Take a quick snapshot of where you are in life right now.
Look at your many life roles and your professional journey, complete with the highs and lows. Include where you’re using your time to achieve your goals, deploy your passions, and renew.
I’m doing the same and trying to decide how much of my life has been lived accidentally—against other’s standards and needs—and how much deliberately against my own.
My reflection so far has been sobering.
I’ve always portrayed myself as an exceptionally deliberate person. Deliberate in the people I befriend, careers I pursue, purchases I make, and generally what I say yes and no to as it impacts my most valuable asset, my time. And at 52, I can see more clearly than ever that my time isn’t endless, with life expectancy for me being about 78. That means I have 26 years left, 312 months to make a difference, leave a legacy, find and share joy, and leave this world better because I lived in it.
That’s kinda daunting. I have a five-year-old son—statistically, he will be 31 when I die. 34 for the second son and 36 for the oldest. I’m 52, and my own father is very much alive at 82.
Now I’m depressed even more.
Insert sounds here of my cheeks vigorously flapping left to right as I try to shake this off.
I’m extremely proud of what I’ve accomplished in life against significant odds (even with my newly understood white privilege). My parents are not college-educated. I have a persistent stutter that’s been socially crippling for me at times. I suffer from some tracking issues with my eyes and brain that make it laborious for me to read. I have the attention span of a gnat. I find it very difficult to follow sequential instructions. Complex, OK—simple math mentally crushes me.
I’m generally an introvert, aggressively masquerading as an extrovert as society clearly values and rewards charisma, high energy, and outgoing people. I need to move physically to think clearly, making strategy meetings with me frustrating for many. In my social awkwardness, I often say the wrong thing at the wrong time. And when I say “often,” I mean hourly. I’m rabidly insecure about my professional abilities and constantly fear being exposed as a professional fraud. For my height, I’ve been 20 lbs. underweight, yes underweight, all of my life. As a human hummingbird, I’ve been teased incessantly to slow down and calm down.
Good grief, I’m a mess according to everyone else.
I’ve spent all of my life trying to be what “they” want me to be. What they approve of. What they need from me. What they value and reward.
I’m done with that.
I don’t really care what they think of me anymore.
You done with that too?
Let’s use our precious years left to live our lives against our standards, not theirs.
Where to start? My starting point will be different than yours. Many will look at me and only wish they’d achieved my level of success. Others will think I’ve not lived up to my potential. Don’t measure your starting point against someone else’s midpoint. Or your midpoint against someone’s finishing line.
Measure what matters—to you.
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