I've been thinking a lot lately about my "life's work". A brief history : I've had a few different "careers". Each time I ended one, it was in (frequently mutual) disgust, and each time I entered a new one, it was with excitement that THIS would bring me the life of my dreams. My current career - that of being life coach and personal growth guy - began with the promise of showing me the answers to all my questions about existence. I wrote about life experience, I wrote about seeking a deeper meaning in life and all of its components, I bore my heart and soul, I shared about recovery, and I shared about truths that were revealed through these processes.
It was gratifying and cathartic. I was relieved of many burdens as I helped others navigate life's challenges. It felt good to be honest (at times, painfully so) , and it felt good to serve my fellow man.
Then the work began.
When I say this is my life's work, I am implying that there is an income that results from my efforts. And when I intend to earn a living at something, it implies I have something of value to provide those who would pay me. This means I need to research and model myself after those who have walked this path before me, dig endlessly within to find my connection and truth through these people, learn how to lead meditation, perform reiki, hold retreats, speak at crowded seminars, write books, inspire thousands to heed the wisdom of my words....
Holy shit! I want to go back to what I did before!
I aspire to positively affect others, the way some of my heroes - Toni Robbins, Deepak Chopra, Wayne Dyer, Mastin Kipp, etc - have (I won't even mention the Big Boys - Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Jesus Christ). I try to be inspired by all they have done, and yet I find myself envious of all that they have achieved and doubt that I will ever attain that level of service.
Part of the reason I got into this line of work was to do something that actually means something to me. And because I felt I needed to start giving back to the universe that has provided me with so many gifts and gotten me through so many messes. But I listen to a guy like Brendon Burchard (another hero of mine) say "Live. Love. Matter" and I feel this intense urgency to do great things RIGHT NOW!!!
Of course, the greatest thing a person can do is : on a daily basis, find forgiveness for yesterday's mistakes, aspire to be the greatest self today, and prepare for the unknown challenges that will come tomorrow. If you do this every day of your life, people will be talking about you and the fantastic accomplishments you achieved in your lifetime long after you're gone.
But when I have a few hours alone - the kids and wife are gone for the afternoon, and I have no specific deadlines to meet, do I make the best use of every minute that I have? Do I read the book by Dr Daniel Amen that I've been meaning to read? Do I watch an online inspirational video by Gabrielle Bernstein or Marie Forleo? Do I look at the latest post by Tim Ferriss? Do I take the time to let some or all of this new, highly valued information soak into my bones and affect my life? Or do I watch Sons of Anarchy while thinking that there is NO WAY Eckert Tolle would waste his time this way?
The answer is : yes.
I do all of these things, and sometimes I do one thing to an extent that I can't get to the other things. And sometimes it feels incredibly overwhelming to have so many high aspirations and so few hours in the day. And sometimes I ask - "Why do I waste time on the trivial, mundane, uninspiring clutter that does nothing to lift me up spiritually?"
It's because that inane garbage is vacuous content that gives my brain a rest from the hard work I put it through. If I aspire to one day be on par with some of the awesome people I mentioned earlier, I have to do it my way, following the path the universe lays out for me. And if a day goes by where the only tangible thing I do is write a blog post, then that's ok.
The effort life requires is enough without the added burden of the guilt I lay on myself because I think I should have done more. The self-deprecation that follows will make me wallow in self-created failure.
And there is no failure! Only giving up.
I choose to do neither.
Nor should you. So, the next time you find yourself "wasting" a few minutes, hours, or days by not pursuing your ultimate goals, remember : it's all a process, life takes as much time as it takes, and pushing too hard can cause it to push back. If you focus too hard on the endgame, you may miss the ride. And, really, that's what life is all about - the ride, mistakes and all.