What does it mean to “build a life”? Someone mentioned that phrase to me the other day in a discussion about life and career and interests. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently, and comes down to ownership and choices and alignment. I wonder if living life really is more active than I think I think it is. I wonder if it really is like writing a story (I’m sure Donald Miller would say it is), where you brainstorm and dream, come up with plot and characters and events, and then set it down on paper. The other question is, Whose story is it? Whose life is it? It’s very different to go through your day believing that this is your life, this is your thing, these are your choices, rather than going through the day living for someone else, and in constant question of, “Is this the right thing?” When you can take ownership of your values and choices and passions and hobbies and personality type, then that’s when, I believe, you start building a life.
It reminds me of the words of Youngme Moon, former senior associate dean at HBS: “Please remember. You were put on this planet to build a life. Not to build a résumé, and certainly not to build your net worth. You are here to build a life, a life full of impact and a life full of meaning.”