Overachiever Study Shows Importance of Relaxation

A new study shows that people prone to high achievement are no happier than the rest of us.

Do you think you need to go to the finest university, get the best job, and keep your nose to the grindstone until you finally get that big promotion if you want to be happy?

Think again.

A new study from Timothy Judge, professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, tracked hundreds of individuals over a seven-decade period to determine how ambitious they were, and how their decisions played into their success, happiness, and health.

The results of his study showed that overachievers are no more likely to live contented lives than those of us who choose a slower pace. In fact, though ambitious people went to better schools and got higher-paying jobs, they showed no more satisfaction than others, and had a slightly decreased lifespan (likely from the stress of meeting all of those nonstop goals).

So if you’ve been focusing on education and work above all else, this study might be a good reminder to take a vacation every once in a while. Play with your kids; go out on a date night; sign up for a yoga class. And, when you’re imparting your own wisdom and values to the next generation, there’s nothing wrong with emphasizing hard work—but don’t forget about play, too.

“If your biggest wish for your children is that they lead happy and healthy lives, you might not want to overemphasize professional success,” says Judge. “There are limits to what our ambitions bring us or our children.”

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