My Life is too Small

Recently a 36 yr old MBA in exec position in an exciting industry shared this concern in her coaching profile:  “I have a vague sense that my life is too small.”

Living large does not necessarily mean a bigger salary, house, cars or retirement fund.  It has nothing to do with fancy vacations or the latest fashions.  Rather, it means having a life that is full of meaning and purpose.  And that can occur – or be absent – at any place on the continuum of the traditional parameters of “success.”  I’ve seen millionaires who are living life “small” and those with scarce financial resources who are living “large.” 

Motivation words Why not Have a Big Life. Life, happiness, Success, Self development, change concept. Inspirational quote. Home decor wall art. Scandinavian style

Let me ask you this: What is your life saying to the world?  Are you living your life too small? Is it so full of meaningless tasks that there’s no room left for the things that make your heart sing? Are you pushing so hard in doing more that you’ve lost the sense of being more?  Does more activity really equal greater accomplishment, or does it at some point tip the scale and begin to diminish the meaning of your life? Are you creating the legacy you want to leave for your loved ones?

Reflect back on last month – yes, just this last month.  What did you do to keep your life from being too small?

Can you identify:

  1. 4-5 ideas you had for a better job or starting your own business?
  2. 3 things that you did just to help someone out with no expectation of payback?
  3. The books you read or listened to that enlightened your spirit, confidence, knowledge and wisdom?
  4. The number of hours you spent in quiet contemplation?
  5. The 2 or 3 things you did that you had never done before?
  6. The concerts, art shows, seminars, workshops or other enriching experiences you had?
  7. 2 or 3 specific things you did to strengthen the relationships that mean the most to you?

If you have no responses to these seven questions, chances are strong that you are living your life too small.

Make it a regular practice to embrace living large times in your life. Wisdom, peace, contentment, and insight about investing your life in fulfilling work will grow in those times. Take a walk, give thanks for simple things, take a bath with music playing and candles burning, turn off the telephones, TV, and computer. Carve out those times for restoration and spiritual breathing. Don’t confuse activity with accomplishment.  Even Jesus got away from the crowds periodically.  Don’t let your life be too small.

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  • Great stuff Dan! We all need to “live large”!

    • Matt – ah yes. That means different things but it’s awesome to find what that means for each of us.

  • Bob

    Well dang. Not only am I living my life small, I would call it minuscule. I am what small would call small. I know, you get it. But this hit home as I have been trying to figure out how to live bigger in the last few months. This gives me some guidance. Now I just need to get off my arse and get busy.

    • Bob – ouch. It may not mean doing more or having more – but just being more. Enjoy the process of figuring that out for yourself.

  • Thank you for this encouraging reminder Dan! Living large is a daily discipline.

    • Troy – ah yes it is. A discipline and the rewards of the same.

  • Julie Carr

    Five years ago I would have answered “no” to the above questions. Today, I answered a resounding, yes, yes and a big YES! A number of years ago I made a decision to live a full and robust life and to die empty. Ironically, within my definition of full and robust there is no mention of “things”:) Life is precious and it’s worth investing in what will ultimately matter. I have a legacy to live and to leave!

    • Julie – how cool. Yes, living large may not mean doing more or having more, but simply being more. I’m thrilled you’ve figured out what that means for you.

  • Bob Carpenter

    Great post, with a great challenge, Dan! I was able to positively identify with all seven items. An important part of that comes from you, your teaching and the challenging inspiration that seems to follow you around. Thanks a lot for your work and example.

    • Bob – that’s great. You’re way ahead of the game! Those steps will open you up to opportunities that others won’t even see.

  • PaulVandermill

    Greetings Dan,

    My thought, as your teaching suggests, there can some times be a paradox between what appears to be and what is a large life and what is living life large. Much is dependent upon being authentic and true to yourself. Not being so can be destructive. A few years ago, I took a promotion which multiplied my responsibility and influence. In many ways this thrust me into the spotlight. While that influence grew, I felt as if I were becoming progressively weaker internally as a person. It wasn’t until I was picking up the pieces, and having gotten help in doing so, that I began to understand. Although the “big job” to the rest of the world, it wasn’t who I am, nor who I wanted to be. My greatest powers are impactful but in a much quieter way, guiding and strengthening others, stepping into the gap when needed. Thank you and know that your teachings helped me in a big way to clean up the mess I had made.

    Recently, my wife and I went on a hot air balloon ride here in the 1000 Islands region of NY. A hot air balloon ride was on my wife’s bucket list and I highly recommend it! Great Fun!

  • Jevonnah Ellison

    Powerful. We have to be so intentional about finding that time for restoration and spiritual breathing. I put it in my calendar to help remind myself. Thanks, Dan!

  • Wow, this is such a great list to think about. This list is really something that more people should be looking at, thinking about and acting on. Imagine a world where this was what most people concentrated on each day, and what would come from that. Very powerful!