What do you want to be when you grow up? The standard elementary school question makes us think about the future so that we can start working toward our career goals.
But why all the emphasis on what we want to be? Wouldn’t we be better off considering who we want to spend our days with, how we want to impact our community, where we want to live, and why we want one job more than another?
I recently read an article in the New York Times calling for a new definition of success – one that focuses less on tangible things like money and fame – and places more emphasis on things like personal satisfaction and enjoyment. The author believes we need a new vocabulary for the way we talk about accomplishment, and says that “we should have an expression that captures the level of success you’ve achieved when you do exactly what you love every day.”
Would rounding out ‘what we are’ with information about ‘who we are,’ ‘where we are,’ and ‘how we are’ help create a more well-rounded definition of success? It seems to me that you’re already successful if you’re doing what you love and remaining true to your values.
Maybe we’re not all going to end up astronauts or CEOs or surgeons, but we just might find ourselves working on enjoyable projects or pursuing something meaningful – and isn’t that a success in its own right?
How long is your ideal day? 24 hours? 18 hours? 36 hours? Or, perhaps more to the point, how much time do you need to accomplish your daily activities? And when you think about your daily activities as leading to your greater goals, how much time do you need to accomplish your dreams?
We need time for action and time for reflection, and, somewhere in between, we need time to simply sit and sway and enjoy the day. I came across the following graphic by National Geographic, and, well, you can see why time is on my mind:
The good news is that we get to eat 30 tons of food (make it chocolate chip cookies, please), drink 9000 cups of coffee (do they know I have 2 cups a day?), and laugh 18 times every 24 hours (surely it’s more than that? Everything seems to make me laugh…).
Even if we adjust for personal preferences (I probably spend 19 days trying to find a book page rather than a remote), the numbers probably add up right (if not, why did someone spend so much time creating this? And to be promoted as a National Geographic study? You gotta give it some credit), and that means we have 20% of our life to live.
I went ahead and did a little more research to show you just how much time that actually is:
If you’re American, that means you have 15.64 years to do whatever is most important to you. 15.64– the number seems so low! All I can say is we should all be busy loving and living and exploring and adventuring and taking in the sunshine.
Oh, and on the topic of goals — go for them. Think it will take too much time? No matter, the time will pass anyway. As long as you make time for all the loving and exploring and adventuring, go for it — life’s too short not to 🙂
Gazing out the window and observing the happenings and mysteries of the world is definitely not my cup of tea. No mam, no sir. I’m meant to be wrapped up in the thick of life. You can find me loving, suffering, daring, failing, wishing, hoping and feeling. I want to experience, firsthand, all that the world has to offer.
The wonders of life swirl around us, and it’s our task to absorb and share all that the gifts that they bring. Suffering and pain is inevitable, sure, but the bad times make the good times better.
Point is, I firmly believe that we should make each day our best, and constantly think about how to maximize our life experiences (make way for all that loving, suffering, daring, failing, wishing, hoping and feeling). Sometimes we need to live in the moment, and sometimes our actions need to push us toward the future we’re hoping for.
Despite that belief, I’m also beginning to see the New Year as a time for reflecting on the past 12 months. The new year offers an opportunity to analyze where past plans went awry and create goals for future success. So, this year, I’m making 12 resolutions (or little action steps) to help make sure I’m living life to the fullest.
Okay, okay, without further ado, my resolutions:
Did you make any of the same resolutions? And, last but not least (since I couldn’t stop playing around with words and pictures), a hope to to share:
I’d rather have a great life than a balanced life. A stint in the corporate world landed me in half a dozen conversations about the importance of finding the appropriate work/life balance. These conversations made me want to walk out the office, find a park, and enter Garurasana.
I started working incredibly long hours after I quit my job last May. The freedom and creativity that came with pursuing projects I was passionate about, rather than simply paid to do, was endlessly inspiring. Now, I truly want to be working, creating, and designing.
If you’re anything like me, your best ideas coming while you’re washing your hair or running around the lakes – so the things that matter, the things that you’re pursuing, need to be constantly on your mind. If you truly want it, you can’t just be 75% focused.
If you’re begrudgingly working a 9-5 to pay the bills, then use your evenings to build a career you’re passionate about. Need to take classes after a long day of work? Go for it. It’ll be worth it in a few months. The goal might seem time consuming now, but remember that the time will pass anyway, and you might as well use the current moment to build a promising future.
Time spent pursuing your goals won’t seem like work. There will be struggles and challenges, yes, but that is part of the story. Try, fail, learn, and then try again better.
If you truly want something, break with balance and strive for it with all your heart.
My yoga outfit was designed by Emma and Sarah, two girls so passionate about yoga and fashion that they created their own clothing line, MAI I AM. MAI I AM sounds fun, and the philosophy behind the brand is even better: it’s built from their mantra, ‘I am enough,” and suggests that loving yourself, as you are, will bring you the most peace.