Take the Unpaved Road
(To find out who you are and what you love doing)
A friend recently gave me a book as a gift. It’s titled The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry. It’s authored by John Mark Comer and speaks to the same subject as this PAUSE MORE. RUSH LESS. newsletter. How do you slow down your life so you don't miss the most meaningful moments? You can only push 90 MPH for so long before you’re running on fumes.
The author is a middle-aged mega-church lead pastor with multiple church venues. The hours, issues, and responsibilities were burning him out. One problem: he loved his job. He had only three choices: Continue and push himself into a health or family crisis. Quit and change careers. Or take the unpaved road.
He had an enviable church size, book sales, speaking gigs, social stats, and even a Wikipedia page. But he was emotionally unhealthy, spiritually shallow, and had a marriage that, in his own words, shifted from a “delight” to “duty.”
So, he took the offramp to the unpaved road.
What is the unpaved road? It’s the unexpected alternative to a problem: in his case, instead of his three options, he created a fourth. He demoted himself.
He cut his responsibilities to one church in one city. He set new metrics for success: walking to work, improving his emotional health, working fewer hours, dating his wife, playing Star Wars Legos with his kids, detoxing from Netflix, reading fiction again for the first time since high school, and walking the dog before bed.
“I’m on the unpaved road with no clue where it leads, but that’s okay,” he said. “I honestly value who I’m becoming over where I end up. And for the first time in years, I’m smiling at the horizon.”
His story reminded me of a time I took the offramp from corporate America in the summer of 1991. I loved my job at a Fortune 500 company. I had been there fourteen years, but I loved something more: time with my sons. The early 90s was a time when working from home was a new concept to most. However, like forty-one million other Americans, I took the leap and launched a home-based business as an advertising copywriter and executive speechwriter. My wife was at home with the kids. No back-up income. I had to buy insurance and sell my writing and communication skills to companies to support a family of four. Welcome to feast or famine—but I watched my sons grow up, and built relationships with them that resonate today. I ran a successful business on this unpaved road for almost ten years.
The essence of my journey is best exemplified by an article I wrote a few years ago and published by Chicken Soup for the Soul. “Time of Possession” was the title of the article in their Reboot Your Life book.
(I share the link from my website here. (https://jamescmagruder.com/reboot-your-life)
Regardless of your career, there are offramps and unpaved roads to a better, and perhaps slower, life—if you’re unhappy and running too fast. I can’t tell you what the unpaved road is for you—or how you will navigate it, but it’s out there.
Sometimes finding it is like getting lost—you don’t know where you are temporarily, but you always find your way home.
The scenery is better too.
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON: Are you living a “hurried” life? Set aside time to think about how to slow down, eliminate stress, and redefine new metrics for success. (I did three years of research before I left corporate America. During that time, I also set up a detailed plan to find my offramp and successfully cruise my unpaved road. It was an exciting ride I will never forget.)
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