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The Life Checklist

The Life Checklist

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I want to talk about the "life checklist" that so many people chase and why it's so important to chart your own course and live intentionally if you want to find true joy and peace in your career and in your life.

What's this "life checklist," you ask? You know it well, I'm sure. It goes something like this: go to college, go to grad school, get the best paying job you can, get married, buy a house, get a dog, have 2 kids... or something very similar. So many people chase this path or some version of it, thinking that happiness is waiting for them at the end. They can finally be happy, having achieved all of these things. The problem is, happiness is not waiting at the end of this checklist.

Before I went to law school, I spent one year after college working at a big, big law firm in New York City. It was in Times Square on the 42nd floor of a big fancy building. This was one of the best law firms in the world and they therefore attracted graduates of law schools like Harvard, Columbia, etc. They paid even the youngest attorneys very, very well. One thing I noticed about these attorneys, especially the young ones, is that they seemed to "have it all" but they were miserable. I was only 22 years old at the time, but this observation made a huge impression on me. I thought to myself, these people are only like 30 years old, with huge salaries, a husband or wife with just as good of a job, a recently purchased beautiful new condo in the heart of NYC, a fancy car (even though they don't really need one in the city), a beautiful young child with another baby on the way... basically on their road to multi-millionaire status and a picturesque life. What gives? Having gotten to know some of these attorneys quite well, I think many of them felt led astray. Something to the effect of, "I have been told that if I chase these things and achieve them, I can be happy! I have all of these things now, but I'm not happy. In fact, I'm quite unhappy. And quite unfulfilled. I'm only 30-something years old - where do I go from here?" They felt very stuck. They already had a fancy car, a million dollar condo in NYC, etc... in other words, in order to afford the life they unintentionally created, they had no other choice but to stay put in their high paying attorney job even though they were incredibly unhappy. They were handcuffed to a certain salary so they could continue to afford all of the things. It's much harder to start over and rewind your life choices when you have all the obligations of a million dollar life. Never, ever assume that someone with a "great job" and a high salary is happy. Many are not. There's a reason that drug and alcohol abuse is incredibly high in the legal profession, just as one example. 

You see, we are all created differently, with different talents, gifts, skills, and destinies. It is absolutely absurd to think that all of us should follow the same path in life - that the same things that make you happy are going to make me happy. Yet, for some unknown reason, most people think that if they achieve these things on the life checklist, they will finally be happy. Happiness doesn't come from checking things off a list. It comes from living life intentionally. Ah, that's one of my favorite words - intentional. In other words, rather than go through life like some sort of robot chasing the next thing on the list, you actually take the time to think about and decide what would make YOU happy and you chase those things instead. You don't just go through the motions, but rather you intentionally decide what YOUR path to happiness consists of and you try to achieve THAT.

You're going to face some questions if you live intentionally - that's just how ingrained the "life checklist" is in our society. If you choose the job that will be fulfilling over the one that pays more, your parents might have some questions for you. If you decide not to purchase a home so that you can instead invest in your dream of starting a business, you're going to face some criticism. If you decide not to get married, people will ask you why. If you decide not to have kids, there might be some rumors floating around behind your back that you can't actually get pregnant. People on the life checklist path are so, so critical of people who are not. Why? Well, it's likely because they are unhappy themselves. People who are genuinely happy with the way their lives have turned out generally don't spend time criticizing the life choices of other people. The people who will criticize you probably bought the life checklist mentality hook, line, and sinker. They found out it doesn't pave the road to happiness, but they don't know how to start over and extract themselves from the life they unintentionally created. Don't let these folks stop you from living life on purpose and deviating from the set list of things that will supposedly make you happy.

If you find yourself in the midst of the life checklist path, and this resonated with you, the first step is to really sit down and decide what would make you happy. This might feel uncomfortable (I know it was for me the first time I did it) because we've been living life by other people's standards and expectations. We have never actually given good and decent thought to what would make us truly happy. It might even take you months to figure out. Don't expect to have all the answers the first time you stop to think about what an intentional life might look like for you. But it's well worth your time and energy. If you live life intentionally, your chances of finding long-term joy and peace in your life are infinitely greater than the folks who just go through the motions.

I hope you're able to learn something valuable from my own experiences. My wish is for everyone to know the feeling of doing work that brings them joy. It truly is an unbelievable gift to not dread Mondays and hope for Friday's fast arrival. If you'd like my Weekly Journal sent straight to your inbox every week, click here to subscribe. 

P.S. Are you on Pinterest? I have a Weekly Journal board on Pinterest so you can easily navigate all of my journal entries. You can view and follow the board by clicking here. I've written so much about quitting my lawyer job to start g+h over the past couple years and I want to make it easier for you to access and read the entries that resonate most!


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