How do you know when you’re where you want to be?
Are you there yet? Have you found it? That job you’ve always wanted, the person you will spend your life with? Many times throughout my life I have been asked, “What do you want to do when you get older?” The person asking this almost always implied what do I want to do to earn money, but as a child, we interpret this as the character we would like to become.
Little did we know, our culture seemingly grinds down the ideas of character, legacy, impact, and so on. We go into a job looking to change the world. We most often come out sour and tired after being told what to do all day. This is not all people, as some thrive in this type of environment. I applaud you and am sincerely happy for your ability to do so. I, and many others who may not realize it yet shine in areas where we can create ourselves.
We do well in environments that have us working towards a goal, ultimately, towards a better relationship with someone. Whether this is a collaborative project for a new technology, a sports team, or a new design in a business setting, creative individuals thrive in environments that don’t always have a schedule. While this article is written from the perspective of a “non-manager”, the principle applies to all scenarios.
On the path to getting to where we want to go, we often get sidetracked, stop to help people, and get turned around sometimes. For some, it may seem like you are downright lost. This can happen to all ages, for any amount of time, and at any point during the journey. Some of us are born feeling lost, while others spend years at their “dream job” to find out that they never really liked it after all. Whatever the case, we all experience this. It is a part of being human and growing up.
Sell the experience, not the stuff.
Regardless of where you are going, or what you are trying to accomplish, every one of us ends up trading, essentially selling the same thing: our time. As most of us assume that the focus of whatever we are doing is controlled by the money we make, or what it costs, we lose sight of how valuable our time is. We forget that money is something that we have created, therefore it is controlled by us. Unfortunately, many people are controlled by their income.
All jobs, all ways of acquiring money include interactions with other people. Again, we have become so used to this process that many are focused on what the thing is, (the item, product, service, etc) instead of who we are working with. We have not been trained properly on how to stay determined and focused through the monotony. We have not been taught how to love the process of repetition. Most importantly, we have not been taught to focus on the who and why instead of the what and how.
What and how are vital components to any equation, but without the who and why they are irrelevant. What and how are the practical and logical sides of the task, while who and why are the purpose and feeling driving the task. Whether you work at a fast food restaurant, the ER, or in an office 15 stories up, your job exists because of human beings. You may not be directly interacting with people every second, but from the macro perspective, the machine you are apart of is run, organized, controlled, and created by humans.
With that in mind, do you enjoy your daily tasks? Are you ecstatic and energetic to get out of bed to start the day? Or are you dreading going and doing the thing? If you are selling pleasurable, memorable, and/or healthy experiences, you most likely are pretty satisfied. If all of your time goes towards making someone else wealthy at the expense of many, you may be selling stuff. In my experience, people are much happier when they remember the experience. Yes, there was stuff when it happened, but what stuck was who it happened with, and why it happened.
We create our own mazes.
Every single human problem that exists is exactly that, a human problem. No, hurricanes and thunderstorms are not human problems, rather nature’s problem with where we have decided to settle down. There is nothing we can do about the weather, (unless we learn to control it?) and to an extent, what other people do either. What we can change is ourselves. Ever notice how easily influenced children are? How trusting they are in what you tell them? We hear this and immediately fear that they will be corrupted. Yet when they grow up, they end up having the same fear for their children that we do now. Are we really doing as much right as we think we are?
An old friend once told me that he spent the first 22 years of his life getting an education. He spent the next 22 years unlearning all of the information he was taught. This is not to say that what we learn in school is wrong; reading, writing, mathematics, and understanding how the physical world works are very important. So is how we came about. What isn’t taught is how to socialize properly, how to be a good son or daughter, how to be a good parent. What isn’t taught is the full, uncensored history of our species. What isn’t always taught is how to fluently navigate emotional hardships, and establish sustainable habits and relationships.
Fortunately, individuals scattered throughout societies all across the globe have recognized this, and are doing their own part to help others. Granted, they sometimes are few and far between. The wonderful thing is that anyone, anywhere can step up and create the next role. What all of us take for granted is that just by waking up, by being alive, we have won the day. If we have added value to the time of one single person, we are successful. Even if it is something as simple as asking a question or sharing a smile, it helps.
The spirit that moves within all of us is what keeps us connected, what gives us energy every day, and what keeps us alive in times of hardship and stress. We may not always feel it, we hardly see it or hear it, but it is a constant, like the beating of your heart. The problem today with our society is that we feel we must go through rigid steps and dogmas in order to access it, only after showing that we are unworthy by the standards of a religion or diety. In my discoveries, this spirit is accessible at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. It is selfless, always giving, and a part of every single one of us. The next article will detail how to access said spirit.
Time is the most valuable commodity that we will ever barter with. Whether that time is with loved ones, co-workers, or strangers, It is our duty as humans to not only add value to every interaction we have but also strive to be the best we can be. Not better than one another, but better than we were the day before. Wherever your impact is made, however, you help people, and whatever goal you are working towards, realize that the continual trade of time for money is a one time deal. We can make money in a million+ different ways. We can only live right now once. Make the most of the time you have left.