Live a Deliberate Life

Three outlandish wishes today:

  1. I want make a living on my writing and photography.
  2. I want to travel the world.
  3. I want a family.
  4. I want all of my loved ones to be safe, happy, and healthy.

Okay, I made four. The first three are selfish ones focused on me – ha, ha! It’s the three things I want the most. The last one, though, is the most important. I want everyone I love to be safe, happy, and healthy.

I’m really struggling right now trying to figure out what I want most so this was a good exercise to think about. On the one hand, I want to continue to be selfish and on my own and travel and take pictures. But, in many ways, this is a very empty life. In 20 years, what will I have to show for it? Just a lot of pictures and maybe some friends and some writing. I’m not saying I don’t think it’s worth it, but life is about friends and family. I want a family.

With that, though, I still want to write and travel and take pictures as well. But, mostly, I want people to love who love me back and support me and vice-versa. Life is nothing without goals and without a purpose. Family and loved ones give an obvious and important focus.

I have been thinking a lot about when I first graduated from college and got a job in purchasing. Man, that was a boring job. I came home from work after a month or so and asked my mom, “Is this it? Is this life?” She said, “Yeah. This is it.” I thought that was incredibly depressing. I mean, we just got up and went to work every day then made dinner, watched tv or worked out, went to bed and did the same thing all over again the next day. It sounded horrible.

But she was right.

And she was wrong.

Yes, life is an endless cycle of work, errands, sleep, and meals. But it’s up to each of us to imbue meaning into every day. Smile at someone. Listen to someone. Have a goal for a promotion or to learn a new skill or make a new friend. Volunteer. Spend time with friends. Find a reason to laugh.

That’s the lesson I’ve learned over time. Not every job is going to one we feel passionately about or be something we want to do – but every job should meet a need. That need may be as simple and important as paying the bills. If that’s the case then find meaning elsewhere. Use that job to pay the bills and put a few dollars aside, if possible, to save for a fun night out with friends or a gift for a loved one. Or use your free time to visit someone in the hospital or mow the lawn for your dad or cook dinner for a friend or knit a hat for a cancer patient.

Live a deliberate life. Know why you work. Know what you want to accomplish. Know how you want to feel every day and what it takes to make that happen.

Every day is a new beginning, not part of an endlessly dreary cycle. It’s a chance to make your piece of the world a little better. You may not do something big that saves the world in an obvious way, but everything creates a ripple. And the ripple you create could save the world in such a subtle way that you never even know. So be your own hero every day by living life with joy and purpose.

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