It’s something you’ve likely told yourself often, “It’s just a crazy day…week…month. Once I get through this burst of busyness, I’ll move slower, relax a little, take it easy.” Insert whatever are your most common words of choice, but you get what I mean. This belief is a common lie we tell ourselves because we genuinely believe each season of life is our “crazy” season, but surely we’ll remember to slow down, coast a little while, and appreciate the joys we already have in that next season. But it never happens. A chaotic day turns into a jam-packed week which turns into “the busiest month I’ve ever had!” And sometimes the events and activities that fill this time are milestones, celebratory occasions, real responsibilities that can’t be easily deferred.
So then what do we do? Do we accept the reality that we’ve built a prison of chaos around ourselves, brick-by-brick, while all the while believing deeply that we were building our dream life? Or do we wake up and see reality for what it is – a hamster wheel running at full speed, but one that we can step off at any time? If you feel like you need a hard reset to clear the smoke of what society tells you to do or want in order to be “successful,” then start here…
Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish by showing up for work today?” Now take your initial answer and ask “Why do I want to ______.” Take the new answer and do it again, and again, at least five times. You’ll find you just might arrive at the real truth – your subconscious’s definition of success and living “a good life.” And that truth may shock you. Not because it’s some unattainable goal, but rather because you may have already reached it, yet each day you get back on the hamster wheel and try to beat yesterday’s record. Why?
Might you be missing out on the dream life you already have? Let me share a story with you to illustrate my point. This is an excerpt from the book Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado.
A businessman bought popcorn from an old street vendor each day after lunch. He once arrived to find the peddler closing up his stand at noon. “Is something wrong?” he asked.
A smile wrinkled the seller’s leathery face. “By no means. All is well.”
“Then why are you closing your popcorn stand?”
“So I can go to my house, sit on my porch, and sip tea with my wife.”
The man of commerce objected. “But the day is still young. You can still sell.”
“No need to,” the stand owner replied. “I’ve made enough money for today.”
“Enough? Absurd. You should keep working.”
The spry old man stopped and stared at his well-dressed visitor. “And why should I keep working?”
“To sell more popcorn.”
“And why sell more popcorn?”
“Because the more popcorn you sell, the more money you make. The more money you make, the richer you are. The richer you are, the more popcorn stands you can buy. The more popcorn stands you buy, the more peddlers sell your product, and the richer you become. And when you have enough, you can stop working, sell your popcorn stands, stay home, and sit on the porch with your wife and drink tea.”
The popcorn man smiled and said…
I hope you will take a moment to read and re-read this story until it sinks in. What simple pleasures in life that are truly among the richest of experiences are we overlooking and even denying ourselves all in this endless cycle of working more, earning more, living less, enjoying less? When I first heard this story, not all that long ago, it hit so deep. It caused me to finally pause long enough to cycle through an average workday and to realize everything I’ve wanted my business to be able to one day provide for me and my family has already been attained – as long as I’m viewing it through a clear lens.
I work on my terms, set the value of what my time is worth, choose to take on only the projects I enjoy, and know I can do well. I enjoy time in nature each day, am available to get my kids off the bus, have lunch dates with my husband (also an entrepreneur who works from home), and have provided enough for my family that we want for nothing, while tithing generously.
What am I missing? Why do I find myself still longing for more most days, if I’m being honest? Because in these moments where I feel unsettled and unworthy, I am placing my value in how the world sees me, not how God sees me, and most importantly – what he wants for me. I’m not always going to get it right. I will have many more days ahead of me where I allow the scales to fall in favor of the work more, enjoy less cycle. But I know I’ll return to the popcorn seller story, and I hope you will too, to reframe my focus and to see clearly that the dream life I’ve always hoped for is right here and now.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very personal topic. Does it hit home? Do you have advice to share? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!