I am a practical person. I’ve always thought that being practical was a good thing. Unless you are meant to be a cloistered monk or nun, you have to attend to the real world practicalities of life. We have responsibilities to other people and financial considerations like paying the mortgage or rent. Yes, we practical and responsible people choose to feed our children (or animals) and pay our bills before we splurge on luxury items.
Being practical also can have a downside. The callings of our soul and heart do not intitially seem practical. The things our inner sacred voice may tell us to do may seem downright ridiculous. Over the last few years that inner voice has been telling me to do a lot of things that seemed down right impractical—listen to the voice to write a book, close my physical hypnotherapy office and the latest leap of faith, quitting a part-time job at a law firm that had always been my “practical” back up job.
The problem with hanging onto that law firm job was that it was like trying to swim across a lake while holding onto the pier with one arm. I wasn’t getting much of anywhere and I was exhausted. So on August 6th, I took the leap and said goodbye to my job at Skadden, Arps where I had worked for 21 years. The universe has already rewarded me with clients and opportunities that I couldn’t have imagined. I was practical as I made this leap. I talked with a financial planner. I rewrote my intentions for my business and the book. But I realized that being practical is a tool that should help us take the steps to create our dreams. There are things that have to happen in the world and being practical helps us take action. But being practical shouldn’t stop us from living our lives and going for what we desire. (I want to be clear here. I’m talking about soul callings not necessarily material things. If what you say you desire more than anything has a high ticket price tag, check to see whether that expensive item is really a calling from your soul or your ego looking to prove something.)
One of the saddest memories in my life was when my father had a stroke in 1987 and I flew home to see him. He knew that it was serious if his out-of-town daughter was dropping everything and flying to his bedside. My mom, sister and I gathered around his bed. His left side paralyzed, his lip drooping, he looked at my mom and said, “I never got to take you to Hawaii.” I still tear up as I see my mom and dad looking at each other with so much love, knowing that a Hawaii trip wasn’t going to happen for them at least for a while. It, in fact, never did happen. My dad had that stroke in March and died in August 1987. My parents sacrificed a lot to give us girls the best education they could afford. They were practical people who put off a dream trip for the “someday” that never came. I don’t think my parents regretted the choice. They were proud of what they had achieved in their lives. But I wish I had been able to make that trip happen for them. I didn’t even know it was a dream my parents had until that moment in the hospital when it was already too late.
Life is short and we don’t know how many minutes, hours, days or years we each have on the planet. What is it you have always longed to do or be? Is it something artistic like painting or writing? Do you have an idea for an invention or a business that you just won’t let yourself pursue? Has a certain travel destination been calling your name?
We may think that being practical keeps us safe but what if we realized by staying “safe” we also live our lives small? The things you truly desire from your heart and soul are the unique contributions you can make to the world and these should not always take the back seat to the practical part of life.
What was practical in sailing to a new unknown world to start a new life? What was practical about creating a machine so man could fly? (At least at the time the Wright brothers and others were trying to create flying machines.) What was practical about setting a goal to send a man to the moon? None of these things were considered practical at the time.
I’m going to challenge you right now to look at your life and see if there is a way that being practical is actually holding you back from being amazing. What would you do this year if you were less worried about being practical and more aligned with your spirit? You don’t have to quit your job or leave your family behind but what if you just carved out some time to do something that didn’t seem practical but seemed right from the depths of your soul?
I welcome your thoughts and comments below.