Could it be said that the secret to a productive life, at any age, is one devoted to being as authentic to who you honestly believe you are inside for the longest span of your days alive? Is the key to living a productive life discovered by finding the right balance between what’s acceptable to survive from the perspective of your soul and what you find minimally acceptable to survive from the perspective of guaranteeing you have adequate (and preferably exceedingly comfortable) food-clothing-and-shelter?
Some of us do not ask this question of ourselves, after working like dogs in routineness for most of our lives, until we are well into our 60s, reevaluating what we are going to do with ourselves now that the years left are much shorter in length than the years that have passed.
The midpoint between your soul’s desires and your work responsibilities is what’s not acceptable for both. And this balance is found within your values. Honoring your values eliminates the possibility of being miserable, although it will not pay your bills unless you work hard – very hard – at figuring out how to toil at something meaningful while simultaneously earning enough to pay the rent. Is that a definition of a productive life?
Such a life is enormously difficult to achieve, but definitely achievable. Oftentimes, serendipity plays a major role into whether or not you are thrown off the roller coaster as you continue to pursue a productive life.
The idea is to figure out how to “walk your why,” Susan David says, author of Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change, and Thrive in Work and Life. “Walking your why is the art of living by your own personal set of values—the beliefs and behaviors that you hold dear and that give you meaning and satisfaction. Identifying and acting on the values that are truly your own—not those imposed on you by others; not what you think you should care about, but what you genuinely do care about—is the crucial next step of fostering emotional agility.”
Yet, how many humans spend one-third of their lives, and often a lot more, in a work environment they would rather not be in? “Just 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup,” writes Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project, an international organizational consulting firm. “Around the world, across 142 countries, the proportion of employees who feel engaged at work is just 13 percent. For most of us, in short, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in some obvious ways, it’s getting worse.”
So many of us can relate to this on so many levels. What can one do?
One simple (perhaps overly simple) sustaining quote, I’m paraphrasing, is “to give up ensures misery; to keep trying gives you a shot; so, what else is there?”
The key to succeeding behind all this, of course, is energy – a must-have – a stick-to-itiveness that is absolutely needed. The arrow points accordingly.