Recently I found myself in a contemplative mood. Not unsual, as I try to think within myself daily. However, what brings me to this writing is that my friend David Armano finds himself in a similar place. In We Are Fragile, David writes: "But today I was reminded about what really matters–and I'm writing this down for my sake more so than yours...."
David and I exhanged a few e-mails offline, and all the time I kept think that if we don't stop doing sometimes and start thinking, we may be speeding down a deadend road, going nowhere fast. And that can't be good for our business, our customers, our families, our friends or our planet.
Most of us live our lives outside ourselves, with work, business, family and external factors managing us. Some of that is necessary to be responsible, caring and committed people. However, if those external factors lead us around without pushback from us, we may find ourselves living lives of regret.
Here's a personal story I'll share: My dad died young from cancer, two years after he retired. That event and watching him work two jobs, coach two baseball teams and serve as a volunteer fireman meant that the only time I had with him was when I played ball and was just one of the players or hung out with him at the firehouse and was just one of the guys.
Maybe he was fine with that. I have no way of knowing. But I wasn't okay with always coming in second or third to his activities and I vowed not to live my life managed by the external world. So I began a life of contemplation. What does that mean?
Everyday I take time out from work and life to sit quietly and evaluate my day and my life. The goal is to prioritize what really matters, as David says. In doing so, my wife (who does the same) and I realized early on that to live our lives from within meant sacrifices such as:
* going without children, a huge sacrifice for me, as I love kids,
* never being able to retire because there is no company pension plan in our future,
* putting off material things until we had the money to pay for them,
* and other such dreams that many of us have.
In exchange, we chose work we love and worked for corporations just long enough to build savings, to travel, to buy homes and cars, and to meet our needs. For the past many years, we have worked for ourselves and created a simple lifestyle that we enjoy, which includes spending time with our families and friends and making new friends. People are important to us.
I share all this because life and work are about compromises, no matter our choices. But if we don't ask ourselves regularly what matters, are we going to live the life we want and be the best that we can be at what we do?
So if you haven't spent time thinking about priorities, maybe it's time. Here are the factors I include when i contemplate my future, which I plan on doing until the heavens call me home:
* What do personal, professional and business success look like?
* How do I serve my co-workers and customers the way they deserve to be served?
* How do I serve my nation, the world and the people living in it?
* What are my responsibilities and obligations and how do I meet them?
* How do I become the change I wish to see in the world?
* How important are the things money can buy?
* What are my most important wants, needs and desires and how do I meet them?
* How much do I care what others think?
* What is my tolerance for risk?
* How do I measure happiness?
Take the first step (it's free).
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