Life on Track
I am turning 40 in a few months and I am terribly frustrated seeing my life go by, without really fulfilling my potential. I cannot imagine being 20 years down the road and these same feelings of emptiness and regret, Can you suggest a plan for getting my life on track?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
Kudos for writing and taking this all so seriously.
The first step is to get to the core of your life. You want to be rich. You want to be famous. You want to accomplish, to have an impact, to help others, to change the world.
But why do you want all this? What's driving you? When all is said and done, what do you want to end up with? For what do you want to be remembered?
Every day you have to re-ask these questions.
Dream your loftiest dreams and make a plan to achieve them. Imagine what you could accomplish if you were clearly focused on the goal.
I would like to share with you a quote; think how it applies to yourself.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?'
"Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God."
My friend, you have the power. To start this process of self-discovery, ask yourself intimate questions, then wait for answers.
• What is the purpose of existence?
• What is my goal in life?
• Why did I choose my career?
• How do I spend my spare time?
• In what ways am I wasting time?
• What is my motivation for doing what I do?
• What really makes me happy?
• What are my future plans? Why?
• What are my secret dreams and ambitions?
Once you have some answers, make a plan to implement positive change into your daily life. Start slowly, taking one small step at a time, so not to be overwhelmed. Keep your eye on the goal and gauge your progress every day.
The key to success in this is to take a spiritual accounting. Imagine if a corporation conducted business without keeping track of its accounts and made no effort to chart profits and losses. The whole endeavor would be destined to fail!
The Sages note that this is exactly the approach many people take in their personal lives ― and regularly do "Cheshbon Hanefesh," a spiritual accounting. For example, if someone is trying to refrain from speaking Loshon Hara (gossip), he should keep track of the number of times he speaks Loshon Hara during the day. The power of this exercise is so great, that if a person performs a cheshbon for 80 consecutive days, they will assuredly become a new person.
There is an excellent book, written a few hundred years ago, called "Cheshbon ha-Nefesh" by Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Satanov. Find it at feldheim.com.