Right now, it seems the only noble or worthwhile thing to do is to become an entrepreneur, a leader, a creative professional, or at least the most valuable person in the room. The problem is that not everybody is suited to do these things, and even fewer actually want to. But when we use our jobs as means of emotional validation – something we can work on to prove our inherent worth – this is what emerges. There are so many ways to measure a good life, aside from your day job, so here are a few ways to begin gauging the depth of your character beyond the implication of your title and the sum of your paycheck….
1. Do good work. Not what you think other people think is good work, but work in which you put forth so much complete, genuine effort that you are at peace with yourself at the end of the day.
2. Be the kind of person who actively, consciously seeks out the loving, kind parts of even the most undeserving, unkind people.
3. Always be open to the idea that you could be wrong, or your perspective could be misinformed, especially if you want to demand the same from others.
4. Learn to enjoy your life while not having to forego your responsibilities. Learn to find that enjoyment in them, not in spite of them.
5. Become the kind of person you think the world needs more of. Do what you often feel compelled to advise other people to do. Make the change you think needs to happen on the planet within your personal life.
6. Learn to live within your means, and happily so. Pay all of your bills, and save what you can. Relish in the kind of independence that brings.
7. Be the kind of person that other people feel better just for having been around. Learn how to comfort without placating, and love without losing yourself.
8. Be an incredible friend, one who is able to sustain a friendship despite major life changes, moves, or time. One who reaches out, makes phone calls, sends thank you cards.
9. Decide that what you have is enough – this is the only way to stop wanting.
10. Enjoy the holidays the way you did as a kid. Create your own traditions. Treat the people you love well.
11. Value your own opinions just a little bit more than you do other people’s. Don’t live your life trying to make sure everyone loves you but you.
12. Speak out when you see injustice, but do so by offering a better solution, not another personal attack just coming from a different angle.
13. Be the kind of person that your child self would be proud of.
14. Practicing loving people unconditionally – no matter what.
15. Learn to love yourself that way first.
16. Validate the emotions of the people who are closest to you. Doing so is an art form, and the essence of real intimacy (platonic or not).
17. Make time to do things you love, even if that something will never lead to a job, and even if you will never be the best at it.
18. Whatever you want to spend the most time consumed by – the family you already have, the family you want to build, the joy you find in your morning coffee or working on your novel-to-be for an hour each night – be someone who sticks to their priorities. Define your life with something you’re proud of, not just whatever you’re afraid not to have.