From an early age most of us were asked the age old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Even then I can remember looking at the adults around me and wondering how someone could possibly know the one thing they want to do.
In the movie City Slickers, we find Mitch, a 39 year old who is going through a midlife crisis. Everything he thought was important wasn’t as fulfilling as he thought it would be.
He and his two best friends went out west to drive cattle on a week’s vacation in hopes of finding what they were missing. One bright morning Mitch scared the cattle with his battery operated coffee grinder. Curly, the trail boss, took Mitch to find some of the missing cattle. While they were riding Curly told him the secret to life: “It’s one thing, just one thing.”
Mitch looked at him and said, “That’s great, but what’s the one thing?”
Curly replied, “That’s what you got to figure out.”
What is your one thing? What is it that gives you a sense of purpose? That one thing that encourages you to put your feet on the floor and get out of bed every morning, that one thing that you can depend on no matter what, that one thing that keeps you standing when the whole world seems to be crashing down around you?
Don’t pick your one thing so quickly. You want to make sure that you can depend on it from now on. Unfortunately, most people pick temporary things as their one thing. The danger is when the one thing is gone your world crashes down. Or worse, the one thing remains, but it doesn’t bring the satisfaction you thought it was going to bring. Now that is where confusion and disappointment really set in.
Here are a few typical one things:
– Marriage: This is the person many people think they can rely on, thick or thin, for better or worse. The vast majority of couples will wind up in divorce. Even if your marriage is a great success, death is the one thing we all have in common.
– Children: They all eventually grow up and move out. If they don’t, we will eventually wish they would!
– Money: You will never have enough. Double your salary and your bills will typically double as well. Even if you save it all up and don’t have to work another day of your life, it seldom brings the sense of purpose we all chase.
– Great Job: Companies go under, new people come in and situations change, sometimes you get fired or laid off by no fault of your own.
– Success: This one is very subjective, and most people don’t define success for themselves- they typically gauge success by how impressed others are.
– Feeling Good: Feelings are fleeting at best, and seldom reliable.
All of those are wonderful things to enjoy, but not so great “one things.” So, what is a good one thing? When deciding, you want to focus on things that no one else can take away; things that you can choose that no one else can alter; things of faith, morals, character and values.
Here are two of mine:
– Helping People: I love the satisfaction that comes from helping someone. I have to be careful not to require anything in return or I will find myself disappointed from time to time.
– Faith: I have found that even though my understanding of God has changed over the years, He has always remained faithful. The foundation I have in my decision making because of my faith has kept me out of a lot of trouble and has also given me some great successes.
Ok, so I have two things; sue me! Truth be told, my faith has a lot to do with my desire to help people. But my point remains the same: no one can take these away from me. If I lost everything I possess, these two things remain. If everyone I knew disappeared, no one could take these away. Enen if I am thrown in prison, these can come with me.
I can forsake my two things, but they can’t be taken away. If you have forsaken yours, go take them back! They are yours for the taking! If you don’t know what yours are, make time to discover them.
Knowing what your one thing(s) are gives you your sense of purpose. Choose yours wisely so your sense of purpose can’t be stolen from you!