So I’m sitting on my patio contemplating the world and my world when a quote pops up in my mail, “What you tolerate become your standard.” It’s a pretty powerful statement and certainly packed with lots of wisdom. I however wanted to take it one step further and say, “What you accept becomes your future”.
Why don’t we live in the house of our dreams, why are we not working in an area that excites us? Why can’t we work from home? Why don’t we get to spend more time with our kids? Why do we limit the experiences in our lives to a few awesome memories and why do we accept what we have as our lot in life?
My favourite stories, are always about those who have triumphed in extreme circumstances. The young child that grew up in poverty but worked by day and studied by night to become a doctor. The person that lost their limbs in an accident and went on to winning a Gold Medal in the Para Olympics. A recent favourite came from a movie called “The Boy who harnessed the wind”. A true story of a 13 year old boy, who built a wind turbine to save the Malawian village from famine. While these stories are inspiring, we don’t have to have extreme things happen to us in our lives for us to move on. We just have to be unwilling to settle for average.
As a couple we are extremely grateful for what we have in our lives. We have a great marriage, we have an awesome and close relationship with each of our kids. We get to spend quality time with our grandkids, by that I mean we don’t just spend time with them, we have play dates. We have had and still have businesses that have served us very well. They have not only provided for our lifestyle but they have stretched us in our everyday lives and our thinking. They have forced us to take chances and to learn new skills.
We have deliberately designed our existence and mapped out what it is we want from life. We have a great marriage because we have worked at it. We have attended marriage seminars and read books on the topic. We understand each others personalities and love languages, we have date nights. We respect for each other and we don’t take chances at the other persons expense. We share the same value system and we are very aligned with our outlook on life.
We have a close relationship with our kids because we provided a safe haven for them whilst growing up. We were there to catch them when they fell but we allowed them to make their own mistakes. We have encouraged their dreams and supported their choice of partners. We don’t interfere with their parenting but we are there for advise when they need it. There is nothing we cannot discuss and we are grateful.
We get to spend fabulous times with our grandkids, rolling down hills, baking, going to the park, climbing and the likes. Our latest adventure involved building a wendy house, which took some real physical work. We can do this because we have deliberately kept in shape. We watch what we eat, most of the time. We take supplements, we exercise and we read and listen to podcasts to keep a positive outlook on life. We don’t get involved in the news and all the negatives that go with it.
We don’t accept that grandparents need to have grey hair and a walking stick. We want to be sharing stories with our special peeps on the beach and under the stars. We want to be there for them when they are babies, when they are teenagers and beyond. We want them to remember us for the activities we did together and for the lessons we shared. We won’t entertain the idea that this is not possible.
In terms of our business journey, we have had some very scary times, even to the point of setting up a stall at the flea market to make ends meet. We have had some very lean months with a big overdraft facilities and debt. We had to make some lifestyle adjustments and even our kids learnt work ethic during the tough times. It served them well and we were able to give them a private education. They took the lessons they learnt in these times and applied them to their own lives. We always kept our eyes firmly focussed on the prize and that was to live our lives by design or for a different terminology all we did, we did with “deliberate intention.”
So why do we settle for less? Much of what we do boils down to conditioning and doing things that we have always done. For most, people follow the same cycle, they go to school, they get a good education, then get a job and find a partner, have kids and settle down. The problem comes with the last part of the fairy tale…..and live happily ever after.
Now I would never suggest that this does not give many people a great degree of happiness but if we were honest with ourselves, in to many cases this pattern leads to mediocrity.
We go to school, we get an education, we study with no real idea of what we would like to do for the next ten to fifteen years. We qualify as a lawyer because it looked so glamorous on TV only to find ourselves handling property disputes, bonds, divorces, traffic offences and the likes. The job is tedious, the job is boring, the job is nothing like we pictured it would be but we persist because this is what we know and this is what we are paid to do. We lose our passion and getting up every morning to go to the office is hard.
One of the most simplistic quotes we ever heard was “You are not a tree, you can change direction.” Don’t allow yourself to settle for a career that makes you unhappy, create a new normal. With technology today, there are so many opportunities to upskill yourself. Think long and hard on what would make you happy and start moving in that direction, even be it with baby steps. Be willing to go the extra mile, study, experiment, spread your wings.
Then we get married, believing all the romancing will continue, like candlelit dinners, romantic getaways, overseas travel. We don’t factor in the kids and sleepless nights, we don’t think of the added expenses like a bond, two cars, food, schooling, insurance policies, medical aid and the likes. Life becomes tedious, life becomes boring, love fades, fights start, mutual respect goes out the window.
While this is a very common scenario, it does not need to be that way! Work on your marriage, carve out pockets of time for romancing, work on a budget together, find common areas of interest. Dream together, set goals together, share the work load. Don’t settle for the lie that you are happy when you know you are dying inside. Marriage is a partnership, marriage is communication, marriage is being there for each other through the good times and the bad times. Go for counselling. Don’t lead a miserable life focussed on broken dreams, lies and deception.
If your marriage is broken, fix it, be deliberate about your intentions. If you can’t fix it, leave it. Too many people spend more than half their lives with the wrong partner building up resentment, waiting for the kids to get older, hoping a new job will fix things. Nothing changes unless you change, unless you are intentional in your actions. A broken marriage is never a good thing but a lifetime of misery serves neither person. Don’t wait until the kids are out the house and you are experiencing the empty nest syndrome before you face your fears. Divorce is nobody’s friend but bringing your kids up in a toxic environment also does not do them any favours.
“Growth is painful, change is painful but nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you don’t belong.”
Don’t be apathetic, think about taking responsibility for your life, for your happiness, for your future. Think about what you can do to change your future, what steps you can take today to guarantee you a different outcome in the future. Don’t go with the flow, don’t compromise, don’t be lethargic, take control, be deliberate and design your life.
You never got to choose your starting part but you are in full control of how your story will end.