The late, great Peggy Lee used to sing a song that became a standard called “Is That All There Is?” Ms. Lee suggested in the song that if this is all there is, then “let’s just keep dancing and break out the booze and have a ball.” I am thinking there might be a better plan out there for those of us who have and will have come face to face with that daunting question.
The seeds of confusion about what was truly important were planted early for me. I saw people in my town who had more than enough and I wanted to be like that. I could even justify this unbridled pursuit of wealth by claiming that I was doing all of this to better myself, to give my family security and comfort, and so on.
The system is set up to encourage this kind of thinking, isn’t it? As a society, we sort of revere those who have ‘made it’ and are living in the big house and driving the newest and coolest cars. Business schools teach us how to make more and what they tell us creates a paragon of success that we begin to chase but never catch. The billionaire John Rockefeller was supposedly asked “How much is enough?” His reply” Just a little bit more.”
And so, armed with all of our good intentions and a little knowledge we head out into the business world and begin to make money for ourselves and others. We even choose careers, not based on what we dream about or what our gifts and talents may be, but which pursuit pays the most.
It’s a little ironic isn’t it that one of the words for work is that word: pursuit. It even implies chasing but never catching, doesn’t it?
On top of that, we are encouraged by those we are making money for to focus on making even more. Corporations report on their earnings quarterly and the numbers have to keep going up and up or we lose our jobs, no matter the high price we are paying elsewhere in our marriages, with our children or our friends. Forward and upward is all that matters.
But then, one day it happens for some of us. We’ve amassed wealth, bought all the toys we could buy, and we are sitting in our corner office thinking how great we must be to have been so successful. We longed for it and we got it. But the smoldering discontent begins, that feeling that this can’t be all I was expected to do with this one life of mine, these 70 or 80 years on this planet. Surely there is more.
When you feel that, do something about it. Don’t ignore it.
Resist the urge to just take a trip, or add something to your schedule, or just turn up the noise so that you have trouble hearing it. Listen carefully, because if you do, I’ll promise you this: your life will change and your priorities will change. You’ll get to know yourself and how you are wired. You’ll find out that you have a unique calling and a mission, one that will bring you great joy and satisfaction.
Take some time to figure it out. Many people don’t bother. They keep dancing until the music stops and it’s too late to finish well. They can’t take their money with them. They won’t be living in that big house we all admired and coveted.
And, I’ll just add this: When you decide to figure out what’s next for you, it will not be easy, but it will be worth it. You’ll have to swim against the tide of people in your circle who will think you’re crazy because you need answers that work better than the ones you’ve been using. They’ll see your new car and your name on the door and all of your prestige and they’ll wonder why in the world anyone would ever question all of that and even choose to leave it.
I can give you an answer for all of those people because I’ve been there. It’s as simple as this: There’s more for you to do in this world, something really special that will wake you up every day and call to you. For many of our Halftime Institute alumni that place turns out to be in the field they are already in, albeit with a different perspective on it all. But, only God knows the field and where you will best serve His purposes.
Is that all there is? I can tell you unequivocally, “no”. There’s so much more….
If you’d like to explore some of the stories of folks who have made this journey and have come out on the other side, visit the Stories page of our website and read about men and women who have Stayed in the Marketplace, Started Something New, or Joined Another Organization. Their stories are as diverse as you can imagine, but they have one thing in common: they did the work of figuring out what was next for them and they are living with no regrets!