I was reminded of the poem “My Wage” by Jessie B. Rittenhouse this morning, during my weekly “Man to Man Time” with my three teenage boys, where we explore issues of life purpose and planning, work, goals, dreams, and faith.
We’re reading through Dan Miller’s new book Wisdom Meets Passion, which he co-wrote with his son Jared Angaza. We’re slowly making our way through. There are so many great nuggets in the book that I don’t want to quickly pass by.
Today we read a challenging quote by Mark Twain:
“Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
As we discussed this quote by Twain, we talked about the fact that everyone has dreams when they’re young, but few seem to ever fulfill them. Something happened along the way and they gave up.
Maybe it was their parents who told them their dream wasn’t realistic. Perhaps they got into a pattern of self-doubt and decided for themselves that they’d never be able to achieve it. Or maybe they took a step or two forward and encountered roadblocks, which caused them to give up.
I suggested to my boys that they begin to keep a master dream list of all the things they’d like to accomplish in their lives.
And I encouraged them do all that they could to keep a positive mental attitude throughout their lives, and create and nurture an abundance mentality for themselves.
Then, for some reason, my mind went to the famous poem by Rittenhouse, entitled “My Wage,” which I shared with them:
I bargained with Life for a penny,
And Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening
When I counted my scanty store.
For Life is a just employer,
He gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages,
Why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire,
Only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life,
Life would have willingly paid.
We talked about the unprecedented opportunities we have today to get what we want out of life.
But first we must clarify exactly what it is that we want, based on our sense of calling, skills, dreams and passions. Then we must determine the price it will cost to achieve what we want, and make a commitment to pay the price.
Some people don’t ask much from life…and they don’t contribute much either.
Some don’t dream anymore, or they think their dreams won’t matter because they can’t find the opportunity to take steps to fulfill them. But there’s plenty of time for TV or sports or other activities.
Which reminded me of another key point to share with my boys: Everything is a choice.
I believe that the sooner we determine what we want in life, commit to paying the price, and make the right choices that will keep us focused in achieving our goal or dream, the more success we’ll enjoy.
What about you?
Do you know what you want from life? Really? Do you have a clear understanding of what success means to you?
If not, take some time today, or in the next day or two, to really think this through.
Three steps to clarifying what you want out of life
Here are three things you can do to clarify what you want out of life…
- Start, or revisit, your master dream list of all the things you want to do, be, have and achieve.
- Prioritize the top 3-5 things that you absolutely really must accomplish in your life if it is to be considered a success in your mind.
- Write out a vivid description of what your life will be like when you have accomplished these top 3-5 priorities.
- I know I said there’s three steps to clarifying what you want. But for extra credit, why not start taking action?! Identify 3-5 steps you can take over the next three months to work toward accomplishing one or more of those priority items. And get started!
In closing, I’ll leave you with three thoughts…
- If you’re not following your dreams today, you’re probably following someone else’s.
- If you’re not living according to a plan that you’ve laid out for your life, you’re probably living according to a plan that someone else has created for you, whether you realize it or not.
- No matter who you are or what you’ve done…It’s never too late to be what you might have been!
Do you know what you want out of life? Have you identified what success means for you? I’d love to hear your reactions and comments.
You might also like…
Great article Rich! My wife and I have completed our dream of becoming debt free except for our house! We want to be financially free so we can volunteer more and we would one day love to live on the coast.
Jason, thanks for your comment! Congrats on your achievements in paying off debt.
My Money Design says
That is one incredible quote from Twain, and advice I can live by. My goal in life is to create as many opportunities for my kids as possible that leads them to happiness and success.
MMD, I’m with you on equipping our kids for success. Thanks for your comment!