In an e-mail discussion with Rachel, a new Twitter friend, I mentioned that I felt a sense of urgency to advance my life’s work, that this was the season of my life to be as productive as possible. Rachel, who is twenty-six and lives in Costa Mesa, California, asked why I felt a sense of urgency. I replied that I don’t want to waste even a minute doing something other than my life’s work. What I’m working on now is my gift to the world and I feel a responsibility to finish it sooner rather than later, and that I considered urgency a good thing. She responded:
I just finished The Art of Happiness and am now thinking about urgency because the Dalai Lama touched on it. I know what you mean about it being a good thing now. How do you keep it in the front of your mind? I intellectually know I need to accomplish my life’s work sooner rather than later but I spent last night watching hours of TV because I couldn’t get any momentum up to do things–even meditate and just clear my mind! I’m really stumped here but I know it’s because I can’t find a way to think about it objectively.
That’s a big question that can be answered from any number of angles. First, what is the nature of a calling? I addressed that question in an earlier post. Next, let’s assume that you have clarity about your life’s work. As I wrote in another post, the details will then take care of themselves.
So how do you develop a sense of urgency? Well, depending on the circumstances of your life, maybe you shouldn’t. In my case, I am single, my daughter is grown, and no one has any claims on my time. The time is ripe for me to plunge both hands into my life’s work up to the elbows.
I was not ready to give myself to my life’s work until now. Not only did I not have the time, I still had a whole lot of learning to do. There is still much for me to learn, of course, it’s just that I at least know enough to finally forge ahead. If you do not feel you are ready yet, study, reflect, explore. As your awareness grows, the vision of who you were meant to be will come into sharper focus.
Yes, the siren call of your destiny may be so alluring that it is tempting to completely give yourself to it. But if you are young, with a family, you will have other priorities jockeying for your attention. Do not let your life’s work consume you so much that you neglect your family, your friends, and the necessities of daily living. Ultimately, the more balanced your life, the more you can offer the world.
That said, you always have time for whatever you put first. As your destiny takes root in your mind, body, and soul, you will unconsciously reconfigure your life so that your calling becomes priority one. The days become more precious, and you do not want to hit the pillow at night without having tasted the sweet satisfaction of advancing your life’s work.
So what is stopping Rachel and, well, pretty much everybody? The usual suspect— fear. Fear of taking the first bite of something that may be too big to chew. Fear of not being talented enough to fulfill your expectations. Fear of leaving the comfort of your old life behind. Fear of how your relationships will change. Fear that you won’t be able to take a day off now and then and just have fun. Fear of taking the first step of a lifelong journey that will lead you God knows where. Fear of committing to a lifetime of dedicated work.
Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.
Like everything else, following your destiny is all about pleasure and pain. You won’t get started until the pain of not pursuing your life’s work is greater than the pleasure of whatever you’re doing while you’re avoiding it.
It takes courage to push yourself to places that you have never been before . . . to test your limits . . . to break through barriers. And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
If you yearn to live life to the fullest, to wear out rather then rust out, you must embrace uncertainty and boldness as the dearest of friends. Much may be asked of you. Do not worry that you are not up to the task. All that is expected is the very best that you can give.
Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.
Henry Van Dyke
On your deathbed, are you going to be grateful that you led a dull, uneventful, predictable life? Or will you wish that you’d had the courage to follow your heart, chase your dreams, and live a life without limits? Choose meaning. Choose purpose. Choose life.
He turns not back who is bound to a star.
Leonardo da Vinci
HERE ARE MY POSTS ON DESTINY:
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, is a road map for living a more peaceful, beautiful life. It’s the one book that explains how dozens of spiritual principles interact, how to weave them together into a cohesive worldview, and how to practically apply this spiritual wisdom to daily life.
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