Everywhere I go, I am struck by how much the tumult in our economy stimulates deep questions about our individual futures. What am I doing? Am I satisfied? Should I be fearful? What can I do with my time on this planet? Well OK, few of us ask the last question; but, maybe we should.

One colleague of mine who has a huge job in corporate chatted with me a few weeks ago in our local Starbucks. The crux of his reflection: “I’m really OK. My job is OK, but not great. My life is great, but too busy.”

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A third acquaintance has a solid business that is humming along, even with the downturn. Yet following a recent conversation, and just as we were preparing to leave, he slipped in that he was working on a secret project. He is devoting his “free time” to writing screenplays and is excited about what may transpire in the next 15 years as a result.

All three of these people have a lot of good in their lives, with a few holes in their happiness, like most of us. They each seem to be moving forward thoughtfully. The question for me is whether each person is clear and intentional about his or her work-life.

How do we do that? We can think about our work and lives as unfolding in segments; some segments are long and others are shorter. If you were to lay out your work-life-so-far on a timeline and begin imagining and playing with potential futures, would your current life stay exactly as is? If yes, you can take comfort—perhaps even rejoice—in knowing that you are on track. But if you uncover a new or future ambition, can you begin creating that future from your current state? In other words, are you doing all the things you could do now to make your goals and aspirations your future reality?

How do you think about your current work-life segment and the path forward?

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