Over the last year, I have been orchestrating a shift in my business strategy and focus. I keep asking myself – Why? Why would I change? Why should I change? Why do I need more, and why am I so obsessed with growth? Sometimes I just do not have an answer for why. I guess that is okay. Do you ask yourself why regularly? Such a simple question can trigger a profound shift in our perspective. Why do we have to do it this way? Why am I going to work? Why do we teach our kids the way we teach them?
The more often we ask “Why,” the better are our chances of avoiding “The Hamster Wheel of Life” (THWL). Maybe you are not familiar with THWL. Here is a typical day on THWL – You get up after hitting snooze multiple times, rush to get the kids ready for school and yourself ready for work (this is not without teeth-gnashing and maybe some yelling). You work all day in a job you are not inspired about (but it pays the bills), rush to take the kids here and there, grab dinner on the go, squeeze homework in, mow the yard, take out the trash, pay the bills, and respond to text messages, all before winding down by looking at Facebook or mindless television. Then you go to bed and get up to do it all over again until Friday comes. This is how the overwhelming majority of us live our lives. Why? There are a million answers to this question, but I want you to know from this day forward – You Have A Choice!
I have written before that we always have a choice. The choices might not always seem appealing, but we still have a choice. To think otherwise is to assume the victim mentality in life, which is an even scarier place than THWL. Victims never get off THWL because they are too busy feeling sorry for themselves to recognize that they have a choice.
Serving a Cause
One strategy for escaping THWL is to seek opportunities to serve others. This could be through the church, community, youth services, or volunteering. There are thousands of options for helping others and creating additional meaning in our lives. The stress we experience while on the THWL can often result from not having a clear purpose as to why we are doing what we are doing. It is equivalent to working to a higher target year after year without having a reason beyond obtaining more. Growth for the sake of growth is at the heart of THWL. More stuff increases our obligation and increases the difficulty of exiting THWL.
We live in a world of instant gratification. We want it now – money, recognition, acceptance, success, vacation, cars, homes…the list goes on. This mentality is what keeps us on THWL. The choice is yours alone. It is a shift in your attitude and habits. It is a shift in the people you are spending your time with. It is a shift in what you are feeding your brain and your body. To live a life of contribution, connection, collaboration, friendship, love, or whatever kind of life you desire to live, you must make a choice and then make the necessary changes. Jumping off THWL can be dangerous, but I know people who have done it and lived to tell about it. I recommend slowing it down over time so that you can step off of it.
We do not have to live on THWL. There will be times that require us to have the rhythm that THWL provides, but just knowing there is light at the end of the tunnel or a shift in perspective can give us hope and inspire us to make the choices that will create our better future. There is no reason to jump. Just make a choice. Have a clear mission, vision, and operating principals for your life. These will guide you to serve in a way far beyond you. Choose to make a difference.