculations if we are going to succeed in a place as competitive as New York City.
If you rest, though, won’t others catch up and pass you? That all depends. If you’re kicking up your feet in the middle of the day and sleeping on the job, then you probably won’t get far. But run the engine too long without maintenance, and it will break down.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Speaking of health, even a balanced work schedule can be taxing on your mind and body. Work/life balance means taking steps to prevent burnout, but any success story will tell you that it takes hard work to get to the top. If you start skipping lunch or eating nothing but junk, you’re going to start to feel very real fatigue.
Use those work/life balance rules you’ve established to buy yourself time for healthy lunch breaks, exercise, and other smart choices.
Remember Your Mind
Your health means more than just your body, of course. Your mental health matters, too! It’s also why every New Yorker hoping to get ahead needs to seek proper mental healthcare. Just as you wouldn’t go for years without visiting a primary care physician, so should you be making sure that you are regularly consulting with a mental health care professional.
Yes, that means therapy. New York therapists are among the best in the world, and they need to be: This crazy city and its ridiculous work culture can be very tough on its residents’ mental health. Be proactive about your mental healthcare, and start seeing a therapist. It will give you the outlet that you need to talk about stresses facing your mental health.
It will take years to build real success in New York City, but it is possible. Just ask Howard Fensterman, a successful New York-area attorney who is widely known for his work in areas like financial malpractice. But, many successful professionals caution, don’t let the possibility of success be the only thing that you care about. You might just attain it—and find that it doesn’t solve your problems. What you should really want is to feel fulfilled.
That may mean choosing a less lucrative career, but it doesn’t have to. Let’s return to Howard Fensterman as an example: He made his fortune in law and is now known as a philanthropist. Lawyers help their clients, of course, but Fensterman wanted to find more ways to give back—and he has found them.
You might just make it in this crazy city, but being a top dog in New York City is only worthwhile if you’re fulfilled by the life that you build.