It’s no mystery that Napervillians, on the average, manage extremely demanding and stressful professional lives full of expansive responsibility. To quicken the pace of the “rat race”, nearly 70% of Naperville residents work outside of our community on a daily basis, whether it be catching the train to-and-from Chicago or driving to a neighboring suburb.
Add to that our devotion to our families, our community and ourselves and it doesn’t take long to view the phrase “life balance” as an oxymoron.
Being among those who rise at 5:00 AM every weekday morning to face the 2.5 hour back-and-forth commute every single day, I constantly feel the sacrifice and limitations resting on my life like a ton of bricks sitting on my shoulders, struggling to be all things to all people yet often not being anything significant to anyone.
Yet, we press on, we lead, we shape, we build, we travel, we manage, we create, we execute and we excel in our professional lives so that we can be fortunate enough to enjoy great comfort in our personal lives. After all, at the end of the day, we get to come back home to Naperville.
There are many important questions that I believe we should ask ourselves often to gauge our present “mile marker” and eventual destination in life. The first I think of often is what is the legacy I would like to leave behind when I die. I also ask myself the question if I knew I were to die next year, what would I do differently? What would I keep doing? What would I stop doing? What would I regret?
As is my daily tradition, I call my wife, a very successful home-based professional in her own right, as soon as I hit the road each day. During a recent call I asked her if she thought the reason we feel so good at the end of the day is because we are fulfilled for what we have accomplished or merely relieved that we’ve successfully navigated through another day? She responded that it’s probably a little of both.
Though I personally feel very fortunate for my career path, my successes and the gift of failure, I often stop to think about the short tenure we serve on this earth realizing that none of us will live forever. Even more, when it comes to death, the rich man or woman is no less dead than the poor man or woman.
I ask myself constantly what my legacy will be… what can I leave behind that might postively impact the lives of others when I die? I then think about how I can use this day and my humble God-given gifts in service to the world to take a few more steps toward this legacy.
First and foremost, the greatest legacy we can leave behind is helping to positively shape the lives of our children through love, confidence, security, responsibility, self-awareness, faith, conviction, imagination and self-defined dreams… or as I often joke, our job as parents is to try to mess our children up as little as possible.
Beyond that, we cannot allow ourselves to lose sight of our own hopes, dreams and convictions. As you might imagein, I’m not a believer that you must wait until retirement or the “perfect day” to put your unique legacy into action. For me, this comprises many things. My music, my photography, my filmmaking, this blog, my connection to our community, my love for people, service to others and my strong belief in the goodness and potential which resides within us all.
People often ask me where I find time for it all. My answer is time is, indeed, scarce and the days are often where I find myself with no time or energy. However, I also find that if I battle through the fatigue, seize spare moments and spend this time “doing” rather then lamenting that I don’t have enough time, I’m amazed by the results.
I ask each of you to think these same thoughts and the belief that life’s truest value is not the amount of money we accumulate but rather the legacy and examples we leave behind when the inevitable day arrives for our departure. What is your unique purpose in life and what would you do differently?
To help get you started, list below you will find my list of 10 great ways to reflect, relax and reconnect with yourself in Naperville:
1) Volunteer for one of Naperville’s many not-for-profit organizations or activities – http://www.naperville.net/employment/NFP_network_listing.asp.
2) Spend time reflecting, thinking and browsing at an award-winning Naeprville Public Library location – http://www.naperville-lib.org/
3) Take a bike ride, run or walk on the nine mile path which winds around a beautiful natural setting along the Springbrook Prairie Forest Preserve – http://www.dupageforest.com/preserves/springbrook.html.
4) Walk the full length of the Naperville Riverwalk through Dowtown and into the woods, pausing to sit for a while alongside the slowly moving DuPage River – http://www.napervilleriverwalk.com/
5) Grab a cup of coffee or other inspiring caffeine beverage and head over to Fredenhagen Park to sit and write in a journal – http://www.napervilleriverwalk.com/Fredenhagen/fredenhagen_open.htm
6) Take advantage of any of the Naperville Parks District’s 136 parks – http://www.napervilleparks.org/
7) Head over to the DuPage Children’s Museum with your kids or nieces/nephews to rediscover your own inner-child – www.dupagechildrensmuseum.org
8) Drop by the Naperville Art League’s Gallery to find inspiration in art – http://www.napervilleartleague.com/
9) Visit the Naper Settlement to think about your own future as you connect with the past, whether it be the indoor museum or outdoor museum grounds – http://www.napersettlement.org/
10) Take a class on a subject in which you have a strong interest or passion at one of Naperville’s area colleges or universities – http://www.naperville.il.us/dynamic_content.aspx?id=90
There are certainly many more to consider and please feel free to share your own by writing a comment below, but I thought this might get you started in thinking about reconnect yourself with your life.