By Terry Carter, Editor
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present. The result being that he does not live in the present or the future. He lives as if he is never going to die — and then dies having never really lived.”
— James J. Lachard, on what is most surprising about humanity
The summary above describes the average day, year and life of the average person who is working hard and getting ahead in the 21th century. Some work to make money. Some to fill time. And others don’t work at all. They seem to play for 8-12 hours each day, enjoying each challenge, each event, each interaction they have while pursuing their life’s work.
That person, if you study the details carefully, is not unusual, nor a rebel. He is hard working, perhaps so busy he does not make time for family dinners, teaching his children to play ball or drive the car. He may have stayed at the office late to make financial ends meet, to afford a family vacation or to consider retiring late in life. It’s easy to justify the actions because nearly all of us have ignored what is actually more essential — in hindsight — to pay attention to the task at hand.
The fictional character described in the first paragraph dies having missed the reason and the joy of why he lived. He was so driven by societal means goals to “work hard to get ahead” and “promotions come to those with seniority” that he worked beyond the patience of his friends and family, who wanted him to have fun. At the end of his life, he will be well remembered for his work, but the end goals of joy, love, amazement and surprise were planned out of this type of life.
Nearly everyone grew up pursuing means goals, including “get a college degree,” “work for one company during your career” and “marry once for life.” Of the 350 high school graduates from my high school, I suspect perhaps 30-40 percent did not receive a college degree, 95 percent did not work for just one company in the past 30 years, and perhaps 70 percent have exceeded the once social norm of one spouse per lifetime.
In the 1980s, no one mentioned end goals, such as climbing the tallest mountains on each continent or being surrounded by love daily, as they are primarily emotion-based that will make us happy or satisfied. End goals are about “following your heart,” Vishen Lakhiani writes in his book The Code of the Extraordinary Mind.
Means goals typically take us another step toward a place that our elders or society suggests will make us happy, But there are stipulations and complications. See how this sounds: You should get a college degree…so you can get a good career… so you can retire. Then you will be happy. As many of us know, the college degree put us in debt and 4-8 years older. The career allowed us to pay off the debt and afford a family and some lifestyle. The retirement, however, is not as likely as we imagined as teenagers.
Stop during your work week and look at your career as you walk or hurry through the day and the deadlines. Do you feel energized to go to work today? Did you spring out of bed this morning because of how great today will be? If not, why not? For each day is only as special as we make it.
We need to dig and change our software and hardware to bring computers to the market. And we need to do the same with ourselves. Ask yourself a few questions to see if your means goals are in line with your end goals. If they are, then your path may have been perfect for you. I have had to re-adjust my path several times due to changes in the economy (new hardware), new information I have uncovered (new software) and unpredictable events. These questions are taken from Lakhiani’s book, regarding all areas of our lives including relationships, spiritual, healthy and intellectual growth, careers, family and communities:
- What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime? The in-depth question is: If time and money were of no object and I did not have to seek anyone’s approval, what kinds of experiences would my soul crave?
- How do you want to grow? The in-depth question here is: In order o have the experiences above, how do I have to grow? What sort of person do I need to become?
- How do you want to contribute? The follow-up question is: If I have the experiences above and have grown in these remarkable ways, how can I give back to the world?
Answer me this, and your frustration with day-to-day work will vanish because we will begin to unlock your vision. A person who works to accomplish their vision never works as we know work. He or she enjoys every moment, brings light to dark rooms, shares and helps everyone who wishes to grow.
Perhaps you are happy with your work and your life. But studies reveal that 80 percent of us are dissatisfied and just putting in time deposit the check. And the check simply vanishes to the bills that are due.
This, my friends, is not why we are here on Earth. We are here to do so much more than pay bills, complain in the break room and break rules when no one is looking.
Are you ready to grow, change and stretch those wings to fly? Be one with the wave and grow forever. Walk the narrow bridge on the highest mountain, and let us discover the thrill of victory at the summit.