Editor's note - You can trust the integrity of our balanced, independent financial advice. We may, however, receive compensation from the issuers of some products mentioned in this article. Opinions are the author's alone, and this content has not been provided by, reviewed, approved or endorsed by any advertiser.
When should we stop striving and start living?
567599_93689185.pngI had a disturbing conversation with a friend yesterday. We were talking about careers, family and even blogging. And he pointed out, as he’s done many times in the past, that I’m perpetually restless. I’m always looking for some new challenge to occupy my time. Whether it’s blogging or 1,000 other things (e.g., training for a marathon, remodeling the house, starting a new hobby), I’m always in search of the next thing. I mentioned my desire to write and publish a novel, to which he responded (and this is the disturbing part), “You’re too freakin’ old.” I’m 41.

Now his point was not that I was literally too old to write a book. His point, although he didn’t express it this way, was as follows: “You have a good job, you’re raising two teenagers, you have a nice home, and everything seems to be going fine. Why not just enjoy what you’ve got, rather than trying to climb the next mountain. As to writing a book, you’ll spend a huge amount of time on it and the odds of it actually amounting to anything are slim.” In other words, your doing OK, and shouldn’t that be good enough.

Maybe it should, but for me it’s not. To be clear, my restlessness is not motivated by money or the desire for material possessions. Rather, it is born out of a desire for purpose and clarity in my life. For all my restlessness, though, I often feel as if I lack both. I’m perpetually wondering what I’m going to do when I grow up. Some would call me a dreamer. You’ve heard the expression, “your eyes are too big for your stomach.” For me, it’s more like my imagination is to big for my reality. I can dream big, which keeps me restless, by then the realities of life hit home.

Now, after my disturbing discussion with my friend, what did I do? Well I went home and am blogging about it of course. Isn’t that what anybody would do after have a conversation like that? Hmm, I guess I’m restless. So I ask you–When is OK good enough?

Author Bio

Total Articles: 1118
Rob founded the Dough Roller in 2007. A litigation attorney in the securities industry, he lives in Northern Virginia with his wife, their two teenagers, and the family mascot, a shih tzu named Sophie.

Article comments

Todd McKeever says:

Over on my blog the other day (mine is not on finances but mainly leadership and management wrapped around kids ministry)I had posted about raising the bar. Here is a just a bit from that post:

“I have found in the past that by reaching for what appears to be impossible, we often times actually do the impossible. In the occasion when we didn’t quite make it, we still ended up doing much better than what we would have done if we didn’t try the impossible.”

So, go and write your novel, stay restless and keep moving forward.

I am constantly looking for ways and trying to promote those myself who “swing for the fences”.

The Friend says:

Now, DR, you kinda missed the point didn’t you. I didn’t say don’t write the novel. Although technically I did say “you’re too freakin’ old” but that was followed by something like “to abandon your career, and just launch that of a novelist”. It was a minor point anyway.

Let’s put some context to it, though. Our conversation was about some of your latest projects being a bit overwhelming–your complaint, not my observation. My point was simply that you and your restlessness seek it out and for reasons I can’t understand. If you today decided to launch project novel, you would drive yourself crazy with the demands of your novel writing with everything else going on in your life and you would treat it as is it’s something you had to do. With what purpose? When you finished your novel, there is no way you would be happy with the outcome. Successful or no, you would immediately turn to find the next thing.

So you pose the question of “when is OK good enough?” It’s the wrong question, at least for you. For you, the better question might be “What am I looking for?” Because there’s just no way to get around this part–you don’t have just “OK”.

Todd McKeever says:

Clarity and context are a beautiful thing, thanks for the fuller picture – “friend”.

As someone who has a tendency to put too much on her own plate, I would say that OK is good enough when trying to do more diminishes instead of enhances one’s quality of life.

plonkee says:

If you feel overwhelmed with what you do, then you’re not actually ok. I’m quite a lazy person, so this tends to stop me overloading myself, but it does mean that I can end up with the wrong priorities.

Pinyo says:

I think this is what it’s all about, clarity about what you want to accomplish. If you can answer what is “enough,” I think you will be much happier.

In a way, I am in the same boat as you — constantly seeking for better and more. Because, I still haven’t find my “enough” yet.

LIssie says:

A couple of years ago I had just got back from a 7 week trip and one of my colleagues said – where are you off too next? To which I admitted not having thought yet – being out of both leave and cash! She said “oh you’ll find somewhere – I can’t imagine you without a trip on the horizon”. When I thought about it I realised she was right – if I don’t have a trip at least in the concept stages I am miserable. We are currently living overseas having just done 6 months on the road and I am suddenly reading all about European river cruising – can’t afford it though, yet!

DR says:

LIssie, a 7 week trip! Now that sounds like fun. We took a 12 day trip this summer, which was our longest to date. How did you manage 7 weeks off of work?

LIssie says:

Well I don’t live in the US! Nothing personal but in NZ I got 4 weeks annual leave which is common for professionals (in Australia 5 weeks is more common) – I went at Xmas so that’s another 6 days of public holidays (2 Xmas, 2 New Years, 1 local day in Jan and a national day in early Feb) and from memory I took the rest unpaid – or anticipated leave. To get 6 months off – I resigned!

DR says:

LIssie, you’re my hero!