Two Key Goals in Life

There are two key goals in life:

  1. To be “whole” or “complete”.
  2. To realize our values-system.

We could go on all day discussing about the meaning of being “whole” or “completed”, or what values-based model do we use in making such a claim.

Let’s pay attention to the words “be” and “realize”. To “be” someone or something requires a sense of identity. Where do these identities come from? What are the implicit attitudes, values, and beliefs that are attached to each identity that we identify ourselves with? How does that influence the way we feel “whole” or “completed”?

On the other hand, the word “realize” requires a shift in viewpoint, thus one must be able to see from a third person’s perspective in order to compare between two viewpoints. One can either find differences or similarities when making comparisons. Usually we find contradictory viewpoints more effective in rousing a shift.

Putting what we have said regarding “be” and “realize” together, let us take the case study of Sunny.

Sunny, a 42 year old father of two kids, has a wife that works full-time as an accounts executive. He works full-time as a systems engineer in one of the global leaders in AI-driven technology research and development. Sunny plows long hours at work, averaging about 50 hours a week excluding adhoc emergencies that require him to be on-site at a moment’s notice. Life was a constant juggle between work-life balance as there were commitments and expectations coming from all directions: wife, kids, parents, the in-laws, colleagues, workplace, friends, etc. It was tiring, but Sunny felt life was “whole”.

One day, Sunny went down with a serious bout of Covid. He suddenly lost the ability to work the long hours as he used to. He got tired easily and was unable to concentrate as well as he did before. His boss was understanding and offered him a reassignment to an administrative post, but Sunny had to take a paycut as the position’s salary ceiling was exceeded.

Sunny was now in a dilemma, should he take the reassignment, take a long leave of absence, or resign and find another job? Sunny felt “incomplete” and there was a naggy feeling of something was “lost”. It was as if someone stole a part of him away and it was now “missing”. What could he possibly do now?

Sunny decided to pause, calm down, and take stock of what he was going through. He detached himself from the situation and asked himself, “What is making me this way?” He found that part of him was always taking pride that he was the one bringing home bulk of the bread that feeds the table, but now his wife needs to bear the burden if he took the reassignment or if he resigned to find another job.

Sunny always felt that Responsibility and Tenacity were two key values that he strongly identified himself with. His current situation challenged these values as he felt that he could not meet the responsibilities both at work and at home. Furthermore, he found himself lacking the endurance to be at his best at work. Sunny decided to go a step further to see where did all these influences came about.

How did it turn out this way?

Sunny realized that it was due to his own upbringing and life experience. He had an irresponsible father that left the burden of the family to his mother, thus driving Sunny to value Responsibility. He has always admired his mother’s Tenacity in taking care of the family’s needs regardless of circumstances.

Sunny had to reconcile his values and beliefs with his current situation and circumstances. He decided to share his findings and thoughts with his wife and find out what she thought. Sunny’s wife was understanding and shared that she would support him in every way she could. Sunny was glad and they both decided that it was best that he took the reassignment first and see how it went from there.

It has been three months since Sunny took the reassignment. The paycut was significant as he lost about 20% compared what he earned before, but now he only had to put in 40 hours a week. Sunny found that he valued “Quality Time with Family” more after the reassignment and was actually glad that this event occurred in his life!

One’s identity, values, beliefs, attitudes, and viewpoints are never fixed. Life is fluid, thus one should also flow with changes and make the best of circumstances. That does not mean one is spineless or lives without morals. It all boils down to one’s awareness and intent. With a high level of awareness, one will be able have a wide-encompassing macro as well as micro view. In addition, having the best positive intent drives one to make the wise choices and subsequently act wisely.

So with a higher level of awareness now, how does your best positive intent drive you in achieving the two key goals in life:

  1. To be “whole” or “complete”.
  2. To realize our values-system.

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