Reflection of the sky and clouds in a rippled lake.
You might recognize this quote from Henry David Thoreau in his book, Walden: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” (We’d expand his universe to include women.) It has stayed with us over many decades (it was first published in 1854) because it is an enduring truth for so many of us.

Think back to when you took your first job, or when you graduated from high school or college, or maybe you decided to see the world before you embarked on a life where you were, perhaps, expected to pursue a career. And after any one of those, or similar, moments in your early life, you set foot into the that traditional world of the “masses” – of somehow embracing your future, and then got caught up in the “must do’s” of making a living, perhaps raising a family, perhaps building a business, or any number of occupations that filled your life.

Now, to be sure, some amongst us – maybe they weren’t part of the masses – found a way to pursue their passion and have been able to do that through much of their lives. But far more have not.

As years have passed by, our excitement and anticipation began to wane and fade into the distance. We found precious little time to really enjoy the things we prized most in our exhilarating days of our youth. But there comes a moment, for many of us, a moment where we stop and reflect on what happened in those early days, and we wonder, we wonder if we can somehow recapture them, if there is still time to live out some of those dreams we once had.

That moment may appear subtly over time, or it might announce itself more abruptly. At some time, in our 40s or 50s – or even later – we decide it’s time to take stock of where we are today in our lives, and perhaps step off the proverbial “treadmill” – even if for a few moments – to consider if we are satisfied with where we are, or if we need to make a change. It’s only then that we perhaps realize we have been living in despair, the awakening that we’re not living our fullest life.

It should be a welcome moment. It is perhaps life’s way of causing us to take account of where we are and see if continuing on our current path continues to meet our needs. Those moments of reflection can be intensely useful, and perhaps they offer a pivot point to take charge once again of our lives – not only to reimagine our future, but to find new and exciting ways to live it.

Wherever you are in your journey, take the time to reflect and see if you can find ways to move beyond Thoreau’s “quiet desperation” and into a more meaningful life that fulfills your passions and dreams.

© Perceptive Leaders, 2022. All rights reserved.