How To Avoid The Life-Sucking Trap Of The American Dream

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Annie Spratt / Unsplash

The American Dream.

If you grew up poor in the states, you’re probably very familiar with this dream. It’s the promise that working hard to get into a good school and get a good job will be the solution to all your problems.

But after going down this path that was laid out for you, you probably realized one huge problem.

This dream was never yours.

It was the dream of other people who were never able to get the success you got.

You followed the rules. You studied like your parents told you to. You got into the good school. You got the stable job with the nice benefits and now you’re an adult doing what all responsible adults should be doing.

But for some reason, there’s an itch inside of you for something more.

You can’t help but ask yourself, “Is this it?”

You thought you’ve gotten your life all figured out, but for some reason, you now feel more lost than ever.

You find yourself daydreaming a bit too much about what life would be like doing something else.

You begin to lose sleep desperately trying to figure out what you are missing out on with your life.

You begin to dread waking up each morning having to go into a job you know is not helping you grow.

And as every day is passing bay, you feel yourself drifting further and further away from where you want to be.

And this is when the reality hits.

You’re stuck and you don’t have the slightest idea what to do about it.

To drop everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve in order to pursue something else seems ridiculous and irresponsible.

But deep down, the truth is still there. You’ve been living the life someone else wanted you to live, not the one you truly wanted.

However, there’s an even harsher truth.

You probably haven’t done much as you should in taking action to live out your true calling because it’s much easier to live a life someone else wants you to.

The biggest paradigm shift for me was yes, while I was following someone else’s instructions on how to live my life, the real reason I never discovered my calling and lived it out was that I was too afraid to do so.

It was easier to dream of a great life rather than do the hard work it takes to achieve it.

And the scariest part is once you take ownership of the one life you have, you have no one to blame if things go wrong. At least following someone else’s path gave me the right to blame them.

Discovering your calling often lacks the detailed how-to instructions and this is why many end up confused about what it is. And because they’re confused, this often leads to inaction.

At least the American Dream gives a specific roadmap on how to get into a good school and how to get a good job, but that’s not how living out your calling works.

1. Your Calling is Not a Formula

In a world where how-to tutorials and get rich quick scheme flood our social media feeds, we want to be able to figure out instantly how to succeed in our lives. This is why most people still feel stuck no matter how many things they’ve tried.

It won’t be until you realize who you truly are and what matters to you that you will begin to feel a sense of what you are called to do with your life. And your calling is not a step-by-step formula. It’s more of a compass.

Your calling is more of an absolute direction that you should steer your life towards.

It involves courageously stepping into the unknown and believing that life is so much greater than just yourself.

And once you realize this fact, you will be heading in the right direction that brings your life a deep sense of meaning, which is what we all want at the end of the day.

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.” – Viktor Frankl

2) Your Calling Isn’t Meant to Give You a Sense of Safety and Security

You’ve probably felt this at some points in your life.

Something beckoning you towards a different life, and a part of you knows that your best life is on the other side, but your fears are holding you back.

Living out your calling requires the audacity to step into the unknown to discover what you are capable of. I think Franklin D. Roosevelt was spot on when he said: “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.”

Your calling never asks you to settle, but instead asks you to keep moving forward.

When living out your calling becomes more important to you than the fears that hold you back, that’s when you will find the courage to take the bold actions necessary.

3. Your Calling Isn’t Always About What You Are Doing, But it Has Everything to do With Who You Are Becoming.

The reality is that life is hard and some of us spend most of our lives in survival mode just to pay the bills and put food on the table, but the best way to live the one life you have is to utilize the passion and talents that you possess.

If we bury our dreams because we’re too busy for them, we will never become who we were meant to become.

All individuals have a burning desire within themselves and a unique set of skills that can help create a meaningful impact on the world, but until we take the time to intimately connect with and cultivate them, we will never find our true calling.

So take a moment to slow down today and ask yourself, “Am I moving towards the life I was created to live or is the way I’m living causing me to drift away from it?”

Meditate on this and provide yourself the space to help you uncover what makes you most alive and then take action to work with what you get out of it.

Then you’ll be on your way to living out your unique calling. TC mark

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