“As you look back at your life thus far, what do you see?” This was a question I posed to myself not too long ago. Immediately I jumped to all the things that I failed at in life, perceived or real. Even looking at the things one may consider major accomplishments, I just found fault in them. These feelings were brought on because external motivation was my driving force. A need to keep up appearances to those around me. I was not doing them because they made me happy, but to please others.
Even before social media, I would find myself wanting to make sure I didn’t look like a failure to others. I still deal with it now, but rather than things getting easier with age or an idea of “less to prove.” I feel that now that I am in my 40’s I have even more to prove. Show that I am fit enough, financially stable enough, smart enough, sexy enough, etc. A need to “Keep up with the Joneses.” However, when I look at the things I feel I have truly accomplished, both past and present, I did these things because of internal motivation. It wasn’t about any other motive except that I genuinely loved what I was doing.
As men we are taught early on that we are the heads of household, the breadwinners, the bring home the bacon guys, the patriarch that controls all. It can be very emasculating if you feel you are not representing that archetype. Therefore, we are caught between being our authentic selves and being something we are not. What if we could just always freely say “This is me. Take it or leave it.” I’m not sure any of us will truly reach that full sense of freedom, but we can get pretty darn close.
Life is about balance. Try doing more things from internal motivation, make that your main focus and let the amazing outcome of that decision fuel the “perks” that satisfy external motivation or ego. I don’t believe you should ignore all parts of external motivation. I think a healthy dose of that is a good thing. It can help keep us driven and to better our lives. However, if we let it be our main driving force, we are destined to end up miserable.
Your life at 40 (or whatever age you are at) may not match those around you, but the amazing thing about that is that it’s YOUR LIFE. You get to decide how it’s lived and how it plays out. Therefore, make it the best possible life you can and do it with a smile on your face. In the end when you do your best to live your true authentic life and do the things that make you happy. You will always OUT DO the Joneses without even trying.
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