This one strays a bit from the typical topics of my articles.
I recently wrote Lesson a book on what I call “good enough satisfaction.” It is an allegory about a man in his forties who is not happy with his life. After a magical train ride, he learns to define what satisfaction means in nine areas of his life: career, family, health, friendships, finances, leisure, spirituality, generosity, and legacy. Writing the story made me look back at my own life: the things I did well and the many mistakes I made. It inspired me to write about nine nuggets I wish I could go back in time to tell my younger self. Some I would have done the same again, others radically different. However, they are all worth writing down to stimulate your thinking about things you need to start, stop, or continue.
Your career Lesson can’t replace family, health, leisure, and friendships: In the movie The Family Man, Nicholas Cage’s character is a demanding investment banker who gets to see what his life would have been like as a husband and middle class father He comes to realize that there is much more to life than business. By all means, continue to vigorously pursue his career aspirations, but not at the expense of other important areas of his life.
don’t waste the memories: my father worked very hard as a baker; so much so that he missed many family events. In his last years he told me how he regretted missing out on so many events and milestones with my five brothers and me. Don’t look back on your life regretting that you weren’t there for the memory makers.
If you do not decide to take care of yourself, the decision will be made for you. I had an emotional breakdown in my 30s because I was wearing myself out both mentally and physically. I thought I could keep pushing and making things difficult. Wrong. I had no choice but to stop and make some changes to get healthy again. If you don’t focus on taking care of your health, something out of your control will happen that will force you to take action.
Have a couple of Lesson friends help you out at 2am, no questions asked. I was recently on vacation when a tenant at our rental property called and said the washing machine was not working. I was 3000 miles away and couldn’t get there so I called a dear friend who was at the rental in 30 minutes and addressed the issue. Having a couple of close friends you can trust to help you out of a jam is worth gold. Being someone your friend can trust is just as important.
No one cares more about your finances than you do: When I graduated from college, I bought three books on investing. Those books formed the basis of my investment discipline. Sometimes, though, I let others who didn’t have my best interests at heart manage the investments on my behalf. Now I manage every dollar myself and keep up with investment strategies. Putting your money in the hands of a paid consultant will ensure that the bread arrives at your table along with your money. Do as much of this on your own as you can.
Work-life balance Lesson means slowing down, not speeding up. I know too many people who work 60+ hours during the week just to cram “life” activities into the weekend. They had work/life balance, but they managed it by running 100 miles per hour. Leisure time should include time to relax and recharge, so use at least part of it to rest and be careful not to pack too much into your life.
preach with your beliefs: whatever your spiritual beliefs (mine are Christian), don’t be a Jekyll and Hyde in what you say and do. Cursing a storm in meetings during the work week and then going to church on Sunday just doesn’t add up. This is not about judging your belief system; it’s more about making sure your actions align with your beliefs.
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