Most of us end up on the path we’re on and good or bad continue more-or-less in the same direction. We think the only road to our life is the one we’re on, as moving to a different path takes a lot of effort. I agree with this assessment – it does take a lot of effort to stop one gigantic boulder from rolling, and push it in a different direction, especially with kids or spouse in tow. However, I also think many simply resign themselves to these facts, and with not being as fulfilled as they could.
I recently read an interesting post about trying to shine a light on these secret desires and have them help guide your choices today. By bringing these out in the open, we can perhaps do something today that helps us in small, minute steps to reach those long term goals. Or you can blow it up in a huge way and simply try and start from scratch which is much more risky. However, we shouldn’t go down a path where we have major regrets at the end of our life. You often hear about workaholics saying they wished they spent more time with the kids when they are young. That type of thing.
So answer these questions, and see what that means for how you live today, I’ll share mine (as I feel right now today) below:
- Let’s say you came into enough money today to not have to worry about anything. How would you live your life? After the luster of buying all the things you’ve been coveting has worn off, how would you spend your time?
- Let’s say you are diagnosed with an illness that will leave you only 5-10 years of time on this planet. Assume your health will not deteriorate until just before you pass, and your financial situation is as it currently is today. How would you spend your remaining time?
- Now let’s say you are diagnosed with something terminal that will kill you within 24 hours. How do you feel? What do you regret? What do you wish you did but didn’t?
Like in Fight Club (start at about 1:15 in the video below):
For me, my answers would be something like:
- With no money limitations, I would travel more, see more of the world. No money limitations would afford me to spend more time with those I love. But I’m not sure what gives me pleasure or what drives me would change. I’d still exercise. Still go camping (though maybe seeing the national parks in a different manner than I could today). Still try to improve and to learn. Still write and share with others and do what I can, in my own way, to help others. I’m not sure much would change in my life or life priorities. At some point, you already have “enough.”
- I picture the move My Life (with Michael Keaton) in this item. Not being able to watch my kids go through becoming adults or for me to guide them would be the worst part. I’d want to do what I could to spend as much time with them as possible, to impart as much wisdom to them, and to spend time with my wife. Some trips building life memories would be on the docket. It would be much harder to take time for granted with a dedicated window. But that window is still large, with a lot of down time and regular life things that need to happen such as work, school, and the day-to-day life stresses. I would have less patience (or no patience) for things or people that suck enjoyment or fulfillment out of my life, as my time would be more valuable. I’m certain I would build and mend relationships in my life that have been damaged, and would hope to share these thoughts with others as they progress on their own life journey. With my job – it’s a job (don’t love it or hate it), but I’m working to align my income with what does make me tick. Baby steps.
- I’ve done and tried many things in my life (more to come, I’m sure) and I’m not sure I’d have too many regrets. Realizing the infection put me in the hospital last year could have killed me did lead to some of these thoughts, and like that experience, I think if I got this news today, I would be a little sad at a few things. That I didn’t linger more with the kids at bedtime, and enjoyed those precious moments a little more than I do and with more patience. I’d wish I’d take more time, right now while they’re young, to roughhouse and play games with Birdsnest and LoudBoy instead of doing adult things like reading or computer stuff. Besides that, I think I’m good. I try to be the best I can in my life circumstance, and that’s a tough burden to shoulder every day. I’ll settle for being good enough.
I think it’s taken me awhile to appreciate what I have and not always be searching for that next thing or goal or activity to give me fulfillment. I’ve met many people who need that next fix. That next Ultramarathon to train for. That next new car. That next trip. Instead of looking at their amazing life. And if you want changes that will begin to align how you answered your questions to your current state, you often need to look within, and start walking on a path. If you don’t know how to get there, just start walking, you’ll eventually figure it out, but until you take that first step, you will never get started.
I’m a big fan of Mike Dooley, and if you don’t mind a little hippy-dippy metaphysical talk about how and why you can change and live your dreams, you could do a lot worse than read his books Infinite Possibilities and Manifesting Change. You can find these at your library (the audio books are great as he reads them), and they’ve been a big part of my realizing that wishes and hopes are great, but unless you make them a priority and take some (any) kind of action, they’ll never come to fruition.
Anyway, one can never really plan your life, so stop trying. Life will happen. You can help that direction, but you can’t control exactly how it goes no matter how hard you try. Have a vision, enjoy your relationships, have positive energy, do the small first steps, and you’ll likely end up somewhere in the ballpark of where you pictured. Shine on people!