As Labor Day approaches and the end of summer is upon us, we have another seasonal time point that can be helpful to set some goals and build momentum towards reaching our full potential. Unfortunately, just like setting some goals for the New Year, the cold hard statistics would remind us that after just a few short weeks, most of us begin to see those goals fade away and become lost and forgotten. It is not so much that we already reached success or failure, but we basically just stopped caring and moved on.
Measuring success or failure in any endeavor is important. However, as we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, a real concern is to address apathy when it creeps into our family, our personal and professional growth and our community…when we just don’t care anymore and don’t get engaged, set goals or get after achieving them.
The real concern in life is not that we fell short of our goals or faced repeated failure in our attempts to achieve. The real concern is that we just “checked out” in the major areas of life and just stopped caring.
Apathy rears its ugly head in a number of ways and in a variety of dimensions in our lives:
“I am just burned out” may be the way apathy appears from a career perspective. We get tired of the bureaucracy and red tape of an organization and we just grin and bear it until retirement or something better comes along. It can also appear in the entrepreneur world when we just grow numb to the concerns of cash flow and bankruptcy risk.
“I am just tired of being miserable and unhappy” maybe the way apathy appears in our closest relationships. “You are now on your own to learn the hard way” may be the way apathy appears in dealing with a rebellious child.
“It is beyond repair” may be the way apathy appears in the challenges we face in our communities. When the challenges become so daunting because of the complexity created by the break-down of the family, generational poverty, lack of positive role models, ineffective public and private interventions, that we just check out with the general loss of hope because of the enormity of the problem.
Throughout our journey of life, we will all face moments when apathy enters our mindset. Here are a few considerations to address the challenge:
- Recognize it. Be attune to our own thoughts and perceptions to when we sense ourselves slipping into “I just don’t care anymore.”
- Place a reality check on hopes and dreams. Being on the brink of “I just don’t care anymore” forces us to ask the big questions in life like purpose, goals, and what really matters. It gives us a chance to gain perspective on our own desires, clarifies needs vs. wants, and helps prioritize what is really important that we need to commit to doing.
- Take small steps in the direction we need to go with the truth that the meaningful and important things in life are achieved on a long, slow journey. Close relationships and service to a cause greater than our own are never captured in a get rich quick scheme.
Our character, that internal voice that guides our thoughts, decisions, and actions can be a strong defense against apathy. As we guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions by principles like perseverance, compassion, understanding, and commitment, we build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to continue on the journey to reach our full potential.