I've just finished reading a wonderful and inspiring book called "A Beautiful Anarchy." Before you conjure up images of flag burning and demonstrations, know that it is not about "anarchy" in the political sense. The author is David DuChemin, professional international photographer, however this is not a book about photography. Rather, it is a book that asks us to look at how we choose to live.
It asks the question "Why do the vast majority of people shuffle through life, content to just make it safely to the end?" We watch movies and read books, living the lives we wish we had vicariously, rather than experiencing the world first hand. We watch the travel channel rather than get a passport and visit Tuscany or New Zealand. We trade our dreams for a 60" LED TV and an iPhone, rather than living a life we create out of intentional, meaningful choices that lead us to a place of true long term personal satisfaction.
Of course we all have excuses about why we choose to stay in jobs we hate, live in places we don't want to be, and endure toxic relationships that we know we should end: our jobs, our kids, the credit card bills, the mortgage, the expectations of peers and relatives. But at the end of the day that is really all they are: excuses. They are most often our way of avoiding making the tough choices. We are, after all, the result of an ongoing series of choices, made either intentionally or carelessly, that has led each of us to this moment in life.
But are you happy where you are? Not just content, or comfortable, but truly happy and fulfilled.
If not, maybe it is time to ask yourself what you dream of for your life, and start making intentional choices that move your life in in that direction. It takes a willingness to look deep inside, confront fear and doubt, and accept risk and responsibility. It also requires that we not care so much about what other people think.
People may think you are crazy, or selfish, or reckless, but that is their fear speaking. Who wants to define their life based on the fears (or expectations) of other people? Most likely, people will be secretly jealous that you are following your passions and making the choices they secretly wish they had the courage to make.
If this topic interests you, I highly recommend giving "A Beautiful Anarchy" a read.