My universe is converging in interesting ways right now.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about developing a reputation and being memorable. Then, as it turns out, a dear friend died last Friday. This was a gentleman who brought great joy and peace to many people over his lifetime.
When I first met Wayne in 1997, his son had just died in a horrible car wreck. In the midst of their grief, Wayne and his wife Kay made a conscious choice to forgive the person who caused the accident.
I mean, really forgive. They asked the cops to not press charges, and supported him in his own recovery.
I find that phenomenal.
And it raises questions about what’s REALLY important in life.
We tend to get all wrapped up in issues of jobs, careers, balancing demands. Not that those are unimportant, but what do they say about our character? Our purpose for being on this planet?
I was a pretty good student, but I have to admit that the reason I got through college was because I had a compelling vision of the life I wanted once I graduated. So when schoolwork was boring or painful, it gave me the energy to work it through.
Nowadays, I tend to focus more on issues of purpose and character. Both of those aren’t things I’ll ever be able to achieve, but instead are a framework for making decisions in my life.
Here’s a way to get started: Imagine that, as of right now, you’ll never be able to do your current job ever again. Yes, that’s painful, but remember that this is just a mental exercise. I’m not going to ask you to actually do it.
After you get through the grief of a shock like that, you start realizing the larger questions:
- What is it that gives my life value beyond holding a job?
- What role do I play in this world of 7 billion people?
- What would leave me most fulfilled at the end of my life?
And, of course, the traditional question, “What do I want on my tombstone?” It’s been used so much that it’s almost trite, but the fact is that it can be incredibly powerful.
As you start discerning some answers to these questions – they can take a lifetime to explore fully – you can provide more direction for your life. They’re especially helpful with issues of work/life balance and how you choose to apply your discretionary time. But they also support healthier relationships and career choices.
Get your head out of your job for a little while. What’s the bigger picture of your life?