The other day I was on a long car ride with my 14-year-old daughter. We were singing along to our favorite country songs, and laughing and joking about nothing in particular, when it suddenly hit me that there was nowhere else I’d rather be than right there in that moment.
Sure, a beach vacation is fun, or perhaps hobnobbing through Italy on a quest for the best pizza, or maybe an African safari adventure, but right then, driving down the interstate, I felt so happy being with her, just doing the simplest thing, that I thought, “It just doesn’t get much better than this.”
We’ve all been there. Maybe it was an impromptu night around a campfire with friends, or a driveway party with your neighbors and some cold beer. Those moments that are unplanned and spontaneous, but turn out to be some of the best of your life.
These are the moments that make up our lives.
Why, then, do we rarely let these elusive times into our lives? We’re so damn busy with our busyness, and we’ve deemed all of it really, really, really important.
What is it we’re really after? All the hustle, the long hours, the stress, the pushing, straining, sacrificing. What’s our end goal?
For many of us, we’ve been taught that it pays off in the long run. We’ll have enough accomplishments, accolades, success and money, to live the life of our dreams. But what the hell does that even mean?
What is the life of our dreams? Of your dreams?
Get really honest with yourself. Has your dream always been to work your tail off, missing out on important moments, or never creating amazing memories, so that when you’re in your late sixties or seventies you can finally start living your life? You can finally feel secure enough or successful enough to be yourself, or do the things you want to do, or feel free?
That’s garbage, and you know it.
No little kid is sitting around saying, “When I grow up, I want to work in a grey-taupe colored, windowless cubicle or office, doing work so boring I could stab myself in the temple with my pen, stressed out of my mind enough to get heart disease, but contribute a healthy portion of my income into a steady-growing 401-K so that by the time I have grandchildren I can enjoy riding a bike alongside the lake shore.”
You were not this little kid. No one was.
Somewhere along the way, we all learned to trade our dreams for security and stability. Security and stability are false constructs we have bought into based on the faith and trust we’re putting into institutions and businesses hoping that they’ll never fail us.
I’m certainly not suggesting you don’t save your money and invest wisely in your future. But I am saying that putting off your life until some time in the future is insane. Besides, how much time do you have left? Are you absolutely sure of how many days you’ve got remaining on this planet? Are you certain you’re going to make it long after the traditional retirement age?
While security and stability feel nice, that’s not what you’re really after. When you sit down to establish your goals, to think about that next carrot you’re chasing, at the end of the day, what you want is freedom, happiness, and love.
Oh, I know this sounds like hippy-dippy, unrealistic, Pollyanna crap to some, but boil it down for a second.
Q. Why do you want to make a lot of money?
A. So that I can buy the things I need and want and invest in my future.
Q. What do you want to buy things you need and want?
A. For a more comfortable life.
Q. Why do you want to invest in the future?
A. So that I don’t worry about my needs and the needs of my family being met when I’m old.
Q. Why do you want a more comfortable life, and want your family to have a comfortable life?
A. Because I don’t want to struggle and I don’t want my family to struggle.
Q. Why don’t you want to struggle and why don’t you want your family to struggle?
A. Because I want to enjoy life and want my family to enjoy life.
Q. Why do you want to enjoy life and want your family to enjoy their lives?
A. Because life is beautiful, and I love my family.
Q. Are there things you can do right now to enjoy life and your family that don’t require high levels of achievement or income? Things that create incredible moments and memories?
A. You are clearly a ridiculously intelligent, enlightened, and good-looking blogger.
My question to you today is, are freedom, happiness, and love unattainable without the hustle, struggle, and stress? Can you choose those things NOW without having achieved some tangible level of success?
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