Your life will end.
Sooner or later.
As macabre as this sounds, it’s true. Each day is a gift of existence and you get to choose how to live. Every morning when you awake is not “just another day.” It is THE day. It is the only day you are certain to wake up to. I know we shouldn’t necessarily live each day as if it’s our last and that living that way wouldn’t be sustainable. But I think that generally, we maintain a dangerous perspective of our mortality and how one ought to experience life. We lean too hard on an expectation of a long and healthy life, and the concept of working hard to retire comfortably is ingrained from childhood. For some, this will work well and they will reach their “golden years” feeling fulfilled. For many, we will look back and say … “What the heck was I thinking?!”
Isn’t it scary to think that “someday” may never come for all those things that you really want to do, but don’t make time for? It might be travel, starting a business, eating out at a ridiculously pricey restaurant that serves 16 courses, skydiving, taking an art class, going to the spa, taking a trip to see grandparents, hiking that one really impressive mountain you’ve been eyeing for years or checking out that one trail you keep hearing about. Why is it that we postpone those things that will make us smile and fill our hearts with joy? Why do we risk that “someday” may never arrive?
I play a game with myself to help maintain my perspective. I ask myself if something will matter to me a week from now, a year from now, 10 years from now, or even on my death-bed. This helps me assign value to various experiences, to shake off an annoying or frustrating interactions, and to make decisions that feel difficult.
When Rodney and I were trying to figure out what to do with our lives, we asked ourselves, “What are we likely to regret most when we’re elderly?” And what we came up with: we are likely to regret that we didn’t travel more. Isn’t that a fairly common one for folks? I’m guessing it is, and I’m guessing that you may have had similar thoughts about wanting to get out into the world more. We use all kinds of excuses to justify why we don’t travel: money, kids, job, responsibilities. But the thing is, if you want it enough, you can make it happen. You just have to want it enough to work for it. You start putting money aside, you start budgeting and you stop making superfluous purchases. You read about how other families with kids travel. You realize that the world will roll along without you if you duck out for a few weeks and take that trip you’ve always wanted to. You CAN do it. If you really want to.
The trick is to make a concrete plan. Make the decision. Really, that is the hardest part. In fact, even if you decide NOT to do whatever it is, and take it off your “someday” list altogether, I bet you will feel lighter and more satisfaction from that decision alone. If instead, you scratch the item from your “someday” list and move it to a concrete plan, but think that you are likely to cave in and back out on it, build in accountability. Make it public. Use an anticharity. You know your habits and what makes you tick. What will you need to do to make sure you follow through?
What is on your “someday” list? Is there something hanging out there that really belongs on your “do it now” list? What are the excuses you’re using to push it out until “someday?” When you’re wrinkled and hairless (should you be so fortunate), will you be looking back with regrets and wishing you had done more when your body was capable, or will you feel fulfilled and satisfied with the life you chose to live?
I recently heard this Japanese proverb that stuck with me:
Fall seven times, get up eight.
We’re only human. But we can try. And try again. And try again. Don’t let your old-person-self down.