What does a life worth living take?

07_What Does A Life Worth Living Take
 
Working as an executive and life coach faces you with several challenges. How to stay level-headed after listening to so many breakdowns on a daily basis? How about designing and asking, in a matter of seconds, such powerful questions that will open your clients up to new perspectives and possibilities? Fancy dealing with multiple timezones and tsunamis of last-minute cancellations and put-offs? Sometimes it feels as if it was the toughest job on earth, even when you know it isn’t.
 
But on the other hand, if coaching has a bright side it definitely is that you can really help others to take significant leaps forward in their lives, just by performing this timeless craft of curiously listening and firing carefully tailored questions.
 
Having worked as a coach for five years, I came to realize that there may be as many reasons as there are drops in the ocean for a person to engage in a coaching process but there is also one burning question that kindles somewhen in adulthood: How can we lead a meaningful life? Regardless of their diverse walks of life, eight out of ten clients acknowledge this dilemma as the root cause of all their grieves.
 
It turns out that some kind of pattern seems to recurringly unfold in most Westerns: when we make our bombastic entrance to the professional world, we put ourselves in a restless pursuit of material and financial wellbeing. We tell ourselves that there is nothing more to life than a bulky bank account and all the pleasures that come with it. Of course, some disguise this yearning with the call of professional advancement or creative expression, but in the end money and security is what we seek.
 
However, as life passes by, no matter how proud of our achievements we might be, those compromises we had to make to reach our position in life start to manifest in a merciless fashion. Yes, we enjoy our toys and avant-gardist experiences but the pain of the unsung song grows bigger and causes our foundations to shake. Until one day, we breakdown and have no other choice but to take an honest look at the mountain we have just climbed and ask ourselves: what now? Or worse: what is this place and what on earth am I doing here?
 
Just at that precise moment, most people realize that it is time to make a massive shift in their lives, a shift to a more honest approach to living. After all, no one wants to be the richest person in the cemetery while we all long for a fulfilled existence.
 
So again… how can we lead a meaningful life? Of course, there isn’t such a thing as a one-size-fits-all answer to this question but what my clients have taught me is that there certainly is one idea that stands above the rest: integrity.
 
When we talk about integrity, we acknowledge a profound coherence between what we believe to be the best for us and what we actually do. If you think you should be working pro bono in a charity in sub-Saharan Africa but you spend your best days in a frantic exchange of bonds and shares in the stock market, integrity is what you lack. On the other hand, if you believe you should write a book and put aside a few hours every week for that purpose, integrity is what you have. Don’t get me wrong, integrity isn’t restricted only to the most romantic ventures. It can refer to empire-building endeavors as well, as long as that is what you really want.
 
But like most worthwhile things in life, integrity also takes a toll on us and it is that whatever choice we make, there are always other great options to discard. As the aphorism goes: you can do anything, but you can’t do everything. You can’t have a large family with kids and expect to enjoy the freedom to tour the world every year. You can’t switch careers in your 30’s without suffering some kind of financial setback. You can’t reach the top of the corporate ladder without compromising much of your family time. You can either land an unmatched international career or you can hang out every Friday night with your childhood friends in the corner pub. You can’t do both. There is always a price to pay so the actual question would be: are you willing to pay for it?
 
This takes us back to the heading of this article: what does a life worth living take? In my opinion, only one thing: courage. Only by facing our challenges with a courageous stance, we will take the necessary steps to meet our most genuine and personal expectations. It is not the avoidance of our fears that will make us thrive but rather having the nerve to face them and defeat them.
 
So when it comes to your life, always remember to play the long game. Don’t fool yourself with immediate pleasures and achievements but, instead, ask yourself this question: what are those things I will unforgivably regret not having done twenty years from now? And when you’ve grasped the answer, just be brave and move forward. Only then you will live a life worth living.
 
Why not tap into the spare time this pandemic provides us with (aren’t you skipping your daily commute to work?) to slow down and reflect? Is this the kind of life you really want? And if the answer is no, remember the Chinese proverb (yes, they have way more to offer to the world than highly-lethal viruses): the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second-best time is now.
 
Should you need support in this quest? Then find a coach. She will be honored to help.
 

 

 

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