Everything has been figured out, except how to live. – Jean-Paul Sartre

How does one define “living” in today’s hectic, fast paced existence? The answer to this question will invariably differ depending on who you ask. Factors such as upbringing, socio-economic environments and possibly career aspirations make people re-align their lives and how they live, or askew their understanding of what it means to really live.

The proverbial “vicious circle” entraps most people in the daily monotony of making a living in order to live. Based on the consumer driven behaviour, the more living that one wants to do, the more making a living one must do, which inversely decreases the amount of living one does.

As people strive to climb the corporate ladder they envision bigger salaries and more freedom and choice, when in actual fact all they end up with is longer work hours, more stress, strained personal relationships, and deteriorating health. This might sound very broad, however this is just my personal and unqualified observation.

People work hard to get that ever elusive promotion. Take on extra responsibility, spend extra time at work, go out of their way to really ensure that their duties are well executed and noticed in the hope that they will climb the corporate ladder, or grow a business. How does this fit into the bigger picture in realistic and practical terms?

Can we put a price on our health and the personal relationships that we have with our loved ones? These aspects are vital and at the same time priceless. We do however endeavour to pursue the collection of materialist items, and continue building our careers and business interests at the direct detriment of all that is really dear and essential to us, whilst the time for living is wasted.

I have recently met some people who have weighed up the advantages and disadvantages of competing in the rat race and have made the very difficult and potentially life changing decision to truly live life. Some people might find this crazy and foolish, however I find it quite admirable and hope to follow their examples.

How many people follow the same cycle day in and day out: wake up, go to work, go home, sleep, wake up, go to work, go home……..? When they do eventually break the cycle the vast majority of their lives have been expended. They have almost reached their “best before dates” and have lost out on experiences, relationships and encounters. Do they require financial means to accomplish some of the afore-mentioned things and actually live? Most definitely, however the question arises at to, how much and at what cost?

Maybe we shouldn’t wait until we are struck down with terminal illness before we embrace the idea of the “Bucket List”. What is really stopping us? Why are other people, in the prime of their lives able to do the things we are putting off for retirement? What makes them different? Well maybe a burning desire to embrace what life has to offer. Maybe the fear of losing the security that a mundane lemming existence affords the blue collared corporate cog. Maybe we don’t really know what we want and have never really thought about it enough to want to make a change.

What if you aspire to contribute to mankind in a tangible way? You want to make a positive difference in society. Are you finding that the bulk of your time and efforts are contributing to this goal? Is what you are spending your time on, in fact hampering your goal?

As a parent, I have missed out on quite a few memorable moments in my children’s lives due to work commitments. I won’t be able to witness my daughters’ first primary school sports day again or her participation in a school concert due to work commitments. Those were priceless moments lost in time. Would I have been able to find another job? Yes. Was my boss’s impression of me on those specific days important, or was the impression that my daughter had of me important?

I am sure a few of you will be able to relate in some way or another. If there is one thing I hoped to have achieved from this post, it is to get you to question your intentions, motivation and current circumstances.