When’s the last time you did something that truly made you happy? The kind of happy that makes you think, “I want to remember this forever?” The kind that really feels like you? Think back to when you were a little kid. Did life back then revolve around business? Of course not. You were curious. You were excited. You found joy in the mundane — ice cream on a hot day, rolling down a hill, finding figures in the clouds… It did not matter if the ice cream dripped onto your new shoes, if grass stuck out of your hair and stained your knees, or if the clouds began to turn gray. The present was bright and beautiful, and the future even more so. You were going to sail the seas, save the world, and build a house on the moon. You were going to do it all, and there would be no one to stop you.
It’s amazing how vivid our dreams can be when not tainted by, well, real life. You get older. You have bills to pay. Suddenly, a dollar sign glows brighter than the moon. The radiant purpose of life becomes having more, glorious more, wonderful more. More money, more power, more recognition, more clapping hands, more rooms in your house, more gold on your mantle. So, you work. Always working, always more to have. But do you still dream?
The Many Makings of You
You will always be more than your title. Every human being is made up of intricate workings, with complex feelings and memories all strung together in one working web. There’s you the child, you the adult, you the worker, you the artist, you the parent, confident you, lost you, lonely you… While you might be an executive, an employee, or a business person, that’s just one string out of an infinity. Give all those little filaments a chance to shine.
Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but never have? What about something you used to love that’s now been collecting dust for years? Identify these things and incorporate them into your life. Bring out the old guitar, the paintbrushes, the hobby. Don’t let fervor fade because you’ve convinced yourself it just isn’t realistic, you don’t have time, or there are more pressing things to worry about. Picture that little kid again. Tell them all about how life is now. Would they be proud of what you’ve become?
MORE FOR YOU
Now or Never
At the risk of sounding terribly cliché or morbid, you’ve been given one life, and that life will one day end. Woohoo! Seriously, though, this is the reality that every single person faces. Now, accepting this reality does not mean you must succumb to inevitable doom, lose all sense of purpose, and spend the rest of your existence as a joyless, hopeless shell (unless you want to, of course). You can instead confront your fate, look it straight in the eyes, and say, “I still have control.” There will come a time when you look back on the years behind you, think about how you have spent all that time, and ask yourself, “What have I done with what I was given?”
Will your memories be filled with phone calls, conferences, numbers, figures, last month in San Francisco, this week in Las Vegas, yes I can, no I can’t, close the deal, find the lead, here’s your bonus, see you in New York? Or will moments like those fade because they were never really important? This is not to say that everything is meaningless, every job is pointless, and no true value can ever come from work. Not at all. The point is, have you the business person and you the person person become one and the same? There was a time before your work, and there will be a time after. Stay true to yourself now.
Savor the In-Between Moments
If you do not attach to the present, your quest for more is never going to end. Life will pass you by, as you race toward some shapeless idea of a perfect stopping point. What does that look like? Is it a billion dollars? A building in your name? Marble floors and 16 bedrooms? If you were asked to define exactly what you seek in life, could you? The good news is, you don’t have to. Just stop, look around, and start small. Find something to celebrate — something that makes you feel truly alive. Maybe it’s love, maybe it’s an abandoned passion, maybe it’s the way the sun shines through the trees.
Make reflection a daily practice, and let equal focus seep into every crack and crevice of your life. On your next lunch break, decide to eat something delicious instead of something easy. Find a nice, ripe piece of fruit. As you eat it, pause to think about how beautiful it is for something to grow from the Earth and find its way into your hands. Reflect on its color, its shape, its flavors, and its textures. This might sound ridiculous. It might sound like a waste of time. But really, it’s exactly how time should be spent. The more you feed your brain with meaningful interactions, experiences, and even lunches, the more you can feel grounded and fulfilled. The more you’ll feel like you.
Work is necessary. Work is varied. For lucky people, work is something to enjoy. But whether you like your job or not, work will never be the most valuable thing in life. Be intentional with how you spend your time, and allow the music of heartstrings to play loudly. Make yourself proud.