Are You Sleeping Through Your Life?

Many people sleep through school, career, and marriage – waking up one day unhappy. They’ve slept through life. Here’s how to wake up. 

It’s easy to sleep through life. We’re busy, tired, and jumping from activity to activity. We’re not literally asleep. The problem is we don’t take the time to reflect on our lives, therefore we’re largely unaware of where we’re going. Like a leaf in a river, we are carried along wherever life takes us.

Are You Sleeping Through Your Life?

Do any of these situations sound familiar to you?

Sleeping through our career choices. A contractor in his 50s told me he didn’t intend to work his whole career in construction. He was well-paid when he was in his 20s and 30s. By the time he woke up and wanted to change careers he couldn’t break out because construction was too easy for him and alternative careers were too big a stretch by then.

Sleeping through our finances. We buy today thinking we’ll have the money at the end of the month. Then the credit card bill comes due, and we don’t have the money. “It’s no big deal,” we say to ourselves, sleeping through our finances until we wake up with the U.S. average household debt $7,630 on credit cards, plus $8,163 on cars.

Sleeping through our friendships. I heard a young man in my city share his story that began with hanging out with the “wrong” crowd at school. These boys were in a gang and did drugs. Guess what the young man began to do? Two years later he ended up in prison after knifing someone in a fight. Only then did he wake up to see how life had carried him along.

Sleeping through our marriages. There’s a strange negative correlation between how close we are to someone and how much appreciation we show to them. We take our spouses for granted. Pop culture tells us love is a feeling. So, we don’t put much work into our relationship. We’re asleep. Until a child leaves home, one partner has an affair, asks for a divorce, or a health issue wakes us up.


How To Wake Up

T.S. Eliot wrote, “We had the experience, but missed the meaning.” Missing the meaning is being asleep. Living life with reflective intentionality is to be awake. Here are 7 ways to wake up and stay awake.

  1. Wake up to who you are. I’ve written a lot on discovering your calling, giftedness, and values. You’ll never be awake if you don’t know who you are and how you’re wired.
  2. Wake up your mind. The more you are aware of your thoughts, values, and perspectives, the more you will be awake to interact with life around you. Thinking deeply is actually hard work!
  3. Wake up your possibilities. Those who are asleep listen to their own inner critic. “I could never…” “I’m not… enough.” “If only I were… I could…” If you think you can’t, you probably won’t. The ability to become something or do something requires us to wake up our possibilities.
  4. Wake up your dreams. People who are asleep limit their dreams to what’s easily attainable. Wake up your dreams and go beyond what’s visible to what is not yet, to what is unseen. Critics will mock. They are asleep, so ignore them.
  5. Wake up your decisions. People who are asleep allow others to make decisions for them. Those who are awake make their own decisions, even if that decision is their attitude about a decision someone else made.
  6. Wake up your energy. Being awake takes a lot of energy. That’s why so many sleep, it’s easier. Those who are awake put energy into thinking. They make decisions. They act – again and again. They increase their personal disciplines to have more energy to live life awake.
  7. Wake up your focus. Some who are asleep look awake, busily working on things, but they have no focus. The person most awake has woken up to the first six things on this list, and then awoken to focus on their one thing.

Happiness, fulfillment, success, and making a significant contribution in the world are all the results of living life with reflective intentionality. Wake up to change from being the leaf carried helplessly down the river by the current, to the salmon intentionally swimming upstream to fulfill it’s destiny.

Question: What would being awake make possible for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

    Keith is President of Creative Results Management. He helps busy leaders multiply their impact. Keith is the author of several books including The COACH Model for Christian Leaders.

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