Feb 162012
COLUMNIST written for Northfulton.com

Attaining the Golden Handcuffs

Stephanie Pletka image

I was raised in The South and have an accent to prove it. Life was pretty simple growing up. All you needed was a good bike, fishing pole and a trampoline. Brushing my hair wasn’t a high priority, but tree-climbing was.

We lived in a modest house, but no one told me. Life was full of adventure, dirt roads and all the ice cream you could eat. I had parents who loved me and told me daily. Life doesn’t get much better than that.

My husband and I moved to Atlanta, bought a house that seemed way too big for a family of 3. Now that there are 6, it often feels as though we’re bursting at the seams. I love my house. It’s full of large windows, high ceilings and lots of character. But then we made a mistake. It was more out of curiosity, really. We visited a friend’s home exponentially more fabulous than our own.

We went to a party over the holidays and this house should have been listed in the “Parade of Homes.” When we got back to our house, disappointment set in. All of the sudden, my ceilings were too low, the TV was too small, the kitchen felt too tight and I was pretty sure the living room had shrunk! There’s always something bigger, faster, hotter, younger, wealthier, funnier, richer around the corner.

We are all on an upward spiral to attain the Golden Handcuffs, the dangling carrot, the top of the corporate ladder. When is the house big enough, the car styling enough, the corporate title impressive enough?

The problem with this “Pie in the Sky” mentality: There is no finish line. There is no race course with a flag at the end that says: You made it!!! Congratulations, you are Officially SUCCESSFUL! You can rest now.

Contentment is the state of being satisfied. It is A State, not An Estate! Finding satisfaction and keeping it, is a balancing act, with someone constantly trying to knock us off the “balance beam” of life. The grass is always greener, the schools we are not accepted to – are better, the tennis outfit she’s wearing is hipper. It’s a never-ending cycle that steals the joy of the moments we’ve worked so hard to attain. Life is never quiet good enough because we don’t have a finish line to know where “good enough” is.

Contentment comes from within. If this button isn’t fixed, all the upgrades in the world can’t repair or fill the void.

What really matters is the legacy we pass along. I’ve never read an obituary that said: His house was 10,000 sq. feet! Can you believe it? or she was the top realtor in town with 1 million in quarterly sales.

Instead, you will read words that describe their character . . the impact this person had on their friends, family and community. How they prayed big . . . helped big, loved big.

What is the most valuable item here on this earth, that if it were hurt, sick, bothered or taken, you would give your life to protect it? This should be your focus. A house can burn, a car can stall, a job can be lost . . .

Invest in things that matter, your family, your spouse, your kids. Value the time spent with them at the park, on a date, in the car, working on a school project; etch in your mind the hilarious stories and endless laughing you enjoy with your friends. The late night walks and meaningful talks. For tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Go back to the simpler days; have a picnic at the park, lay on a blanket with your spouse. Bring back date night. Write your friends a “hand written” note. Take your buddy fishing. Life is short. Let go of your search, like a heat seeking missile, for the Golden Handcuffs. For in it, you will find contentment and great satisfaction.

Here’s to Living the Best Version of You.

 Posted by at 5:18 pm

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