A Life’s Work

Last week, I was on retreat, cycling daily in the mountains. Getting outside my normal life, offers me an opportunity to reflect on three questions.

  1. What will be my life’s work?
  2. How did I do, today?
  3. Am I aligned?

As a young person, my first realizations were not-to-dos. I’m still best at telling myself what to avoid (excess booze, sloth, late afternoon naps, overeating, anger, holding my breath, fatigue). It is easier to see where I don’t want to take myself than to consider my purpose and what I want to leave behind.

Various lightning bolts from my past…

  • Not to be unhealthy (mid-20s)
  • Not to be inactive (late-20s)
  • Not to gain satisfaction from a lifetime of accumulation of wealth (early-30s)
  • Not to spend my life dragging boxes across a screen (early-40s)

Each realization struck me quickly, and powerfully. It was obvious that my current life didn’t fit. Following that realization, I would redirect myself.

When we think about “legacy”, most of us consider financial wealth. I’ve considered my family tree.

I’m the first-born of the first-born of the first-born – everyone upstream being quite young when they had kids. So I have been fortunate to watch, and learn about, many generations. In looking up my own family tree, there have been a few members that hit-it-big over the last century. Regardless of their financial success, nothing material passed more than two generations. When I die, everything in my family tree from the last 150 years will pass. This brings context to my question, how did I do today?

Being 40+ years older than my kids, they are an obvious target for having an impact or, at least, building a relationship so I might be able to have an impact. I ask myself, “what can I do that might prove useful to my great-grand kids?”

Have you considered what continues?