A Meaningful Life

Bill Abbate

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Are you a bottom-line kind of person, or do you prefer the more circuitous route when making a decision? A thought came to me recently that made me question my life. As a bottom-line driven businessman for many years before retiring, I began to ask, “What is the bottom line of my life?” Have you ever considered such a question?

While everyone’s bottom line may differ, here is my take on the bottom line of life.

Who will you become?

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you; you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” James Allen (1864-1912)

There is little doubt our thoughts make up our life. They make us who we are and who we are becoming. Since life is finite, let’s start at the end.

At the end of life, what matters most is who did I become? To answer this, we must know to whom it will matter. For me, it is who I was closest to throughout my life - my family and friends.

What will you leave?

What will we leave behind when we’re gone? Everything material will pass on to someone, as will the impressions we made on people, their memories of us, and the things we wrote. Those things will also eventually disappear unless we have made a major impact on the world. Very few people make that kind of lasting impression.

However, those who knew and loved us will have been affected by us somehow. This effect will transfer to those they touch and will be passed on in some form so long as humanity exists. This will happen because of the “butterfly effect,” rippling through life, from one person to many, many others, then on through eternity for those who know there is life after death.

Who are you becoming?

Those who were with us on our journey through life significantly affected who we became. Yet, as mature adults, we realize our lives turned out as we decided to live them. If we paid attention to our life, we had some control over the course we took through it. To some, this may sound harsh, yet as a mature adult, I can blame no one else for who I became. I am not a victim of the way I chose to live. Rather, I created what I became by my thoughts, choices, and actions. During life, we reap what we sow. At the end, others reap what we have sown.

As I am still in the process of creating who I will become, I should make wise choices while I have time. How? By choosing what I spend my time on and what I feed my mind. By choosing who I am with, where I go, and what I do. The impact of my choices makes all of the difference in the end.

Think about how you came into being. It was because of the choice of two people to take action that led to you being here. Whether it was a conscious or unconscious choice is another matter, but it was a choice to act that created life. My life. Your life. Everyone’s life. In the end, our choices make us who we become.

What will you do?

The outcome of our lives is dictated by what we chose, where we placed our efforts, what we did and didn’t do, and the limits we put on ourselves. These determine our fate. I have a list of items from my diary that I attribute to the making of my life. The list is not comprehensive, and I hope you add many personal items to your list.

Writing these items down can allow you to become the major creative force in your life. Take control of your life, rather than allowing other things and people to control you.

The results of my life are from:

  • What I do, not just what I know.
  • Who I am and who I’m becoming.
  • What I feed with time, attention, and resources.
  • Living intentionally and creatively, rather than reactively and responsively.
  • Clarifying my values, which affect my priorities.
  • Getting unstuck from the old, familiar ways.
  • Getting rid of self-imposed limitations and self-limiting beliefs while embracing self-energizing and self-empowering beliefs.
  • The time and attention I give to what will make a difference, to what really matters.
  • The risks I take.
  • Moving to self-actualization from self-protection.
  • Embracing my fears rather than allowing them to embrace me.
  • Moving from what I’m subject to, to see the invisible/unseen as an object.
  • Encouraging the best in others.
  • Enriching my life and the lives of those around me.
  • Exploring more perspectives.
  • Seeing more possibilities.
  • Appreciation and thanksgiving.
  • The being which comes from the doing.
  • Expanding my life.
  • My active development of a growth mindset.
  • Making a conscious effort to increase the significance of my life.
  • My relationships which are life itself.
  • Making a choice to work on my life, not just in it.
  • Being a lifelong learner.
  • Accepting Christ in my heart and being with Him forever. This single act is more important than all of the others put together!
“The bottom line is, if you're not the one controlling your learning, you're not going to learn as well.” Sugata Mitra (1952-present)

Why not spend some quiet time with your journal to write and create a similar list of those things that will make you who you become in the end?

Final thoughts

The bottom line of our lives is we make what we become by our thoughts and the things we do. When you get to the end of your life, you alone are responsible for who you have become. There is no blame game. Other than blaming yourself, perhaps.

Why not be thoughtful about your life? Create the life you want while you still have time. It is never too late to become a person others will remember for all of the good you did. Do whatever it takes until your last breath. To minimize regret later in life only requires some discipline and taking responsibility for yourself.

Never forget the results created in your time on this earth came through who you were becoming on your journey through life. When you take control, the results are always far better. Don’t be one of those who refused to take control and allowed life to “just happen” to them.

“The bottom line is to be in control of your own destiny.” James Woods (1947-present)

If you take nothing else away from this essay, the bottom line is that the results you achieve will be because you decided to work on your life, not just in it. It is up to you to take control of the reins and guide your life in a better direction. That is the bottom line!

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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