The Words of the Saver Family
Here is a picture of my wife, Michiko and I, taken in July 2010
In 1999 after my wife and I had built our first home (we literally did) and with four children under the age of ten I woke up to a dream that left me "shell shocked" for days on end.
I had dream t that I would be dead within two years. The dream felt so real. At that time I was 41 years of age and had reached a point in life where I felt like I was just working to pay the bills, juggling work and family responsibilities and by and large, just going through the motions. Externally we were doing pretty good. However the passion and enthusiasm for life that I once had, had taken a nose dive.
I desperately felt that I needed some new challenges and to connect again to my passion which is helping to build character, particularly in youth. I am talking about helping people to develop life skills and maturing on the inside as a person. Also, connected with that, I have a passion to break down the barriers of nationality, ethnicity, race and religion that divide people and help build bridges of love and understanding. To me this is all the stuff needed to bring peace to the planet.
Within that same year we sold the home that we had built and the following year, moved to Sydney, and I got involved in reconciliation, leadership and character building programs working with indigenous Australians and people of various faiths. Later I ended up traveling and working in 16 Pacific Island nations. All the while I had a deep sense that this is exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I was living my passion. I was alive. There was no concept of a five day work week.
I had this deep sense of satisfaction in knowing that on any day, I was in the right place at the right time doing exactly what I wanted to do and loving every moment of it. To be able to live your passion is priceless.
Having said all of that, there are two noteworthy things that I feel compelled to share.
Firstly, I did not have some amazing job offer with a handsome salary to get me moving. I ventured out of my comfort zone as a volunteer. Unlike a job, that is, a paid position where you are told what to do and where to go, being a volunteer has a huge advantage. You get to decide where you go and what you do plus the added advantage of fine tuning at any point.
Yes, financially our family did it tough. Fortunately though, we never failed to pay all the bills and we managed to stay out of debt. My wife has an amazing capacity to make money last. She is a true SAVER.
The second X factor was that my wife was totally supportive and on the same page. Without her I could not have made the major changes in my life that I did without losing her and the children. She is a living saint.
That dream of a premature death was the kick in the butt that I needed to spur me to deeply reflect and get my life 'back on track' of fulfilling my life purpose and living my passion. For me, thinking about death is a very positive and useful exercise. I guess for many others, death is something that is a scary and shocking thought that is best left in the back room of your mind to deal with when the time comes but NOT now.
The truth is that, thinking about your own death, which inevitably comes to all of us, has a very healthy and positive upside. I can think of two very powerful reasons to say this.
Firstly thinking about your death can cause you to genuinely appreciate your life every time you wake up to a new day. If you don't believe me, ask anyone who has had a close shave with death thinking that they surely were going to die and yet find themselves amazingly still alive.
Secondly by thinking about your future death can cause one to think about what is really really most important in your life. It is an opportunity to do a serious reality check and decide where your priorities really lie. The truth is that the most important things in life are NOT things.
To help YOU along your path to connecting with your passion and purpose of life, take some time out of your life right now to honestly answer the following questions.
1. Do you feel that you are unhappy with your life at this time?
2. Do you feel stuck or dissatisfied in your relationships?
3. Do you feel like you are living each day to pay the bills and/or you are struggling to make it?
4. Do you lack enthusiasm for life?
5. Do you find yourself getting weighed down by petty concerns?
6. Do you find yourself being tired a lot and/or being overly stressed ?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, spend five minutes to just allow your mind to really embrace how any or each of these things REALLY FEEL. Don't' try just 'sweeping it under the carpet' or being a philosopher and concluding "such is life" or some other 'grin and bear it' response.
Try to put some labels to the emotions that you feel. Write them down.
Ask yourself: "if I continue with this/these situations, where will I be in 10 years time?" Answer honestly. Remember a basic life lesson: "If you don't do anything, nothing happens."
If you were given conclusive evidence that you would be very lucky to be alive in two years time how would your life change?
What would you do over the next week or two? A year later? Would your priorities change? If so, in what way?
A photo of my family taken on April 17th 2010 at the time of Ann-Maree's 21st birthday. Pictured from left to right is Michiko, Paul, Alexander (aged 16), Ann-Maree and David (aged 14) Missing in the photo is our eldest son, William (aged 18)
I sincerely hope that doing this kind of reflection can positively impact the quality of your life in tangible ways like it has mine. Have a go at answering the questions. I would love to hear from you.
M.Div., B.Ed., Cert.V Life Coaching