The Stress of Success

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | January 14, 2022

Success is measured not just by the “score”, the amount of wealth accumulated, but by its cost.

Success is measured not just by the “score”, the amount of wealth accumulated, but by its cost. The cost is measured in hard work, sweat, sacrifices to personal and family relationships, isolation, and stress. We accept these this cost and live under these conditions because we’re afraid of failure and insecurity. We then get used to these things because we wind up living this way for so long that it became our normal, and we now know nothing else and don’t remember any other way.

For those of us who achieved financial success relatively quickly, the change in mindset can be especially jarring. We can be left with guilt—thoughts of “did I really deserve this?” and shock from the realization that our lives are not going to be the same again. This realization can be overwhelming and in the process, we can struggle with what to do next. For example, a number of my clients saw huge gains when their companies went IPO, and then either never cashed in or left their proceeds unused in cash accounts.

Once we have financial success, we often have trouble accepting it and as a result we don’t really think about what comes next. Our past circumstances—the motivator, if you will, that got us started on the path might be gone, but our fear of those circumstances often remains. When we’re motivated to such an extent, our minds get locked into a “siege mentality”. I’ve worked with multiple clients who have worked weekends for years to build their businesses and practices. Now, even though they have successful companies and no longer need to work, they continue to do so simply because they’ve come to know nothing else. It can be difficult to get out of this mindset and realize that we’re going to be okay and that it’s okay to be okay and enjoy the fruits of our labor.

No matter how the wealth came to be, we need to stop for a moment and consider that our past is not the present, and that with success comes change, a solution of the past and a new set of rules for the present and future. We also need to realize that we can use our wealth to accomplish good, whatever that personally means for us. We can use it to improve our work/life balance as well as ensuring a safe and happy future for ourselves and our loved ones. Isn’t that why we do it in the first place?

Did I really succeed? Is it okay to take the foot off the gas pedal? If so, now what? In the next few weeks, we’ll share some thoughts that can help you answer these questions.


A financial life planner can work with you to pave the road to enjoying your success and reaping the fruits of your hard labor.  Contact me via email at, or schedule a meeting by clicking the button below.

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