Monday, November 10, 2014

Getting to Your Life Work

Image by John Haslam


It might be more important than you realize...


A silly story is told about a farmer who stopped by his neighbors' home to let them know them that their son was stuck in a mud hole. "How deep is he sunk?" the boy's father asked.

"About to his knees," the farmer replied. He looked decidedly unconcerned.

"Well," said the father, "only up to his knees -- we've got time to set awhile an' jaw before we go."

"I don't think so," the visitor answered. "He's in head first."
   
As ridiculous as it is, the story suggests that there is a time to wait and there is a time to act. Wisdom is knowing which to do.

Some of us err on the side of jumping in and doing without thinking it through first. I have done that more than once. I've acted impulsively and regretted my haste later.

However, I sometimes catch myself erring on the other side. I too often over-think a project or problem and put off doing anything about it almost indefinitely. Which may not be a problem if I postpone a little project around the house or reading a particular book on my shelf. The project and the book will still be there tomorrow. Some things can wait with no dire consequences and I don't want to be enslaved by my to-do list.

But what if we're talking about something important...like fixing a relationship or making needed life changes? I call that life work. Though usually not urgent, it is some of the most important work a person can do. And the cost of putting off vital life work is often higher than one might realize. Broken relationships that could have been satisfying bring heartache. Attitudinal or behavioral changes never addressed will impede your personal growth and happiness for years. And what about those beautiful life dreams never pursued? Life work.

I appreciate these words from writer Og Mandino: “To be always intending to make a new and better life but never to find time to set about it is as…to put off eating and drinking and sleeping from one day to the next until you’re dead.” It never seems very urgent any particular day, but to leave crucial life work behind can be one of the most destructive decisions a person can make.

Here is an important question. A year from now how will you feel about not beginning that life work you may be putting off today? Just beginning it may be all that is needed for now.

Since I began this piece with a silly story, let me end with another one. A golfer had an absolutely horrible day at the links. His ball lay on an anthill and he swung viciously with a five-iron. Again and again he missed the ball and chopped away at the hill, killing ants and sending sand flying through the air. One frightened ant turned to another and said in panic, “We’d better get on the ball if we want to stay alive!”

And that's the point -- if you have been putting off important life work, then this is your nudge to get on the ball.

I guarantee this...a year from now you'll be glad you did.

-- Steve Goodier


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