There’s a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion. Life is too short not to focus more on what matters most.
Before you know it you will be asking, “How did it get so late so soon?” And seeing as it’s the end of December right now, perhaps you can already relate. So take time to reflect. Take time to realize what you want and need in the year ahead. Take time to take calculated risks. Take time to love, laugh, cry, learn, and forgive. Life is so much shorter than it often seems.
In our line of work we speak with people on a weekly basis who have been forced to ‘wake up’ to life’s fleeting nature. Consider these two excerpts from people’s stories that we recently received in our email inbox (both are being shared with permission):
- “Earlier today, in what’s likely to be one of our final conversations, she told me her only regret was that she didn’t appreciate every year with the same passion and purpose that she has had in the last two years after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. ‘I’ve accomplished so much recently,’ she said. ‘If I had only known, I would have started sooner.’”
- “This afternoon I was looking through an old Windows laptop that my dad used ten years ago before he died in a car accident. The laptop has been sitting around collecting dust at my mom’s house ever since. In a folder named ‘Video Project’ oddly placed at the root of the C: drive, I found a video file my dad made about a month before he died that my mom and I had never seen before. In the 15-minute video my dad talks about my mom and me, how grateful he is to be a part of our lives, and that he has no regrets at all about anything in his life — that he is totally at peace. He ended by saying, ‘I know you two might miss me someday since I’m the oldest, but please smile for me, because I’ve lived well…’”
These people’s stories are both inspiring and heartbreaking at the same time. And yet, they are incredibly common stories. Wake-up calls to life being short eventually ring true in every one of our lives, sometimes much sooner than we had expected. Which is precisely why Marc and I try to remind people to stop waiting. Now is the time to start learning, growing, and moving forward — so at the very least, you can rest free of regrets someday like the dad in the second story.
Remember, too many people wait all day for 5pm, all week for Friday, all year for the holidays, all their lives for happiness… And YOU don’t have to be one of them! Don’t wait until your life is almost over to realize how good it has been, or how much potential you had literally every step of the way. It’s time to wake up and make the most of what’s in front of you.
Here are ten quick wake-up calls you need to receive today, before it’s too late:
1. This moment is your real life.
Your real life is not between the moments of your birth and death. Your real life is between now and your next breath. The present — the here and now — is all the life you ever truly get. So practice living each moment in full, in kindness and peace, without fear and regret. And do the best you can with what you have in this moment; because that is all you can ever expect of anyone, including yourself. (Read The Power of Now.)
2. A lifetime isn’t very long.
Eighty years isn’t guaranteed. Many people get far less. Again, today is your life and you’ve got to fight for it! Fight for what’s right. Fight for what you believe in. Fight for what’s important to you. Fight for the people you love, and never forget to tell them how much they mean to you. Realize that right now you’re lucky because you still have a chance. So stop for a moment and think. Whatever you still need to do, start doing it today — take the next step. There are only so many tomorrows.
3. The sacrifices you make today will pay dividends in the future.
When it comes to working hard to achieve a dream — earning a degree, building a business, or any other personal achievement that takes time and commitment — one thing you have to ask yourself is: “Am I willing to live a few years of my life like many people won’t, so I can spend the better part of my life like many people can’t?” Let that sink in. May your dreams be bigger than your fears. May your actions speak louder than words. May your life preach louder than your lips… and may success be your noise in the end.
4. When you procrastinate, you become a victim to yesterday.
Yes, procrastination holds you back. But when you are proactive and productive, it’s as if yesterday is a kind friend that helps take a load off your back. So do something right now that your future self will thank you for. Trust me, tomorrow you’ll be happy you started today. (Note: Marc and I discuss this in more detail in the Success chapter of “1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently”.)
5. Failures are often good lessons.
Good things come to those who still hope even though they’ve been disappointed, to those who still believe even though they’ve tasted failure, to those who still love even though they’ve been hurt. So give yourself grace, and grow from the situations that didn’t work out. Remind yourself that you can disappoint people and still be good enough. You can fail and still be smart, capable and talented. You can let people down and still be worthwhile and deserving of love and admiration. We all make mistakes sometimes. Take a deep breath. You are allowed to be human, and learn the way on the way.
6. YOU are your most valuable relationship.
Sometimes we try to show the world we are flawless in hopes that we will be liked and accepted by everyone, but we can’t please everyone and we shouldn’t try. The beauty of us lies in our vulnerability, our complex emotions, and our authentic imperfections. When we embrace who we are and decide to be authentic, instead of who we think others want us to be, we open ourselves up to real relationships, real opportunities, and real success. So nurture the relationship you have with yourself today. You are GOOD enough, SMART enough, FINE enough, and STRONG enough. You don’t need other people to validate you; you are already VALUABLE.
7. A person’s actions speak the truth.
You’re going to come across people in your life who say all the right words at all the right times, but in the end it’s their actions you should judge them by. So pay attention to what people do consistently. Their daily actions will tell you almost everything you need to know. And remember that today is too important to waste. Take good care of your personal boundaries and what you allow yourself to absorb from others. Count your blessings, value the people who truly matter — the ones whose actions match their words — and move on from the drama with your head held high.
8. Small acts of kindness can make the world a better place.
Just keep reminding yourself that everyone you see around you is a human being who dreams of something, fears something, loves someone, and has lost someone. And… just keep being kind. Kindness is the only investment that never fails in the long run. And wherever there is a human being, there’s an opportunity for kindness. Learn to give, even if it’s just a smile, not because you have too much, but because you understand there are so many others who feel like they have nothing at all.
9. Behind every beautiful life, there has been some kind of worthwhile struggle.
You trip and you fall, you make mistakes and you fail, but you stand strong through it all — you live and you learn. You’re human, not perfect. You been wounded, not defeated. Think of what a priceless gift it is to grow through these experiences — to breathe, to think, to struggle, and to overcome challenges in the pursuit of the things you love. Yes, sometimes you will encounter heartache along the way, but that’s a small price to pay for immeasurable moments of love and joy. Which is why you must keep stepping forward even when it hurts, because you know the inner strength that has carried you this far can carry you the rest of the way.
10. Time and experience heals pain, and it can’t be rushed.
Recently, when Marc and I asked his 80-year-old dad about overcoming pain, this is how he explained it to us: Look at the circles below. The black circles represent our relative life experiences. Mine is larger because I am older and have experienced more in my lifetime. The smaller red circles represent a negative event in our lives. Assume we both experienced the same exact event, whatever the nature. Notice that the negative event circles are the same size for each of us; but also notice what percentage of the area they occupy in each of the black circles. Your negative event seems much larger to you because it is a greater percentage of your total life experiences. I am not diminishing the importance of this event; I simply have a different perspective on it. What you need to understand is that an overwhelmingly painful event in your life right now will one day be part of your much larger past and not nearly as significant as it seems.
Now, it’s your turn…
Yes, it’s your turn to make the most of what’s in front of you! So I hope you will have an inspired day today, that you will dream boldly and dangerously, that you will make some progress that didn’t exist before you took action, that you will love and be loved in return, and that you will find the strength to accept and grow from the troubles you can’t change. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and wisdom in this world), that you will, when you must, be wise with your decisions, and that you will always be extra kind to yourself and others.
And please leave Marc and me a comment below and let us know what you think of this post. Your feedback is important to us. 🙂
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