This summer, I took a trip with my family to Maine and New Hampshire. Maine and New Hampshire are states on the East Coast of the U.S.A. in case you didn’t know. The entire population of both states is under 3 million people! Going into this trip, we knew this wasn’t going to be a city trip. The plan was to enjoy some time together and enjoy the outdoors.
On this trip, we were able to really slow down. It was amazing to appreciate things like the roaring of a waterfall, the quiet of the forest, and sunsets that engulfed the sky. Because the region had much fewer city lights than I’m used to, it was also quite the sight to sit back at night and take in the universe of stars above me.
This trip gave me perspective. I’m sure for those who’ve experienced some quality time away from home, you can relate. It was the perspective of enjoying the natural essence of life, and making time for what matters most. And I firmly believe that these memorable moments, whatever they are, are some of the most important parts of life.
Living like a Child
Do you remember the days of your childhood? While adults are up to their ‘grownup’ things, kids are busy making their fun on their own. Responsibilities for kids consist of finding the best way to use pocket change at the candy store and coming home on time for dinner. Birthday parties are the major priorities in a child’s calendar, and times with friends are what matter most. Time is slow, times are fun, and life has zeal.
Compare those days to your adult life. There is simply more on the line for adults. There is the necessity to make a living and earn money to support yourself and others. There is the requirement to perform at a high level in your area of expertise. There are people who rely on you, both personally and professionally. With more success comes more scrutiny and responsibility too.
Clearly, a child lives more care-free and an adult has more to consider. However, a child doesn’t always have the opportunity to make their own choices and are bound by certain rules, experiences, limitations and born-into circumstances. And there is also so much freedom that comes with being an adult, like traveling, doing the things you love and experiencing new adventures. How can the joys of being a child, and the responsibilities of being an adult, become reconciled?
If you have ever picked up the book How to Win Friends and Influence People, or if you haven’t, there is a story in the book titled Father Forgets. Check out my article on it here if you want to read more about it. Essentially, the story is about a father/son relationship that is reconciled through empathy. The story begins with a father who criticizes his son for not living up to the perfect standards the father expects of his son, even though his son is just a little boy. And by the end of the story, the father learns the importance of appreciating his son because of the simple love and joy his son brings to his life.
How about being both: As an adult, you have the freedom to choose the life you want to live. But take a lesson from the kids out there. Live like a child and embrace the joys of life. Remember the things that truly matter.
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Achievement vs. Fulfillment
A goal is a special thing because it sets a desire into action. For anyone that has set and achieved a goal, you know the feeling that comes from its achievement. If that goal is achieved, it becomes a special moment because an idea has turned into something you manifested. Although it takes hard work and effort, there’s something rewarding about the hard work, the grind, the late nights because the work you put in sets you on a new personal journey.
Reaching a goal is an amazing thing. A reward or celebration can often follow because of your joy of achievement. Not everyone deals with the reward in the same way. There are some people that would take their reward and immediately push forward to new heights. Meanwhile, there is also the chance for a goal to make you feel stuck. How does that happen? After all the hard work and effort, and now what? Is this all there really is? It can be scary not to achieve a goal, but it can be equally as scary to be unfulfilled by reaching it.
There is more to a goal than it’s achievement. What’s most important is the person you become in the process. No matter the result, a success or a failure can truly be a fulfilling result if you give your all, you learned something, and you became a different person in the process. That is why I believe in the non-linear nature of goals and always adjusting. A goal is about who you are becoming, not about the result.
Let’s take a cue from the hip-hop world on this topic. What resonates with me in the third verse at 3:26 of Drake’s song Is There More is the message about the value of what should constitute the important things in life. At the end of the day, what matters most?
So enjoy the process, not just the destination. There is so much to learn and become. Keep your sights on what’s most important, because the end result is not everything.
The Meaning of Wealth
The most commonly accepted definition of wealth is being a measure of money and possessions. Essentially, wealth being the accumulation of wealth as the number in your bank account. This used to be my paradigm as well. I wasn’t seeing the bigger picture though. In fact, the accumulation of money is only a by-product of wealth, because wealth is a mindset.
One of my favorite personal development speakers, Bob Proctor, sums up the definition of wealth perfectly. He believes in wealth being the right that everyone has to be rich, develop it and attain it. Rather than wealth being a pursuit of material possessions, wealth is a mindset of expectation and gratitude. Essentially, wealth is, therefore, an extension of the person you are inside. And the value you provide in terms of your services in the market will translate into your equivalent monetary rewards.
Check out this awesome new commercial I came across from Sun Life, an insurance company in Canada. The value of accumulating wealth, as the commercial depicts, is not about the numbers in your bank account, but about the relationships you share, your happiness inside, and the fun you can have by enjoying the things that bring you joy, including money, possessions and even a beautiful home.
Often, the idea of wealth takes on this negative connotation as being a selfish pursuit. It’s easy to get caught up in, especially when the people that have material riches can accumulate so much. But it starts inside. It starts with the mindset of gratitude and the expectation of receiving. It’s something everyone has the ability to achieve.
Wealth is not just money. It starts in the mind and fills up all areas of life. Remember what makes you most alive, and that’s what makes you wealthy.
So important but often left up to mechanics, are the maps we hold in our heads. Maps, also known as paradigms, are the beliefs we have that determine the way we see the world. Everyone has a map for everything whether we know it or not. But the maps we use are often developed and determined by instinct over time and shaped by our most important influences. Even though most maps may be subconscious, we have the choice of which maps to use, and the ability to update these maps.
There is a moral compass inside us that knows our way and knows what’s most important to us. Leaning into it is the difference between self-actualization and a life determined by others. Each of us has faculties inside us that by trusting them, we can start becoming closer to the person we really are, not the person someone tells us we should be.
Be more, accept more, explore more, and do less. What do I mean by that? It means that by being more open to everything around you, you can begin to put yourself in charge again. Whether it’s on a getaway, a vacation or the 5 minutes before bed, take time to appreciate the details. We have 5 senses, we have people that love us, we have great things in our lives, and we also have the little voice in the back of our head that keeps us honest. Quieting that voice can set you in charge again.
I find this topic is summed up well in the song All About You by Classified. 2:40 in, the message is about following your inner compass and doing what makes YOU happy. Not about succumbing to the voices that don’t know what’s best for us.
Do what you love. There is always the choice to follow your heat or follow the crowd.
Although the goals I currently have in my 20s focus mostly on career and personal development, I am realizing that I am also very content with pursuing the things that interest me. For example, I have recently recommitted to learning a new language (Greek) and re-learning the piano (which I used to play when I was younger).
I’m not aiming to read The Iliad in Ancient Greek, or becoming a piano prodigy like Beethoven. But it’s less about the destination, and more about the learning, the growth, and the journey for me. That’s what’s fuelling these interests.
Let me pass it on to one of my favorite authors, Paulo Coelho, and his classic story of the fisherman and the businessman. Let this be a reminder to keep the important things in perspective and make time for what matters most.