Want a wonderful life? Then start NOW.

[First part of a two-part series]

Whether we project managing our work projects, our careers, our finances or our personal relationships, the concept of focusing on what can be done “NOW” to improve our situation is critical.  This is the second part of a two-part series.  Hope you enjoy it.

“What do I want to be when I grow up” isn’t the best question to finding our passion and purpose.

That question puts an uncomfortable focus on the fact that “we don’t know what we want to be”.  The more we focus on the idea that “we don’t know what we want” – the farther away it feels.  The farther away it seems, the more we float aimlessly.  Before long, 10, 20, 30 years have gone by and we’re still asking ourselves “What do I want to be when I grow up”?

Keep it simple, silly.

We all want the same thing.  We want a wonderful life.  Some days we may not know exactly how to get there, but we do know that we want wonderful things.

I may not know exactly what I want to be, do or have to create that wonderful life.  So – maybe the better question is “What can I do NOW – to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life.”

Power is in our NOW.

That’s all sounds “nice”.  But let’s get practical.  How do I actually do this?

We’re typically concerned over just a few things:

  1. Career/money
  2. Healthy/body
  3. Relationships

Those things not only mean different things to different people, but they also mean different things to the same person at different phases of our lives.

So let’s give some examples of the better use of NOW in some of those for areas.

Career example at age 20:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I’m ½ through my college curriculum and I still don’t know what to major in.  My parents are pressuring me to decide, my college advisors are required to track my progress toward a decision, and my friends have all decide.  I’m frustrated and feel lost.  I’ll just go out with my friends, go shopping, go drinking and I’ll think about it later.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I’m ½ through my college curriculum and I still don’t know what to major in.  While I may not know what I want to do in my profession, I am enjoying the college environment, the friends I am making, the learning.  I do realize that completing college will provide me with the foundation to go in any direction that I want.   While I may not know what I want to be, I do know what I admire in others and what roles attract me.  I can align and learn from specific mentors that I admire and am attracted to.  I know what classes I really enjoy and even the classes I don’t enjoy give me clarity on what I am attracted to.  Any degree will give me that additional foundational base.   And I can experiment with various intern or part-time positions to better explore what I want to be, do or have.

Career example at age 25:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I have my first job.  I don’t know if it’s something I really want to do all my life.  I don’t know if this is “my passion” or “my purpose”.  I don’t really see a future at this position, but it’s a job.  I have to make money to pay the bills and rent.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I have my first job.  While I may not know if this will be “long-term”, I appreciate this opportunity, the consistent pay, and learning from my co-workers.  This is a great first job.  And I know it won’t be my last.  We’re meant to experiment, explore and move about.  Therefore, I will keep my eyes open. I will align and network with specific mentors.  I will continue to position myself to do more of the tasks I enjoy.  And even the tasks I don’t enjoy give me clarity on what I am attracted to.  I can experiment with various side-projects and job-rotating positions to better explore what I want to be, do or have.  I can continue to network with the people I really admire.

Career example at age 35:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I’ve been trying to climb the corporate ladder for 10 year.  I still don’t know what I really want to be.  I’ve been doing this for HIM and that for HER – hoping to get a promotion.  And nothing comes of it.  I have to actually change companies to get a lousy promotion or raise.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I have been enjoying this company for 10 years.  I’ve used my inner knowing and intuition to guide me on which projects to put my passion and effort in.  It’s really been worthwhile and I’ve been getting promotions and acknowledgements in the areas I’ve enjoyed.   Now, I feel I am currently at a plateau.  I’ve had this feeling for a few months now that this place as taken me as far as I can.  I feel I need to either leave this company or focus on the next executive step.  In either case, going back to school for my MBA or equivalent is the next step. It will be a challenge to juggle both work and school.  But the coursework will be in line with what I love to do, so it will be challenging and fun.

Career example at age 45:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I’ve been working the corporate environment for 20 year.  I still don’t know what I really want to be.  The economy is in terrible shape.  Now the company is downsizing and I’m laid off.  What do I do now?

