Don’t Let Life Happen To You
It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live. – Marcus Aurelius (121-80 AD, Roman Emperor, Philosopher)
It’s hard to believe that we are nearing the end of another year. As I write this, snow is falling in Colorado, the makings of a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner are in the kitchen, and our newspapers are filled with holiday ads. The end of the year always tends to be a time of reflection as we look back on the accomplishments of the past year and look forward to a new year. It’s also a time to reflect on our lives and ensure that we are living the life we want.
It’s easy to look at ones life and be content with where you are. You have a good job, a spouse or significant other, children, a nice car, and all of the trappings of success. Clearly you are well on your way to success. But the real question is, are you happy with what you are doing?
No, this is not an article about the spiritual side of your life. Normally these articles focus all of the attention on management and leadership concepts that you can use to shape your career, improve your performance, and move up the ladder of success. But as we enter a new year it is important to take a step back and make sure that the path you are on is the right path for you.
You see life has a way of just happening to people. Your first job tends to be the job that you were first offered, in an industry that may or may not really interest you, doing what you may or may not have a real talent in. Your career then tends to grow from there. You get promoted or change companies, but tend to stay with what you are familiar with and what you have done in the past. Months turn into years and at some point in time you find that you are on a career path that you never really intended to be on at all. It may be a great, wonderful career path doing all of the things that are important to you, or it may be a path where you have had some successes, but don’t find inspiring.
In short, your life has been on autopilot. That is when you know that life has happened to you.
You didn’t plan to be where you are. And while you are not unhappy with where you are, you are not happy with it either. It does not speak to your inner being.
The purpose of life is to live a life of purpose. – Richard Leider
As you sit down in the coming weeks to plan your new years resolutions, take a few extra minutes to think about where you are in your life and where you are in your career. If you have not made a life plan in the past, start one now. Identify your core values. Identify what is important to you in life and in your career. Figure out were you want to be in 10 years and make sure your current path will take you there.
Your life is a fairy tale, with the journey unscripted. Take control of your life and write your own script. Understand your desires and passions and build a plan for your life that will be a source of happiness and pride. It may be in management and leadership. It may be in the arts. But whatever it is, make sure that you control your life and that your life does not just happen to you.