Make A Life and A Living

“There is no user manual for the rest of your life”, said my friend Virgilio Guardado.  Once you finish school, be that high school, college or graduate school most of us ask “Now what? Just exactly what I am supposed to do next?” Heck some of us ask that much later, when we are thinking about the next step in our lives. You make it up as you go along, pulling from the reference points and insights you encounter along the way.

We all say we make to make a life, the best life that I can. But how do you go about doing that? And what exactly does that mean? Making a life is when you invest in all the important aspects of living, that includes having an income, while embracing what feeds your soul, enriches your experience, nurtures your ability to mature and cultivate wisdom, makes you smile, laugh, and cry. It is a full-blooded, full-bodied journey that unfolds overtime.  Making a living is just that, earning an income that supports your ability to feed, shelter and cloth yourself and perhaps those you care for too.  In this go-go-go world it is easy to be swept up making a living and forget to make a life.

What I wish someone told me when I was younger, or that I had really listened when they did, about making life not just a living, are the eleven insights below.

  • Know who you are and be secure in that knowledge, especially if you are out of the mainstream. You don’t need to be dogmatic nor do you need to conform solely to fit in. We need the outliers to share a unique perspective, innovate, or offer a different approach.
  • Be courageous moving forward on your path. What happens along the way is not between you and the naysayers.  It is between you, your conscience and your spiritual reference.
  • You are making a life, not just a living.  Work-life balance is a process of making intentional decisions each day about what is best for you overall.
  • Careers are built over the course of time as you have experiences and develop skills that enrich you. Do more than you were asked.  Doing enough work to get by does not build a platform from which you continue to grow.
  • Remain teachable and find someone who will be frank with you. Take advantage of the opportunities to learn from experienced members of your industry.
  • Be scrappy; take a risk and when you do be confident not cocky.
  • Respect should be freely given to all; trust must be earned each day.
  • Be proud of what you bring to your work and world, and look for what others bring too.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.
  • Be passionate about something. It’s what drives and gives you the energy to keep going when you are stuck in a rut, need to learn something new or just feel mediocre.
  • Back-up and forgive yourself when you doubt your abilities, then try again.
Thanks Virgilio Guardado, Kasey Perry, Tashmia Prowell, Bryant Ryan, Nicole Kemp, Mom and Dad, for sharing your ideas with me.
Portions of this article originally appeared in BOOM Jackson, Summer 2012.
Deirdre Danahar©2012, All rights reserved
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