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Are you waiting to live?

A fellow meta-coach and NS Trainer Zul of Malaysia posted on Facebook today, “It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living”, a quote by E. Toole.

My knee was throbbing from the four hour drive from my parents’ place, and I started to let my mind wander. Sitting beside me was my sister, who works tirelessly day and night, weekdays and weekends. I asked her one time, as I had on several counts of our long drives together, “what would you rather be doing?”. She answers without a blink, “Sleeping..”.

And as I waited for the next opportunity to accelerate my wheels’ speed, I thought about all the similar conversations I’ve had with many, many people. One client once told me that there are so many things she’d rather be doing, but it’s not accepted in the family or the society. When I probed deeper, she said she wanted to play music like she didn’t care. She wanted to express what was in her heart through musical instruments though she didn’t feel she was any good. But, there’s the business to run, the family to take care of, the money, and all the other concerns.

Another client, one who manages a big family business says that after decades of doing the exact same thing, she feels burnt out. What would she rather be doing is setting up her own restaurant. But there’s the business to run, and nobody else to do it, and all the efforts would just go to waste.

A colleague and a friend says her dream is to have a book shop where anybody can just go in, tell her what mood he/she was in and the perfect book would be recommended. But there’s that loan to pay for, the fear of not earning enough, and maybe some day…

I was invited to do a keynote speech for one of the top MLM companies in an event where their top sellers were awarded and given recognition. As I listened to their stories and successes, I was inspired with their fervor and passion. They were beaming with pride as they relayed what used to be their profession, how much they used to earn, where they were, and what a difference their lives have had once they took on the risk of being unemployed, and becoming entrepreneurs.

As I thought about my own life, several images came flashing back. Years ago, I felt like I had absolutely no direction in life, just climbing the corporate ladder because it’s what is expected of me. I don’t know who exactly expected those of me, or how I knew. It just seemed so natural to work and work, while numbing whatever questions or dissatisfactions I felt inside. I was burnt out, and I didn’t have the will to put on a happy face each time. And each working day just dragged me lower and lower.

So many things happened to make me hunger for something that would satiate a void that felt deeper than a physical or an emotional one. It felt like an emptiness of the soul. And when the idea of coaching was unveiled to me, I was only too eager to venture into that path. It was by grace and a wonderful turn of events that I found my way to where I am now. It started with one person that lead to another, one place that directed to another, seemingly a simple game of connect the dots that led me to a different road. That road allowed me to have read and studied the many things I have learned to help myself get out of the rut I was digging myself into. And bit by bit, I felt better and better about myself and about my life. It came to a point when I had this overwhelming desire to share, to enable, and to teach what I know. Now I call it my life’s purpose to impact other people’s lives with what I have learned.

This diagram gives a visual representation of that stage in life where we are burned out, people who worked so much and have low meanings with what they do end up in the second quadrant. Through coaching or sometimes just through reflection, there are ways to get out of this phase. One is to add more meaning and purpose to one’s work so much so that doing the exact same thing will elevate that person to quadrant 4 where meanings and performances are aligned. The second one is to look for a different profession that will allow quadrant 4 to happen.

If someone were to ask me if I am exactly where I want to be, I may not yet be ready to give a resounding YES. But I sure am very close, and I sure have made several steps from that moment years back when I’d really rather sleep the years away. I used to be in quadrant 2, and as I have given more meanings to the work that I do, I have more energy for my work. I have also found the profession that will allow quadrant 4 to happen to me. I wish I had more time for it, and it will come. At least, I now know that I have started living, breath by breath, day by day. As the days come to pass, the light seems clearer and brighter at the end of the tunnel.

And with those thoughts, the traffic paved way to clearer roads and more relaxed driving.

How about you, are you still waiting to live?

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