“Once I get that [insert item here] then I will be happy.” The item can be a promotion, a car, the new job, a degree, a new house, friends, or a significant other, but it tends to create a world that exists “out there” not the reality of today.
Not that dreaming about the future or setting goals are bad things, but if they distract you from enjoying your actual life, there can be a problem. The trouble is, life is a lot more routine than I ever expected, with small glimpses of excitement along the way. So, my mind tends to wander off and create a vision of how I would like life to be, not how it actually is on a day-to-day basis.
I am reminded about a time while preparing for a road trip with the kids, we needed to leave the house early in order to “be there on time.” I kept reminding them that it was time to leave, and how much fun it would be once we got there. It was at that moment my youngest daughter blurted out:
“But Daddy, I am not having fun right now!”
Suddenly, getting out the door was not the main goal. The thought of stressing out my kids in order to “have fun” in some future moment shook me back into the present reality. Enjoying the morning, the ride, the trip, and my kids became the new goal…and that is what we did.
Her words have become a reminder for me to live life now and not wait assuming that the fun will arrive later. At home, at the office, with relationships, or with goals (that can become nothing more than a way to escape my current situation), TODAY is our opportunity to do something real and not just dream about it. And if life has become merely rushing around assuming you will have FUN later, pause for a moment and find your way back to what matters, and live today.
How funny is it that once you reach 40, you start to become Snarky about the generations below you? Regularly when speaking to larger groups of supervisors or managers, you start to hear this:
“THEY do not have OUR work ethic.”
“THEY don’t take the jobs as seriously as WE do.”
“There is no way that THEY could do OUR jobs.”
Why do we have to hold ourselves up as that standard to measure everything else against? I recently heard someone say “don’t you realize that this next generation will be the first generation not to surpass the previous one in wealth?”
Well, everything fails by an irrelevant standard…
Judgement between generations is not new, but I wonder if some of the angst stems from our own insecurities, or jealousy of a generation that may be more balanced between work and life. Remember, some generations witness first hand how companies treated their parents during recessions, should we be surprised that after witnessing someone being treated poorly by a company, a child, coworker, or friend may not hold WORK in the same regard as a prior generation?
P.S. The generation ahead of you said the same things about you, and somehow the world survived.
I was working with a team in a laundry facility at a nursing home. They were in conflict, working long hours in a small and hot space. During the individual interview with each employee, I asked a simple question and expected a simple answer: What do you do? You, like I may have expected answers such as, “I clean laundry” “I wash soiled sheets”, but that was not the reply.
Every employee had a similar response. “We provide dignity to our residents in their last stages of life.” Completely blown away, I didn’t know how to reply, so I pressed further. “What do you mean?”
“Clean sheets each day are dignity, and another thing, we wash their personal clothes, and mend their sweaters…something that may be the last connection to their former life…that is what we do.”
Do you think someone told them that their job mattered? Absolutely. Why don’t we do this enough with positions that seem “less than” when compared against more prestigious jobs? You can start today…what are you waiting for? If you are in one of those jobs that makes life better for others, hear this: Thank You…Your Job Matters.
Know Yourself? What does that mean? Most scholars agree that the key to leadership, managing well, being a parent, or just a good member of society starts with understanding yourself. Why do you do the things you do? Why do you behave that way? What motivates you? Once you understand this, you can become the person you are destined to become…and Change the World…or at least Your World. But isn’t that what it is all about, making the world a better place?