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • The company is downsizing and I elected to take the severance package. It provides some funds for retraining as well as several weeks of pay.  Ever since getting my MBA, I continued my education in business and my entrepreneurial training.  I’ve been able to save a substantial amount through my various increases and promotions.  And I’ve been experiment with my business ideas as a hobby for awhile now.  Last November I actually sat down with my financial advisor and put together a business plan for something on my own.  I was just trying to decide when to do it.  This event could not have come at a better time.  It’s actually providing me with additional funds as well as inspiration to actually do this.  This is actually wonderful.

Financial example at age 20:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I’m living at home and I hate it.  My parents are always on my back about my choices.   I’m a grown up.  They can’t treat me like a kid all the time.  I wish I could move out but I don’t have any money.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I’m living at home and it’s challenging.  I like the idea of being on my own, living my own life, doing what I want to do, when I want to do it.  My parents are helping me out by providing me room and board (at no charge) while I complete my schooling, which is in alignment with my goals.  So, my parents mean well, but I’m still looking forward to being on my own.  So, what can I do right now to assure I continue to have a wonderful life moving forward?  Well, I can get a part-time job.  The fact that my parents aren’t charging me rent will allow me to continue to save my money at a faster rate.   In the meantime, I will show my appreciation to my folks by assisting with the household chores and expenses.   By tangibly showing my appreciation, responsibility and respect in this manner, my folks will be happier and less anxious about my future. Everyone will be happier in this difficult situation.

Financial example at age 25:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I have my first job.  I have my own place – finally!  The rent is really high and it’s taking most of my income.  I won’t be saving anything, but I’m still young.  I’ll get promotions and make more money eventually.
  • I have my first credit card.  This is freedom and I can do anything I want.  I’ll charge the car, and my furniture.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I have my first job.  I have my own place – finally!  And it’s awesome.  The rent is a little higher than I had anticipated. Even though I have a good amount saved, I think I will look for a pleasant roommate to share expenses and experiences.  I don’t have to rush into finding a roommate right away.  I have enough money for now.  So, I’ll just keep an eye out for a compatible roommate.   I want to make sure that person is responsible and able to afford the rent and expenses.
  • I do need a car to get around.  But I don’t want to start my new life in debt, so I’ll purchase a car that I can afford.  I have my savings for this purpose.  I don’t need lots of furniture right away.  I rather buy things as I need them and when I really connect with the item.  This allows me to afford the things that really means something to me and still stay on my path.

Financial example at age 35:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • I haven’t been watchful in my funds.  Anything I’ve acquired, my ex-wife now has and I still owe child-support.  I’m currently in debt.  I need a higher paying job, but I can’t afford to ask for a raise.  That’s a sure fire way to get fired.  It seems that the harder I work harder and the deeper in debt I am.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • I have a lovely family and life is going well.  As my children continue to thrive, we need to consider saving for their college funds, as well as our retirement funds.  Going back to school (while will be temporarily challenging on both my time and savings) will help me achieve these things in the coming years.  I can also discuss this with my family and ask for their opinion and help.  The children are of an age that will understand about finances.  We will ask their help with the house chores and keeping us on a budget.  It will be good financial education for them on how to budget their own money.

Financial example at age 45:

What do I want to be when I grow up?

  • Now that I am laid-off and only have 2 weeks of savings – what am I supposed to do?  The money problems are affecting my second marriage.  We’re always fighting about money.  I have a line on a temporary lower paying job.  I really hope I get it.

What can I do NOW to assure that I continue to have a wonderful life?

  • Last November I actually sat down with my financial advisor and put together a business plan for something on my own.  In my business plan, I forecasted making a profit within three year.  My financial advisor and I rearranged certain funds and bonds to be able to sustain our household for three years to match my business plans.  I also have target goals and milestones in line with my 3-year business goals.  If I’m not lining up with those targets, I can easily re-evaluate and re-align.  I will know early on what to tweak as time goes on.  My MBA and business education is working for me now.  My family is also in line with these goals and is supporting me by being a part of my company.
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