"My own self, at my very best. All the time." It's an inspiring motto for the American Youth Foundation. It would be great if it were inspiring us all, year round, in our daily lives and beyond. Instead, do you find that you are mostly 'going through the motions' of your life? Do you often feel like you are playing a cameo role in someone else's life? Are you doing what you are 'expected' to do?
Perhaps you are working crazily hard, building your career and vaguely registering that all the material trappings, access and glamor do not compensate for the time missed with your family or not pursuing other dreams. Or maybe you are being Mega Mom -- you can manage the complex multi-child logistics, getting it all done and 'being there' for everyone... except yourself.
How did you get here? It's all too easy. We have dreams, aspirations... then we get a job, we get busy, family, friends, whatever and voila! Life takes over and starts 'happening,' seemingly without too much proactive input. Yes, we do make small decisions all the time, but we don't seem to be in control anymore. We work very hard, limited or permitted by the current construct, and try to muddle or struggle through and be OK about it. If your life is all work, nominal play, are you feeling fulfilled at all?
It's like being in a committed relationship with the wrong person. It's like watching a 3D movie without the glasses. It doesn't 'work' and it makes your headache, if not your heart too. Whatever you believe about what is after this life, isn't it worth taking advantage of the time we have here? This is something that we DO know... the rest, perhaps not so much.
Who is the 3D you? It is not that 'you' are any different. Consider the concept of living your 'full self.' This is about wanting, expecting and achieving more for yourself, to make yourself happier which, I believe, means creating a personally-viable equilibrium amongst the activities in your life. It is about acknowledging and looking to develop and enjoy more of your FULL potential.
I am not talking about upending life or reaching for stars that are beyond one's reality. I am suggesting living life is about being an aware and active participant. It's about choices and control. These might be really small choices and incremental changes -- but the more actively you make decisions or feel in control, the more you are actually engaging in your life and able to enjoy moments for yourself. You don't have to get deep for it to be meaningful.
Ambition for life -- what's yours?
I find this terminology helpful to embody a vision that you create for yourself, incorporating the range of goals and desires that cover the full, or fuller, sense of 'you' that you would like to be and live, that would make you feel good and good about you. This is not for your family or friends, neighbors or colleagues, just you.
To develop that vision, try to compose a broad picture -- possibly encompassing business targets, intellectual pursuits, any artistic interests and familial desires. It may well also incorporate friends and other meaningful relationships and some contribution to society. What about those smaller desired accomplishments that you might have tucked away, waiting for that rainy day when you finally have some 'spare' time... what is on your bucket list?
Think about what a successful life means to YOU.
Ambition means 'achieving success.' Just as the whole day of the Third Metric conference pointed out so clearly, it is NOT just about money and power. It is SO much more. It is different for every one of us.
In fact, achieving success involves a fascinating combination of celebrating our strengths, developing or working with our weaknesses, tending to our emotions and nurturing our hearts, minds and bodies. It's about all that life encompasses -- our obligations, our aspirations, our needs, what excites us and what we are afraid of. I believe a successful life includes pursuing your ambitions across the breadth of your life activities, and achieving more of yourself and for yourself.
Truth is, it certainly takes time and energy to look outside and inside and work all this out. We have to make time and space to do it. But, isn't life worth it? Aren't YOU worth it?
I think you are. Go for it.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.