Life is an interesting game that we play.

Life is a chunk of time between when we are born and when we die. Everyone that I know goes through it. Most of us do not consciously know how long this whole process will last.

However, when we look at the smaller pieces of it, we know that each moment is gone almost the instant it is begun, and we cannot relive a moment. How, then, can we pack each moment full of wondrous experiences so that when we mount our white stallions and ride out into the sunset for that last time, we can look back on life and say, “Boy, Howdy, that was one hell of a ride!”

I am a farm boy. When I ponder deep stuff like this, I find myself looking to nature for metaphors and guidance. I do not mean an in-depth scholarly study of the harmonious pulse of our seasons and the interdependent interactions between the various flora and fauna in the microcosm. That is beyond me.

I see life as if it were much simpler, like a walk across the cow pasture from one point to another. I look for ways to make the journey challenging, satisfying, and fun.

Here are a couple approaches to life. Which one works for you?

Common Thinking: Goal Setting Leads to Success

A highly prescribed common practice is to set goals—personal and business goals. These goals are specific, measurable, and tangible achievements or acquisitions attained in a predetermined period of time. We are encouraged to set big goals, requiring us to stretch the envelope of our abilities. We set these whopper goals and convince ourselves that we are going to be really happy when we get there.

My experience with this process is that it is similar to putting on a set of blinders. We see only the goal of getting to the top of the high hill on the far side of the cow pasture. Our line of sight is focused and locked on to that lofty spot, but unfortunately, because of the blinders, we do not see the beautiful wildflowers and the spectacular view of the river to the left of us, our families and friends who are playing games to the right of us, the muck-filled holes, prickly brambles and briers, angry bulls, and fresh cow pies directly in front of us.

We spend our time struggling, fighting, and sacrificing to reach our goals in record time. We are scratched, bruised, and torn, covered with pungent, digested grass from nose to toes. We look back to see a much easier path, lined with people who were there to help us. And we think, “Why didn’t someone tell me there was a better way?” or “Whose fault is this?” We feel a bit disheartened, disappointed, and maybe even angry. “This was a stupid goal. There must be more.”

We look into the distance and see a higher, bigger hill farther off in the distance, with more trees, more sunshine, more view, and a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We say to ourselves, “Boy, am I going to be happy when I get there.” We lock our sights onto that far distant hill, and off we go again, all by ourselves. We keep achieving our goals, being successful, but are we happy?

Uncommon Thinking: Meandering with Purpose

I’d rather look at this life trip as meandering through the pasture with purpose. The journey is about creating worthwhile and valuable experiences for ourselves and others. It is about creating happiness in every step on the way to the goal.

I agree that goals in the future are important. We need direction. I also know that the process along the way is what gives life zest and gitty-up-and-go.

When we consciously take the blinders off and look around us, life can become much broader, rewarding, and exhilarating. We invest time to smell the flowers, relax and savor the sunset, build healthy, loving relationships, and nurture a lost puppy.

We ask for help along the way and discover that when we choose to work together with others, far better outcomes are in store for all. We learn to build bridges over the muck holes and fences that will guide and aid others who follow in our footsteps. We develop trusting relationships with the bulls so they don’t feel as if they are threatened by our presence. We walk briskly but carefully to avoid getting stuck in the B.S. We use the B.S. to make fertilizer, rather than to complain that our lives stink. We take ownership for our choices and our outcomes. We celebrate our successes and search for the lessons in our mistakes.

We eventually arrive at our destination, feeling satisfied, proud, and elated. Yahoo!

The Life Challenge (If You Choose to Accept)

• Set goals that are congruent with the moment-to-moment experiences you want to create in your life. The daily process is just as important as the goal in the future.
• Be flexible and adaptable. Things change. Be willing to adjust your course in order to keep the process challenging and enjoyable. Things may change to the point where your initial goal is not inspiring to you. Re-set the goal with another that fills your heart with passion.
• Focus on relationships. The relationships with self and others are the reason and the means to achieving the goal. Effective relationships tie together meaningful life and successful life—they are about creating balance.
• Be accountable. Take ownership for all of your outcomes—the ones you like and the ones you do not. Consciously or unconsciously, you have made choices that have put you exactly where you are. Accept that without blame. Avoid your own B.S.
• Celebrate successes. Recognize yourself for your abilities, passions, and accomplishments—big and small. Recognize others for their contributions, guidance, and support.
• Learn from mistakes. Failure is an event, not a person. Within every failure is the seed for a greater success. Even if it seems difficult or uncomfortable, search for the lessons.
• Have fun! Life is a game, and games are meant to be fun.

Life. The moments come and the moments go. Each moment is an opportunity to choose “new” lightness, love, and laughter or to drag forward “old” hurts, heartache, and dis-ease. When you look at it that way, it seems like a simple choice.

In my life I have tainted too many of my moments with stale memories of the past, struggling for material goals, neglecting my relationships, and blaming others. I do not choose to do that anymore.

What about you?

I double-dog dare you to accept my challenge. Stand tall, be proud, and venture forth on the journey across the cow pasture of life. Keep one eye on the prize and the other consciously mindful of your relationships and surroundings. Fill each fleeting moment with proceeding, exceeding, and succeeding.

Your boots are at the door. Gitty-up!

** This article is one of 101 great articles that were published in 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. To get complete details on “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life”, visit http://www.selfgrowth.com/greatways3.html

Author's Bio: 

Dan Ohler is a speaker, coach, and author, and he is Thinkin’ Outside the Barn! Dan is a country boy based near Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. His keynotes, workshops, and comedy presentations have a unique, grassroots flair. Through his insights and humor, Dan encourages you to learn to apply the basics of human psychology—timeless, natural laws that create life-long, flourishing relationships and abounding success. To book Dan for your next event, buy his books, or subscribe to his free e-zine, visit http://www.ThinkinOutsideTheBarn.com, e-mail Dan@DanOhler.com, or call (780) 785–9479.