Traveling to exciting countries, flying business class and staying at 5 star hotels. These were the things that I was dreaming of when I got my first job back in 2005. I worked at a call center in Prague and yes, the job was utterly boring but I kept telling myself: if you are persistent and work hard, all the things that you dream of will come true.
Forward 10 years and I travel on a weekly basis to some of the world's most exciting countries. I do fly business class and I always stay at 5 star hotels. The question is, do all of these things make me happy?
The first couple of years, yes, but not anymore.
I remember my first business trip back in 2006. I had a meeting to attend in Kuala Lumpur and I stayed at the amazing Traders Hotel. I had a huge suite and a hotel bathroom that was bigger than my apartment back in Dubai. Plus I had the most amazing view of the Petronas Towers. I was all alone and I didn't have anyone to share my excitement with so I called my entire family and I was telling them how great my life was and how I was staying at the most luxurious hotel in Kuala Lumpur. I thought that I finally had it all. The job, the money and the lifestyle that I always dreamt of.
Right now I am in Cairo. It is my fourth business trip this month. I am staying at this amazing hotel and I have been upgraded to a suite with an amazing view. It seems that I have it all but the truth is that I have never been unhappier. I am tired of hotels. I am tired of packing and unpacking. I am tired of going to airports, checking in and going through security checks. I hate it all.
I miss my family. I miss my five year old daughter. She also hates the fact that I travel so much. Yes, she was excited in the beginning because traveling meant a new doll for her but now whenever I tell her that I have to go on a business trip and I ask her what she wants me to buy her, she sadly replies: nothing.
Last time I left on a business trip I cried like a baby. I held her in my arms and I didn't want to let her go. I remember she was playing in her room and the moment she saw me with my suitcase, she dropped all of her toys and came straight into my arms. She begged me not to go. She kept saying that I just came back and there was no reason for me to leave again. I wanted to stay so bad but I couldn't. I kissed her goodbye and went straight to my car. From my car window I could see her on the terrace, waving and yelling: daddy, I love you. I love you daddy.
I love you too, I kept saying. I love you too and I am so sorry I had to go again. I am so sorry that I am not home for days. I am so sorry I am not able to take you to kindergarten. I am so sorry I am not home to give you a bath, to sing with you, dance with you and hug you. I am so sorry that everything I dreamt of has turned into the biggest nightmare. I am so sorry that a toy is no longer enough to make up for the lost time. I am sorry.
You know what the saddest thing is? Every time I travel, I keep telling myself that this is going to be my last trip and when I get back home I will transfer my responsibilities to my employees. But I never do it. My control freak attitude does not allow me to let go. I want to be a good father, a successful entrepreneur, spend time with my family but also travel. But life doesn't work like that. You need to set your priorities straight and right now I have only one priority in my life and that is my family. I don't want to be the father that was buying his kid's love with gifts. I want to be the father that spent quality time with his kid and created memories that last for a lifetime.
As I sit in my suite in Cairo, I am finally at ease. I understand that the success or the failure of my business does not define me as a person. If all of this ends tomorrow, I know I have a wonderful family that will support me and be my by side no matter what.
As for you, the person that just started their first job and dream of traveling and staying at 5 star hotels, remember one thing: be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.