I was jarred by his words.
I had stopped along the road to chat with my neighbor. Sean was building a stone wall across the front of his property. He had been at it for months; and it was quite beautiful to behold.
He wiped the sweat from his forehead with his dirty hands. “I’m building it to last for 400 years,” he said. “Maybe more.”
400 years? I find it challenging to think about a single day. And planning for the next quarter or just the year ahead? That involves (what I think of as real) heavy lifting.
But isn’t creating something that lasts what we all really crave?
There’s a reason that Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life has sold 32 million copies in more than 50 languages.
We seek purpose.
We want our efforts to have meaning and import.
We want to create a lasting impact in the world.
We want to be remembered.
We want to leave a legacy.
Yet, most of us live out our days reacting to other people’s emergencies, floating across the surface of things, dipping into social media, surfing the web, ticking off endless to-do lists, and using our email inboxes to drive us until we drop.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to the forward motion; we keep on going like hamsters on a wheel.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become addicted to the stimulation and outside input, checking and re-checking our smartphones and our tablets and our emails; responding incessantly to the phone calls and messages and notifications and alerts. Overwhelmed and inundated by the expectations and the deadlines and the demands, we endeavor to pay attention to everything. But succeed only at dwelling in a state of continuous partial attention.
We spend our days – we subsist – in the shallows.
We’ve lost the capacity to do deep work, legacy work, work that lasts.
So my challenge for you as you stand on the threshold of this New Year is to consider Sean’s wall. What work will you do that will last 400 years?
- Perhaps it’s not about building a stone wall; but rather mending the wall that grown around a relationship.
- Perhaps it’s the book that you’ve told yourself you’ll write. Someday. Or the art that you want to create; or that song that’s been waiting in your heart for decades to be sung.
- Perhaps it’s about that experience – that magic moment – you’ve been meaning to create for your child or your partner or your spouse.
- Perhaps it’s about finally taking the leap into that new career or job that you know will touch the lives of others for generations to come.
- Perhaps it’s about committing to simple acts of kindness that, like pebbles dropped into a pond, ripple out to touch shores you cannot see.
Whatever it might be, commit this year to move beyond the shallows.
- Get clear again about what you value most.
- Connect with your heart (because your heart always knows).
- Create a clear plan for yourself (understanding that your inbox is someone else’s plan).
- Reclaim and protect your focus.
- Abandon once and for all the myth of multi-tasking.
- Set aside dedicated time to do your legacy work.
- Have the courage to say “no” to what doesn’t serve what matters most.
What will you create this year that will stand the test of time?
When the time is right, when you’re ready to create intentionally the work and the life you absolutely love, let’s connect. Email me: email@example.com