We have discussed before how we make life and leadership more complicated than we need to. Both are fun to write about, especially life. Writing about life is easy. Living life is messy. Although well-crafted inspirational life messages serve a purpose, there are some very simple principles to keep in mind and stay on a meaningful path.
An average life may mean we just tread along. We do our work. We do what is necessary to survive and provide. Some may argue it takes resources to live an above average life, and they are right. Money can make a difference. More than money, however, is what we decide to do and how much effort we put into what we really want.
Let’s draw it out. If an average life is a straight line, we move along. Our effort is the minimum. Our choices are made to stay on a narrow path.
Now, let’s add in our dreams. If we have a dream of what we would like to do, what we would like to achieve, and what positive impact we would like to have, then we put a star out in the distance of what is possible. We can visualize it but now we need to figure out how to move toward our dream.
In life, we make choices. Some choices are positive while others are negative. The choices we make either move us closer to our dream or further from it. Choices can include:
- What we choose to learn and when
- What jobs we choose to take and those we don’t
- What relationships we choose to engage in and those we avoid
- What we do to our bodies is a choice, especially as it relates to drugs and alcohol or water and vegetables (call it lifestyle choices)
We can make choices to move us closer to our dream or further from it.
The same is true for the effort we put into our thoughts and actions. Do we do just enough to skate by, or do we take the extra time to learn a little more, do a little more than what is just needed? Like it or not, life takes effort. Dreams take even more effort. Your choice.
There seems to be three types of people:
Type 1: People who choose to do just the minimum and avoid risk
Type 2: People who make mostly positive choices and put in extra effort
Type 3: People who make mostly negative choices and misplace their efforts
What happens is either we put in our effort and choices to get us closer to our dream or we make choices and apply our efforts to get us further from our dream. At some point, usually years later, those Type 3 individuals wake up from their bad choices and misplaced efforts and realize they should be doing something differently. They recover. Check themselves into a program to get back on track. All good but now even more effort needs to be applied since they moved themselves further and further from their original dream.
More than recovery, redemption may be needed. The good news is for those who wake-up do so with a renewed energy and focus. What they realize (finally) is they have wasted so much time and talent and they need to double or triple their efforts. And this extra effort and better choices will eventually just get them to the straight line. More effort and positive choices are then required to move beyond this point.
No one is perfect. I know this. However, we have the power of effort and choice. We have our talents ready to be used. Now, we just need to try to make the most out of the time we have to achieve our dream.
We also need to know that any life path will have challenges along the way. We just need to be ready to deal with them.
No matter if you are in the beginning of your college or work career. No matter if you are in the middle of your career or near the end. There is still time. For younger generations, learn from past generations and their stories of recovery and redemption and try to make more positive choices and apply more positive effort than any negative or minimum efforts. For older generations, use your remaining time to make better choices and put in the extra effort now to achieve your envisioned dream.
Simple, right? In many ways, life is this simple. We just get distracted by what seems popular, fun, normal, or comfortable. Life simply takes effort and more good choices than bad. Add in a strong dash of self-reflection, problem-solving, and openness to grow and change along the way and you will live life well.