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What is the Price of Life?

Why do we stay in jobs we hate instead of doing what we really want to do? In the movie "Joe Versus the Volcano" the character Joe visits his doctor and is informed he is suffering from a "brain cloud." When he comes back to work, he tells his boss, "I've been too chicken-s--- to live my life, so I sold it to you for three hundred friggin dollars a week." He then quits his job and leaves. In the next scene he is talking to a former coworker and says, "Who am I? That's the only question."

As an employee, manager or executive, Joe's questions are the ones we should be asking ourselves on a regular basis. The question "Who am I?" can be modified to "Am I doing what I believe is reflective of who I am; engages my passions and is best for me, my family and society?" If not, then what needs to be changed?

Life is simply too short to continue doing something that sucks the soul out of your body.

If we can do anything in this world, why aren't we doing what engages us? If we lack skills, education, time or energy, then we need to get moving. We need to get off the treadmill that has occupied us and onto a new path that allows us to acquire everything we need to succeed at achieving our life's goals. Society looks to those that have achieved great things in their lives. Many successful people seem to come out of nowhere, since there is rarely a discussion of the years of work it took to achieve their goals. I can assure you that successful people did not achieve relative greatness by watching life pass by. Success is achieved by expending your energy on things that matter.

I struggled for years trying to figure out if my professional activities were the best for myself and my family. Pulled in different directions with competing demands, I sometimes felt that I was on the proverbial treadmill not moving forward. But in reality, the goals were sometimes years away and even though progress was being made, the process felt like it just kept going, and going, and going, and going. After the goal was achieved, it seemed like it happened overnight. I remain occasionally haunted by thoughts that I spent too much time away from my family, at work or attending evening school to attain a degree. I worry that I did not spend enough time with my daughter or son.

But things are turning out nicely for everyone. My kids are adults and have started their own lives. My wife and I are still together after 30 years and we now have three incredible grandchildren. We started out as hourly employees in the restaurant industry with just a single associate degree between the two of us. Now, she is a retired math teacher, I am a vice president, we each earned bachelor's and master's degrees along the way, and I will attain a doctorate degree in a little over a year. How did we do this?

One step, one goal, one degree, one promotion at a time.

My current job is working in higher education, and it has unleashed a passion and a belief that my work directly impacts other people in a positive way by allowing them to achieve their goals. This passion has given me a better understanding that the harmony of life is a continual flow, and when hard work and dedication is expended in one area of life, the harmonization spreads success to every corner of life. My life is now busier than ever before, working on the things I want to accomplish with family, work and school. I know that my life-clock is ticking, but I have found the secret to success and happiness, and getting out of bed each morning excites me about the possibilities the day may hold. 

The main character in "Joe Versus the Volcano" had a brain cloud and was unable to see the richness of the world around him. It took the prognosis of his eminent death to force him to look at life in a different way. With the new view point, Joe realized that he sold his life for $300 a week, and that he was stuck on the treadmill. As he departed his dead-end job, he also discovered that it is the journey where harmony exists.

So, that leaves me with the profound question of this article: What is the price of your life? I have come to the conclusion that my life is priceless and by extension my life's journey is too. In this incredible world of opportunity, we must never sell ourselves short. It is not about the amount of money we earn, but the engagement of our passions and the use of our time in a contributory manner to the betterment of everyone we touch.

Related articles:

The Harmony of Life

Life's Harmonic Dissonance

Engineer Your Career

Change, Family, Time Management

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