The great thing about life is, in part, that you get to partake in the lives of others. I am continually amazed at the stories I hear from dear friends and new acquaintances – stories of hope, inspiration, hard work; stories of chance, catastrophe, and positive outcomes, too. More often than not, it’s people who inspire me – they help me to see the world through another’s eyes, and remind me of the endless possibilities that are out there. They remind me that we are all in it together. When I wonder why I am doing something, I remember that my actions may impact others and it makes me eager to be better, do more, and give the task-at-hand my all.
While there are times that people around us act as motivators, sometimes, we are our own best inspiration. Sometimes when we share with others, we are made to feel silly about our dreams and pursuits. It is not always easy in this life to follow your heart, your instinct, your passion, your path. Often, it is the hardest thing to do. The why’s, or disapproving facial expressions of others , not to mention others making you feel the need to explain your actions, can take the passion and joy out of things. That’s why it’s critical that you really examination your dreams – what is spurring them on? Why do you want to run a marathon or get that CEO title? What is behind it? Once you can address those questions within yourself in an honest and nonjudgmental way, then it will become a bit less important what others think and more about what you know to be the truth deep within you.
While it’s fun to go with the flow, and of course we all know that in some sense life dictates our routes, I also believe that you must have an inkling of what you seek in your life before you can fully devote yourself to it. And the fascinating thing about life is that our dreams and desires, our reasons for doing things, are always shifting. We are all works in progress. I think that most of us have learned somewhere along the way that life is a puzzle that takes on new shapes and forms as we evolve and grow. And, something we have to learn, or perhaps accept, is that most things in life that are really worthwhile are complicated. My mother used to joke, “Life is a beach,” but she knew first hand that life wasn’t always easy. She was always quick to remind me though that happiness, joy, and contentment are always a choice, and always within reach.
Why do you do anything? There are a variety of reasons:
- Deeply personal ones
- Our parents/family
- Commitment and responsibility
- To impress others
- Because we are asleep in our lives
We do things with drive and motivation, and also by rote – because it’s the easy thing to do. Because taking a chance may be difficult or painful. Comfort zones are comfortable. Why make a change when it’s easier to stay where you are at? Perhaps because challenges and change really do wake us up to possibilities that we may not ever confront if we live our lives safe and tucked away.
We do things in life because we won’t be alive forever and won’t always have the chance to be doers. That’s a fact. But we also do things in life because we can, because passion is a powerful motivator, and because each of us is about so much more than brushing our teeth, paying our bills, and eating a few meals a day. We do things in life because we must—it’s our gift, our honor, our promise. While we cannot always control what life dishes out to us, what we can control is how we react: we can either travel our paths with a light heartedness and a sense of purpose, or downcast, with a sense of dread.
How to figure out what you want to do? Start with a bucket list. Write down your most outlandish dreams. Your most out-there goals. Then ask yourself why these goals matter? What will accomplishing them mean in your life? Ask yourself what you want to do next month. Next week. Tomorrow. What can you do today that would change the route of your life, or someone else’s life: it can be as miniscule as paying for someone’s Starbucks, or as grand as changing your career. Whatever you do, remember to ask yourself why you’re doing it, and let that reason, that spirit, guide your path.