In my last blog I addressed the need for many of us to change the direction of our lives. Eckart Tolle once said: “It’s not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” So, whether you are young in your 20’s and feeling lost, or stuck in middle age and struggling with frustration, or ready to retire and unsure of what you should do, I suggest that the same solution – the same pathway – applies equally to each of you. Do you remember what I stressed in the last blog (Part I)?
Before I answer that question, let me address a recent article on the Harding family. They have 10 children, ages 11 to 26. Seven of the children entered college around the age of 11-13. Of their children, they have produced an engineer, an architect, a doctor, a computer scientist, a musician / composer, and an adolescent who is considered a law degree. All of their children were home schooled. Were they geniuses? No. But they followed a set of principles; and they are the same principles that I suggest for any age – and for any new beginning.
As parents, the Hardings let their children explore their individual interests. They supported each child’s curiosity by always asking questions about each separate area of interest. They helped each child discover a true passion. They tried to tap into those interests to further inspire them. Lastly, they let each of them go their own path – not the path the parents thought might be best for them. For those children, their exploration was a successful adulthood – with a pathway where they could follow their passion. Right now, that is precisely what you need to do.
As discussed in the prior blog, you need to rediscover your lost areas of interest. You need to re-ignite some old passions. You need to develop some buried talents. You need to fill your life with those activities – the activities that have the potential to give you so much joy. Please notice. You do not need to become the best in any area of passion. You just need to develop that passion to the best of your ability. In truth, happiness does not require greatness. Happiness comes from getting better at anything you love. Happiness requires energy, time, and a fascination with the journey. As with life, don’t focus on the destination. Focus on the journey.
From my prior blog, my other recommendations were offered to balance this new pursuit of renewed dreams / passions / talents / areas of interest. You cannot do them alone. You need a solid foundation. For me, that initial foundation starts with the key relationships within your life. If you want to change your world (and even your job), start from the inside out. Yes, deprioritize your work. Shift your focus to home – to those relationships with your spouse, your children, your other family members, your neighbors, and your community. It’s like the Mary Angelou quote: “Living is like constructing a building; if you start wrong, you will end up wrong.” Ironically, your home is a great place to start for changing your work.
For the starting point of changing your life and creating a new direction, rebuild your foundation, re-establish the quality of your relationships, and then focus your energies on your new dreams / passions / talents / areas of interest. Be like those Harding children. Receive support from your family and friends. Then discover and follow the key activities that have the potential to give you so much happiness. Retrieve those interests and activities that have been discarded, and bring them back into the core of your life. Remember the 80:20 rule and expand the crucial 20% of activities toward a larger and larger portion of your new daily life.
There is another area of your new life that I have not discussed. It is more than your connection to others; it is your connection to God. I am addressing spirituality, not religion. We already have 730 established religions and 3,200 different sects – with most of the followers believing that their religion is the best religion, if not the only religion. I prefer Gandhi’s famous line: “In heaven there is no religion; there is only God.” My recommendation is simple. As you rebuild the strength of your relations, as your recapture your dreams and passions, try to make certain that you develop a sense of connection with the world. Today, that sense of connection seems missing with so many people.
Think about all of our recent tragedies. Shootings in schools. Shootings on our military bases. Shootings in theaters and stores. Are those perpetrators connected to their passions? Are they connected to their dreams? Are they connected to their spouse? Are they connected to their closest friends and neighbors? Are they connected to God – and not to just a religion? The answer is no. The message should be obvious. Disconnected people fall apart, often spiraling into a tragedy. Connected people – with connections in all the key areas of life – soar to a life of happiness, joy, and satisfaction.
Yes, it is easier to change directions when you are a child. Maybe that is why so many initial areas of passion emerge between the ages of 7-14. But it is possible at any age. History is full of people who found their passion late in life, developed their new talents, and made great contributions to life. Creativity does not decrease with age. But I am not preaching a pursuit of greatness. I am preaching pursuit of happiness. I am preaching a rebirth of the joy that comes with the journey. Too often we are obsessed with the destination – and the results of the destination. Instead, focus on the present. Focus on your progress. Focus on your joy. Focus on your new path – your new direction.
Are you ready to make the above changes? Are you ready to shift direction toward new areas of interest? If you think there is no urgency, then do me a favor. Check out this YouTube video, The Time You Have (In Jelly Beans). Then watch the YouTube video The Power of Words. See how a slight change in a phrase (or the use of words) can change a life. Well, a slight change in your life direction, your areas of passion, and your relationships can make a massive change in the quality of your existence and the level of happiness, joy, and satisfaction. Your life can be great. Watch these videos and start making those changes!