Life has a way of passing us by, even as we’re busy attending to its trials and tribulations. Before we know it, moments have shifted, seasons have ended, and years have slipped by—almost as if life were avoiding our gaze.
Sometimes, as if life were sorry it doesn’t last forever, it sends us reminders to pay attention. An illness strikes, or a loved one passes away. Perhaps a near-death experience pulls us out of our stupor. But before long, life grabs us back into its daily churn, and lulls us into its distracted monotony.
None of this would be a problem if we were mere animals, surviving in the moment and living for the day. But we’re human beings, also burdened with a soul that questions us in the quiet of the morning and in the stillness of the night. And with uncanny candor, it asks, “Is the life you’re living the life that you’re born to live?”
Many of us silence this voice in the noise and distractions of day-to-day living. But when these distractions no longer entice us, perhaps in the solitude of the latter part of our lives, the voice will rise again: “Did you live the life you were born to live?” And there will be no avoiding it.
If you haven’t given this question much thought, perhaps now is the time to begin working on an answer.
Ask Yourself: What Does Success Mean to Me?
Each of us has our own definition of a successful life based on our values and ideals. A good way to gain clarity on it is to think of the people you admire. How are they living their lives? Perhaps you’ll think of a few such people and draw out the commonalities among them. As you do so, think ahead 10 to 20 years from now. If you were living your most successful life, what would you be doing? What would an ideal day look like? What difference would you be making—and for whom? How would people feel around you? The more thought you give these questions, the more excited you become about living the life that wants to live within you.
Ask Yourself: How Am I Currently Living My Life?
Spend some time thinking about whether you’re living in alignment with your ideal life. Where are you currently spending your time? How are you interacting with others? What pursuits are you involved in? If you see big gaps, you may want to reflect on why this is so. Perhaps the standards you’ve set for yourself are too high, or perhaps there are deep-seated fears that are limiting you. It may also be that you’re going through a transitional period of growth or change that is temporarily consuming you. More often than not, though, discrepancies exist because we’re simply carrying on with life, without a clear vision, distracted by impulses and emotions, pulled whichever way the wind blows.
Ask Yourself: What Can I Begin Doing Today?
If you feel that you’re leaving behind a trail you don’t necessarily want to call your own, then take a deep breath of total acceptance, and trust that you’re exactly where you’re supposed to be in your life. Release the tension of disappointment, regret, and should that may have begun raising a critical voice. Know that your entire life has been preparing you for this moment—whether it’s a moment of realization, reflection, or celebration. Pat yourself on the back for having made it thus far, and plan how you will journey forward. How will you structure your days to move incrementally toward your highest vision? What goals will you set? What activities will you prioritize? What habits will you create? And, most important, what step toward it will you take today?
I like to think of this process as designing your life. Consider it a puzzle where the pieces represent everything about you—your strengths, weaknesses, challenges, experiences, expertise, and values. How will you piece them all together into a beautiful reflection of the journey you undertook, the lessons you learned, and the evidence you left behind?
Because that’s the answer your soul will eventually seek.