People always talk about living each day to the fullest as if it were the last you had, which is a very real situation for some people. But those of us who believe we still have a lot of life left to live don’t abide by this advice. We make plans far in the future instead of tackling them today because we believe our lives are busy enough as it is. We put all kinds of hopes and wishes on a waiting list and before we know it, our waiting list becomes our “I wish I hadn’t waited” list.
Our culture is one that caters to waiting. We put off things that we want to do because we feel it’s not yet the “right” time to do them. We blindly follow a self-imposed proper sequence of life events. Let’s break the sequence. You just might find that a risk taken under imperfect circumstances could be one of the best decisions you’ve ever made. I know because I’ve done it and you can read about it here: Crazy or Courageous?.
But that’s only one break in the chain. And it’s much easier said than done. I’ve put countless other items on my waiting list and I’ll be the first to admit that acting on them is not an easy task to begin and not one that our lifestyles make any easier to finish. But if you don’t get started then you could end up depriving yourself of experiences that are incredibly important to you.
Let’s start together. Write down the items on your waiting list. Then order them from least to most difficult to achieve. A condensed version of mine would appear as follows:
- Eating healthier.
- Adhering to an exercise regimen.
- Saving money spent on dining out to afford a dream trip to Europe.
- Bringing an idea I’ve had for years to life.
- Taking the GMAT.
- Adopting a dog.
- Getting married.
- Having kids.
If I start today at the top of my list, I will be able to make steady progress toward crossing off the most difficult items. If you’re not progressing toward the bottom of your waiting list, then you’re not living today to the best of your ability.
I adore my dad not only as a dad, but also as a person who has always put other people before himself and has done so with a smile. A few weeks ago I was paging through a book with sayings about fathers and almost every one mirrored a feeling I have about my own. I thought I’d share them as they might hold true for someone else.
- Whenever I try to recall that long-ago first day of school only one memory shines through: my father held my hand.
- My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived and let me watch him do it.
- Whenever I [accomplished] something…There would be this certain look in his eyes. It made me feel great.
- My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give. He believed in me.
- Dad instilled in me the attitude of prevailing. If there’s a challenge, go for it. If there’s a wall to break down, break it down.
- I think of my dad as the strongest man I’ve ever met because he’s the kindest man I’ve ever met.
- There is no friend like someone who has known you since the day you were born.
- That is the best: to laugh with someone because you both think the same things are funny.
- All these years later, wherever I am, I still hear your laughter, still feel your love, still see your smile.
- The measure of life is not its duration but its donation.
- Dad, I love you not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me.
One of the most insightful things my dad has said to me…
- You have too much good energy, kid, to waste it on things you shouldn’t.
My dad has always called me kid. I love that. I consider it one of many indications that he knows how much I look up to him. Proud dads don’t always realize they have proud daughters (or sons). Make sure you tell them.
Once upon a time in October, I defined my life goal: touch lives. Basically, I want to interact with people in ways that inspire them to be better and happier.
During my dad’s recent extended stay in the hospital, I’ve watched nurses and doctors care for people and make real differences in people’s lives every minute of the day. I doubt any statement of my admiration and appreciation for their medical team could do my feelings justice. They’re making a significant difference in the lives of others, which is exactly what I hope to do.
This got me thinking about my life goal. Or rather, how I will accomplish my life goal. You can’t declare a goal without developing a plan to achieve it. What was I thinking?
I began to wonder how I could have a true impact on other people without being part of the medical community. After much thought and even sharing my thoughts with other people who probably felt I read way too much into this, I realized I too can have an influence on people’s lives – but in different ways than a doctor or a nurse can. In order to do this and realize my life goal, I need a life strategy. And I need guidelines to help inform my strategy. Below are some guiding principles I came up with off the top of my head:
- Make sure the people that mean the most to me know how special they are.
- Do kind things for people I don’t know. Every day.
- Do my part to help solve societal problems; the most crucial of which I believe to be lack of education about important issues.
- Always act in ways my dad would be proud of.
- Continually challenge myself in my career to ensure that the work I create and the people I create it with and for align with my life goal.
- Communicate what’s important to me.
- Never stop learning; make time to teach other people.
- Seek to inspire and be inspired.
- Laugh and have fun.
- Be grateful.
Although the first written representation, this is certainly not the first act of what will eventually be the meaning of my entire life. Wow, that’s kind of a big deal.
To be continued.