You might be familiar with the cautionary tale of King Midas and the infamous “Midas Touch” (or “Midas Curse,” depending on your perspective). This Greek myth revolves around a Phrygian king fixated on gold and riches. When he released Silenus, a fellow worshipper of the God of wine, King Midas was granted a reward of his choice by Bacchus.
As someone who cherished gold above all else, Midas asked Bacchus to grant him the ability to turn anything he touched into yellow gold. Initially, he reveled in this newfound power, turning various objects into precious metal. However, the joy soon turned into misery when he discovered that even his food and wine transformed into gold, leaving him hungry and thirsty.
Surrounded by boundless wealth, Midas regretted his desire for riches, realizing that he had sacrificed everything, including his well-being and relationships, for the pursuit of wealth.
The profound psychological lessons from this tale are numerous and relevant. What may not be immediately evident is its applicability to family lawyers.
The Midas Curse and Family Lawyers
My father belonged to the “greatest generation,” having grown up during the Great Depression. Throughout his life, he dedicated significant effort to amassing great wealth and building a remarkably successful career. However, this pursuit of wealth also led him to live in constant fear of losing it all, causing him to frequently express anger and anxiety about potential threats to his financial success.
The story of King Midas, who found himself surrounded by riches but starving and miserable, serves as a powerful reminder that no amount of wealth can compensate for the loss of one’s health, relationships, and self-worth.
As a family lawyer, I encounter many attorneys who sacrifice their personal lives and relationships in pursuit of their careers. They spend long hours at the office, neglecting their well-being and the people they care about. I have seen many of them hit a breaking point when their health and personal connections start to crumble, putting their business and career success at risk.
There are subtle signals that can indicate you may be suffering from the “Midas Curse.” If you find yourself in such circumstances, it’s crucial to pay attention to your beliefs and priorities before you lose everything and everyone you hold dear. Remember that true success lies in striking a balance between professional achievements and personal well-being.
5 Signs You Are Suffering from the “Midas Curse”
- You judge your self-worth based on your productivity. When you compare yourself to colleagues or partners and feel stressed if you’re not the top performer, it’s crucial to shift your focus. Instead, base your self-worth on the quality of your relationships with family and friends.
- You feel guilty if you aren’t working. This clear sign indicates that you are heading towards a breakdown. It’s essential to recognize that no one can sustain exclusive focus on a single aspect of life for an extended period without encountering problems. Achieving a balanced life is necessary for overall well-being.
- Your biggest goal is tied to your net worth. Money holds significance, but similar to the story of Midas, it can also become toxic. The issue with money is that there seems to be a perpetual desire for more. As someone who works with numerous attorneys struggling in their careers, I’ve come to realize that the more money they earn, the more they crave. This desire for more is a natural aspect of human nature – the tendency to seek more of what brings pleasure or satisfaction.
- You neglect your health. Focusing solely on your income and net worth can lead to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as overeating to manage stress or turning to excessive drinking or substance use to cope with insatiable desires. However, it’s crucial to recognize that our health is one of our most valuable assets. Without good health, all the wealth we accumulate might be spent on medical expenses, and we would willingly trade our wealth for better health. Therefore, it’s essential to pay attention to your eating habits, engage in regular exercise, and prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. A balanced approach to life includes caring for your overall health and not just monetary success.
- You postpone happiness. The pain of sacrifice may appear noble, and the pursuit of money might seem worth the effort. However, as someone who experienced a personal downfall while chasing a successful career, I discovered that postponing happiness never leads to its realization. It is essential to find a balance and prioritize well-being and happiness alongside our ambitions and aspirations.
As King Midas came to realize when he found himself starving despite being surrounded by riches, no amount of wealth can compensate for the loss of health, relationships, and self-worth. As lawyers, it is essential to examine our relationship with money and our core beliefs about wealth to ensure that we are not falling prey to the “Midas curse.”
Over the past 16 years, I have dedicated myself to learning how to be a successful lawyer while maintaining happiness. I can assure you that this is an achievable goal. However, I strongly recommend seeking the guidance of the right coach who can help you avoid burnout, build resilience, and rediscover the joy in your career. With the proper support, you can strike a balance between professional success and personal well-being, finding fulfillment in both aspects of your life.