Monday, April 18, 2011

A Life Well Lived

I read an article recently where they described the life of a well known author as a live 'well-lived'. That descriptive phrase stuck with me and I have to admit that I have been mulling it over for a number of weeks. In the end, I am still left with the question... What does a life well-lived look like?

Granted, we likely are all going to have our own highly individualized interpretations of what a life well-lived will mean to us. This is as it should be because, in the end, it is our life! However, I would hazard a guess that there are few of us that would look at a 60+ hour work week, spent pushing through someone else's projects and initiatives, with our off hours attached to the office through all of the devices that were supposed to save us time.. as indicative of the good life!

Instead, many find themselves living lives of quiet and consuming frustration, working consistently long hours, at a job they hate, to buy things they don't need, in order to impress people they don't like.  A life well-lived?  I think not!

Instead... we need to take back control and design our own lives.  Leaving it up to someone else simply means we spend our time fulfilling their needs and wants, never our own.  As for leaving our lives and careers in the hands of a corporation... well... let's face it.  Even the best intentioned companies want the most out of you that they possibly can. 

The Work...

To start...  write your definition.  What does a life well-lived look like to you?  Imagine it, then describe it.

Now... weigh your existing 'life' against it.  There are likely gaps, things you aren't doing and things you're doing too much of.  Did you have words like I couldn't, I shouldn't coming to mind?  Those are key trigger words for Fear.  Fear of trying something new, fear of failing, fear of embarassment, fear of ... something.  In order to live that life you imagined, it will be necessary to fight through that fear, to push beyond it.  The good news though... you don't need to push through in one giant leap.

Consider what small changes and steps you could make now that would move you closer toward truly living within the life you have, the life you've been given.  Begin taking control and consciously crafting a life of your choosing.  With list in hand... pick one action step that you can do now and... do it!

As for my definition of a life well-lived?  I've always been partial to the vision in my mind stimulated by the following description I once read somewhere (sorry, I don't know who to credit for this and I am paraphrasing...)

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO- HOO what a ride!"
That's my vision.  What's yours?

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