Do you tend to feel really blessed about your life as it is today or do you feel bitter about how things have worked out so far? Or, maybe you fall somewhere in between.

Would you like to achieve more, earn more and become more?

Thoreau once asked, Did you ever hear of a man who has striven all his life faithfully toward an object and in no measure obtained it? If a man constantly aspires, is he not elevated? Did ever a man try heroism, magnanimity, truth, sincerity, and find that there was no advantage in them, that it was a vain endeavor?

I believe Thoreau was simply restating the great truth that we reap what we sow. This law isn’t discussed much these days. It seems to have slipped into the dark pit of politically incorrect speech. Regardless, truth is truth.

Thoreau was simply reminding us that good efforts eventually produce good results. Kind of a simple proposition, right?

In the long run, you will get out of life what you put into it. This includes what you want out of life, what you demand from life, and what you work toward.

There’s an old-fashioned poem that you may have come across before. It was written by Jessie Rittenhouse (sometimes attributed to Napoleon Hill) and it’s called, “My Wage.” Yes, it’s a bit linguistically antiquated, but it’s true, nonetheless, and very much worth some serious thought.

I bargained with Life for a penny, and Life would pay no more,
However I begged at evening when I counted my scanty store.
For Life is a just employer, he gives you what you ask,
But once you have set the wages, why, you must bear the task.
I worked for a menial’s hire, only to learn, dismayed,
That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid.

Let’s take a closer look at the clear lessons in this gem. First, “I bargained with life for a penny.” If you think little and expect little, that’s what you’re going to receive. And that’s ok if that’s all you want. Just be clear on the trade off. And, don’t blame others if you someday realize you sowed the wrong seeds…or not enough seeds at all.

The second stanza reminds us that, “Life is a just employer, he gives you what you ask.” This is true to the core. Once we are out in the world, living on our own, we begin to learn that we get out of life what we put into it. This goes for our career, our relationships, our fitness, and everything else.

Sometimes rewards for productive efforts are delayed a bit, but they always come. Sooner or later, we reap what we sow. In the long run, nothing positive that you’ve done is wasted.

If you want to get more, make sure you are giving more.

Then the poem says, “But once you have set the wages, why you must bear the task.” This is an essential point. We set our “wages.” We determine what it is we want from life. We do this either overtly and emphatically with a clear goal. Or, it just happens to us when we make no decision or set no goal at all. Either way, we are establishing our own “wages.” And then we must bear the task.

If we think huge and demand a lot from ourselves, we must develop the work ethic that corresponds with ambition. This is very hard. But not nearly as hard as going through life never having made a decision or set an inspiring goal at all. Those who neglect to set their “wages” bear the heaviest task. Hoping to take the easier road, they foolishly make life far harder than it needs to be.

“That any wage I had asked of Life, Life would have willingly paid.”

I recommend you carve out some free time for a bit of deep work on your future. What is it you really, really want? What’s it worth to you?

What are the things in your life that make you feel really blessed? What’s working really well for you right now? Think about your family, your health, and your income. Think about your friends and your faith.

Think about your mindset and your outlook toward life in general. Think about your assets and your liabilities. Think about what you want to be different a decade from now.

You should be very interested in your future because you’re going to spend the rest of your life there…

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