“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell
According to the American Heart Association, the majority of heart attacks occur around nine o’clock on Monday mornings. In a presentation, author Gregg Levoy noted that this is when many people are going back to work they don’t like, work that doesn’t match their spirits, work that will literally break their hearts. Yet they are driven.
In a recent AgeWave/Harris Interactive survey, results uncovered a renewed focus on what’s important across multiple generations and an optimistic outlook on the possibilities for retirees’ new roles in American life. I recognize this blog is read by a global audience, yet these findings may hold true in other countries.
- A majority of respondents (58%) said that loving family and relationships are at the heart of what is held most dearly today – twice as important as being wealthy (33%) and twenty times more important than wielding power and influence (3%).
- Three-quarters of all respondents think the U.S. would benefit if retirees were more involved in contributing their valuable skills and experience to our communities.
People want more. They want to contribute more. Yet many are frustrated, disappointed, and needy. And unfortunately, they focus on what is missing or lacking in their lives, careers, or relationships. Getting what they believe they need or want rarely fulfills their sense of lack and longing. And often, they just continue their wanting to something else.
While desired by many, perhaps success isn’t the best thing to aim for. It’s a tricky target because it has so many meanings. How do you define success? Fame? Fortune? Everyone sees it differently. However, there is one thing possibly better than success — and that is significance.
Many people make the mistake of aiming for classic success. Once acquired, they may go on to lead a full and happy life. But success isn’t what allows your conscience to rest easy and it won’t satisfy your hunger for the feeling of accomplishment that significance will. The difference between the two is the application and the effect on those around you.
A successful person may achieve many things but significance is about relationships and significant people serve others. Here are five (of many) characteristics which are consistently practiced by a significant person. How embedded are these traits in you?
- Intently listens
- Heightened awareness
- Positive persuasion
To live a life of increased significance, consider these three challenges:
- Embrace the idea of delayed gratification now. Don’t live for the credit of what you’ve done. Think legacy potential.
- Be open to letting go of your comfortable lifestyle or mindset to achieve something greater. (Thus, the opening Campbell quote; one of my favorites.)
- This sacrifice is ongoing. You have to believe it and trust that you will reap rewards in due time.