“It is never too late to be who you might have been.” George Eliot
Welcome back to Vita Reali, the place that looks like perfection from the outside, but shares a different story when you walk through the doors and are allowed an insider’s view of the reality of imperfections that trouble its residents.
Today, meet John. John will describe himself as a happily married man with a son, a successful businessman and full social calendar. He’s walking through the side door exit in lieu of strolling through the Vita Reali courtyard. Such a shame because it’s a beautiful sunrise and the lighting in the courtyard gives it a surreal appearance that would be inspiring if captured on camera or canvas.
But John bypasses the courtyard because it’s much quicker to get to his truck to get to work, to have another successful day on the job. Without a doubt, John is a huge success in his printing business. He has responsible and efficient employees, return customers that are always content and consistently meets deadlines and sales goals. Business is good. Life is good.
Yes, his business is a success but if you were to ask his wife, their homelife is not so much. It’s not that he lacks the love and affection. He is loving and affectionate. It’s more that John is very goal oriented, conscientious at achieving his goals and efficient at work but none of that carries over when he gets home. Once he’s through the door, he’s not going out again.
The truth is he just doesn’t share his wife and son’s adventurous nature and they’ve accepted this, so he doesn’t put the same effort into life after the workday ends. The trouble is his family wants to enjoy life with him instead of telling him about what they enjoyed that day without him.
To John, the most important thing in life is to be a good provider and successful at work. This has consumed his attention for years now and the imbalance has finally taken its toll because for his family, it has begun to feel like neglect and disconnect.
His wife goes out on the town exploring with his son, while John’s at work, knowing he won’t be up for it when he gets home. It’s not that John has purposefully chosen to check out at home but after a sincere and honest talk with his wife last night, she explained what was missing and that he’s gotten away with it because they wanted to support his desire to be a good provider and run a successful business.
As John drives to work, taking the shortest route per usual, it hits him, he is all about the fastest way from A to Z and has no interest in taking the scenic route. He’s also applied this mindset to all parts of his life.
John lets that thought settle in him. For him, it’s always been about routine, and efficiency, and discipline. A little voice pops up and asks, “What’s so bad about exploring something new and different?” John gets an immediate response in his gut. The feeling is one of uneasiness. John doesn’t like the unexpected or handle the unknown very well.
John likes to be able to anticipate all the variables so he knows the projected outcome. John also grew to believe that a lack of focus leads to distraction, which leads to running behind, which leads to missing deadlines, which leads to underachieving, which leads to stress and worry. It served him to become a success in business so began to apply this approach to his life as a whole.
For this reason, John’s never allowed his imagination to run free. He’s remained strictly disciplined to achieving professional success and believes if he allows himself to get sidetracked, he’s certain that would bring imminent failure which would risk the financial safety of his family.
The thing is keeping such a tight rein on his imagination has benefited his business but kept him from growing deeper in his relationship with his family. He doesn’t take advantage of his 3-year old’s desire to see and do and touch everything in a world that offers a never-ending supply of much to learn and experience! Just giving in to his son’s attraction for exploration would breathe new excitement into John’s life and benefit his entire family who misses connecting with him by engaging more of what life has to offer. Learning and growth!
John is slowly realizing he isn’t fully engaging in life if he isn’t investing attention in his family too. He decides today he’ll start with taking a different route home to transition from work dad to engaged dad and when he gets home, he’ll continue this transition with a stroll through the Vita Reali courtyard and see what’s newly blooming. “Yes”, he thinks to himself, “it’s going to be a good night.”
John is not alone with this line of behavior. Many of us become so consumed with our professional goals we lose interest in staying connected to the world around us. We stop exploring anything that doesn’t have to do with our career. Yes, our career is a top priority and so is personal growth!
Staying engaged with a variety of topics and crafts, organizations and people help us to thrive in life. It breeds excitement and enthusiasm and meaning. And this, well, it has a long list of benefits starting with life satisfaction as it amplifies and improves our brain health, overall health, social relationships and meaning. Not a bad payout.
All it takes is attention, intention and giving it our best every day! Some days will be better than others. Just stay engaged to life.
“Growth is the only evidence of life” – John Henry Newman
Keep it Simple,