Oct 26, 2010

Great Expectations

How do you rate your success?

Are you determining how successful you are by the job you have, or how much effort you put into your job?  Do you think you're successful because you are making a lot of money?  Or because you've given a lot to help others?  Because somebody loves you?  Or because you love someone else?

This is an interesting time in my life, where I'm trying to determine what I want in life and how successful I will become.  I don't know the outcome, all I know is that I have to work hard at everything I do and be patient.  But let me tell you, it's been a STRUGGLE letting God take the reigns on this.  I think all of us want the best in life.  We have great expectations for ourselves, and we should. But sometimes, the path we want to pave in life isn't how God wants to pave it.  And most importantly, the need for success shouldn't take over what's most important in life: our faith and loving one another.

Since moving to LA, one consistent thought I have is that I don't want to end up like a lot of jaded, angry Los Angelenos. (Note: this is relevant to any city.)  You'll hear them yelling and crying in their offices.  You'll see them doing things just to make a buck.  They are mean to the green people, the ones who have a zest for life.  I don't want to look back in 20 years and think, "What happened to having a loving family?  Living a fulfilling life?" and realize that I had been so caught up in making money and my career that I missed out on what life is really all about, missed out on the memories and the opportunities.

Don't get me wrong, I know you can juggle a passion and a family life; I know a lot of people who do it well.   I also know a lot of that has to do with one's character.  And I do know that right now I am young and I'm not supposed to be focused on anything except "doing me," but when the time comes, I know that the love of my life and my children will be the top priority.  It's difficult right now to grasp that, for fear of making the wrong turn or a bad decision.  I just see a lot of people these days putting their family second or third to one thing they're catapulting to first: money.

Our generation has been trained to focus on money as a way to measure our success.  We determine our status, our "rank," our success all on how much money we are or aren't making.  And sometimes, this can get the best of us.  "I'm going to take this job because it's going to pay me more."  "This job sucks, but it's going to lead me to a better job where I can make more money."  "This job is wonderful!  I love it!  It doesn't pay much, but I know once I learn more I'll be promoted and it will pay off."

It isn't what you do, but how you do it.   John Wooden


I've taken internships because they paid well but I hated them yet the name looked good on my resume; I've accepted crappy paying jobs that I loved and knew would profit me later, and I've had jobs that I enjoyed but wasn't passionate about, however they paid me extremely well (but I wasn't progressing or motivated).  Everyone has told me: do what you love; you will not find fulfillment with money.  Will it make your life comfortable?  Sure.  But when it comes down to it, not money, not your job, not even love from another person can fulfill you.  Your relationship with God and your faith is what will ultimately determine your inner peace and how happy you are.  Without faith, you can have all of those things, but feel lost, helpless and insecure.

I'm not saying that you decline every job because it's not your "dream job" or because it doesn't make you blissfully happy.  Jobs can teach us knew things, make us realize what we don't like, and even be something complacent in our lives that pays the bills while we're going through other things (school, for example).  Just don't get sucked into the "I have to figure out the rest of my life right now" trap, where y you're too worried about your future.  Life is not yours to figure out.  It's God's planning and timing, remember?  We are lead to certain opportunities because they are going to prepare us for something bigger and better.

Look at Emily Giffin, author of Something Borrowed (and various other great chick lit books). She attended law school, practiced for a few years at a firm she probably loathed, yet got paid well enough to slash all of her student loans.  She dealt with the job because she was achieving her goal of paying off the loans.  Once they were all paid, she moved to London, worked on a manuscript and now she's working as a successful author.  She literally did a 180 with her career.  Yet I'm sure while she was in law school, money wasn't motivating her, she actually enjoyed what she was doing.  Same now: the money isn't motivating her, it's the ability she has now to freely express her creativity and get paid for it (while summoning a steadfast fanbase).  Once we get off of this whole "I better choose the right career!" schtick, we will be a lot better off -- where you start doesn't determine how you're going to finish (i.e. lawyer to author, etc.).  I mean, Ben Silverman (Reveille Entertainment) was a history major in school and now he's a huge producer (The Office, Ugly Betty, The Tudors, The Biggest Loser) and past co-chairman of NBC Entertainment.  Anything can change.

On another note, there's the job that you take and loathe, but it's in the field you want to be in.  It's the whole "paying your dues" aspect of it all.  And it's true.  The grunt work will pay off if you know it's something you want to do with your life, otherwise what's the point of putting yourself through all of the torture?  You take the pay-cut because you know in the end it's going to take you places.  You have to be patient and you have to have faith.

So what's my point here?  Your job, your social status, your income... none of that is going to matter at the end of the road.  What is going to matter is that you were happy, that you loved other people, that you put all your trust in God, and that you served him and others.  Your life was not intended so that you could see how you may be served, or how you may profit, but how others my be served, and how the world can be profited.

Stop worrying about the impending success you will eventually have.   We all have great expectations for ourselves that should motivate us, but not overcome us.   I can guarantee you if you work hard and are a good person, that God provides justice.  You might go through some hard times, but it does not go unnoticed by him.  He is a gracious God, always providing justice to those who follow him.

Things might be still, you might not see any progress, but God is working.  Measure your success in love and faith.

Material possessions, winning scores, and great reputations are meaningless in the eyes of the Lord, because He knows what we really are and that is all that matters. John Wooden

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