How many professionals out there have focused on careers, focused on the next step in life and put off actually living life? I know I have. I’ve forgone going on trips, skipped out on friends’ weddings to save money, have rarely eaten out, again to save money. I’ve put work and training above all else with the thought that “I’ll do it when I’m done and when I’m free”
Well, I’m done with school; I’m free from training. Now? I’m working. All. The. Time. First, it was to prove that I was good at my job and dedicated, to make a good impression. Then it was to pay off student loans. Now it’s because we are short staffed (seriously, why is this always a problem) and they always need extra help.
IT NEVER ENDS.
I’ve made it a point to take my vacation time off. I have always been an advocate for taking time off, yet, when it comes to actual day-to-day living, I think I still fail. More often than not, I spend evenings at home either because I’m too tired, because I have to work early the next day, or because I’ve got some project to complete, which of course I’m not getting paid to do, I just have to do it.
Life is Short, More So Than We Think
My mother got sick a few years ago. My mother has always been one to enjoy life, though she’s also always been cautious about spending money and planning for the future. She was supposed to retire and had all kinds of plans for her life afterward and then she got sick. She had so many regrets and would get so sad and angry about the situation she had been forced into. Because of this, now when I tell her about something I want to do or something I want to buy, without hesitation she says three words: “just do it”.
She’s learned the hard way that anything can happen, at any time, to anyone. All you have is today.
I know this, I think we all do, but it’s hard to live by the motto of “life is short, I’m going to make the most of it”. Work gets in the way, obligations and responsibilities float to the top of our to-do lists, we succumb to the fatigue and tiredness we feel every day and we forget to truly appreciate what we have. Instead, we put off living in the moment and instead “schedule” it for later in the form of vacations or weekends off. I’ve definitely done this.
However, life is happening as we speak. It is not something to be lived “later”. It is meant to be lived NOW. While many of you reading this might be young, life is short. Shorter than we realize. The idea that we will live forever or live long lives may not be true. I work in healthcare, where every day I see people my age getting sick, or suffering complications from surgery. That’s the thing right? Anything can happen to anyone at any time. You never know what will happen in five minutes, in five days or in five months. You can certainly plan for it, but you cannot predict what will actually happen.
As a result, I’ve worked hard to remind myself, that no matter how I’m feeling, sad, tired, lonely, or unmotivated, especially now, I have to still be present. I have to NOT put off doing something for later because later may not come.
Make Living in the Moment a Reality
This isn’t to say that you should ignore your work or neglect your responsibilities. This is just to say that when you have the chance to do something social, to do something fun, or to give yourself a break, TAKE it. Don’t let the tiredness of the week, or the annoyances of work get in the way. Don’t let the idea that you’ll “go next time” or “do it later” take over.
So how can you do this effectively?
One day at a time.
That’s it. Again, you can’t plan what will happen, all you can do is seize the opportunities you see. Take advantage of the free time that comes up. Take advantage of a nice day outside. If you get a chance or an invitation to go do something new, make an effort to go. Make living in the now a priority.
Budget issues may come up here and I agree, being spontaneous can certainly get expensive. But, on the flip side, living with a philosophy of “life is short, I’m going to live it, ” doesn’t have to break the bank.
However you decide to live your life is entirely up to you.
Create your own standard for what a fulfilling day looks like to you. Create your own rules of what you will do with extra time or extra sunshine. There is no right answer. Just what makes you happy, makes you feel satisfied that you have truly made the most of your day.
One day at a time.
The present is all we’ve got. I’m a planner and a worrier, so I understand how hard it can be to just focus on the moment and be present. However, I like to remind myself that what will happen tomorrow is not in my control. I have to be grateful that I have today. I have my health and ability to part in things I want to do.
Also, I’ve made it my priority to spend money on things that give me new experiences. So when I see the opportunities arise to do so, I jump at them. Otherwise, I spend my free afternoons doing other things that I know fill my soul: reading, blogging, cooking, watching movies, going for walks, hitting up the gym, or lighting my fire pit. To quote myself 🙂 :
Living your best life is not a fancy thing. Its just an idea that you are making the most of your time so that if something does happen tomorrow, you’ll hopefully have fewer regrets.
Life is Short. Don’t Delay
We waste so much of it worrying about the future, fretting about the past and not appreciating what is front of our faces. Writing this makes me sad because I’m taken back to my Mom’s illness, and the things she said to me at the time about her life. You don’t want to wait for something bad to happen before you start living.
On the same note, don’t wait for some major life events to happen before you decide to start living. I know people who’ve said, “I can’t wait to get married so I can start my life”.
Um, please, do not waste time and depend on someone else before you live your life. Your life is passing you by now; however lonely it is, it’s happening. You can choose to embrace your time and your freedom, or you can choose to waste it in hopes that you’ll “start living” once you’re in a relationship. You’re effectively making life even shorter for yourself if you do that. Think of all the missed opportunities that you’re letting go to do exactly what you want!
So be present and appreciate today. Be motivated to go out and spend time with family and friends. Doing these small things can change your life for the better. Enjoy what you can, let go of what you can’t control, and don’t delay life. Who knows, by doing so you may become an inspiration for someone else.