The aroma of freshly roasted coffee and the chatter of the mockingbirds fills the air as the sunlight dances past the snow flakes, rushes over the balcony, through the window and into his private study. The fireplace crackles away at the logs he had just placed there and the glow of the flame bounces off the bookcases and blends with the sunlight. He sips his coffee and digs into the morning’s work.
The door creaks open and he turns to see who it might be. No surprise it is his best friend in life, Maxwell demanding his immediate, full and undivided attention. Maxwell moves across the room with no question who is in charge. With one bold move Maxwell takes his stand. They are now face to face and eye to eye he has come to make his point and will not be ignored. Oddly there is no tension in the room, this is a daily routine. Maxwell stretches out across the desk blocking the keyboard with his body and the pages of the morning paper with his tail, he wants his Fancy Feast.
How did it come to this? For years he worked and slaved to have such nice things. The finest cars, the most beautiful home, the most lavish meals and the grandest of vacations and now life is nothing more than one man and a cat in a twenty room house. His wife is gone, his kids won’t speak to him or each other and in this moment he is certain that his name will not cross the lips of a living soul after he is gone except to divide the spoils. This is the agony of a life not lived.
This story is repeated day after day. The wealth and fame all fade away and only shadows remain. But that is not the most heart breaking part of these stories. That honor would be reserved for the dreams not lived, the goals not pursued, the passions left burning until they burned themselves out.
We strive to get the right education, to fit into the perfect job, to earn the ideal paycheck and sacrifice on the altar of success the who that we were meant to be. Having money is about having options, but when the pursuit of success by means of wealth alone means ignoring the who that you were made to be, there is no balance in the retirement account that will buy back the days we had to become significant.
This is the rut of survival mode. Some live it begging for a new paycheck, a new job or career, or just a car that will get to work and back without breaking down. Some live in this rut with all the trappings of a successful life but the haunting fear that when they are gone it will leave behind nothing more than a battle for who gets all the stuff.
Rich and poor can both be in a rut. Single, married, education or lack of one are not indicators of living outside of the rut. Lack of fulfillment is the primary key. Lack of purpose, lack of passion, and a lack of significance all point to a rut: a grave with the ends knocked out.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself. They will help you identify the rut if you are stuck in it, and help you to see the path to your significance.
- What was your earliest childhood dream?
- Did you abandon that dream?
- Was it because you were told “You can never do that.” “You will never make any money at that.”
- Does your vision of the future look like your childhood dreams?
- Does your vision of the future look anything like where you are now?
- What three words will others say to describe you when you are gone?
- What is the greatest gift, strength or talent you possess?
- Do you use that gift, strength or talent in your vocation everyday?
- Do you use that gift, strength or talent to positively impact the quality of someone else’s life on a regular basis?
- Do you have habits that will make living your dream difficult?
If you struggled to answer these questions you might want to take a bit more time to consider them.
Live A More Excellent Life was written because I found myself asking these very questions and the answers broke my heart. I had not invested the best of me in anything more than a paycheck. I was living the life many call the rat race and I finally reached a level of frustration that I could not stand. I began to see more clearly some of the lies I had believed about myself and other people for what they were. It became clear to me that many people suffer from a lack of passion in their life because they have been robbed of it by the “demands” of life. Many believe they have no right to pursue their passions until the children are grown, the mortgage is paid off and retirement has begun. Many are bound by the habits they adopted early on that prevent them from getting, keeping and excelling in a career that they are the best in the world at. Many have no idea what they are the best in the world at because they have been told all their life they are good for nothing.
Please, join me on this journey. I am determined to take this message of hope and freedom to all who will hear. People need not live in a lifeless rut. They need not finish this magnificent journey of life and fade away like evening shadows. There is a gift inside of every one of us that the world is waiting to enjoy. Find it. Nurture it. Protect it. Grow it. Give it away!
J Loren Norris is author, speaker and coach gifted at story telling. He lives with his wife and three kids just north of Dallas, Texas where they run ThatGuyRocks.com a mobile entertainment company. When he is not DJ’ing an event he is busy studying, speaking, coaching, and writing to encourage others to find their purpose, passion and freedom.