“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful, that’s what matters to me.” — Steve Jobs
Each day, you’re given 86,400 seconds to make the most of. You’re given the latitude to pursue what you want, even if it only ends up being for a very small percentage of those seconds. You have time. You have a shot — and that’s all that most of us can really ask for. So, when I see people squandering that time and wasting it on things that don’t add value and that waste their talents, it gets me down.
But more than that — it puzzles me. So many of us don’t realize the opportunities we’re letting pass us by.
An investment toward a venture and new beginning doesn’t take nearly as much time each day as you think. It’s not about one lump sum of output for one day over a few days or week. The journey is about repetition. It’s about consistency and continuous output. Showing up each day and finding a way to let yourself shine, in all your authenticity, in whatever your thing is.
So why do we spend time on things that don’t matter? For one thing — too many of us haven’t defined what matters most to us. As crazy as that sounds, we simply don’t know. We haven’t taken the time in deep thought and imagination to actually visualize and verbalize what we love and what means the most to us in this lifetime.
This manifests itself in our professional and personal lives, as well as how we perceive opportunities. Actually, it sometimes comes down to the way we perceive things like, well, vegetables. Take this from Stanford professor S. Christian Wheeler:
You may wish you liked your job more than you do, and you may find ways to make it more palatable, “but maybe your job really is bad.” Or you may want to eat more broccoli because you know it’s good for you, but if you dislike the taste there may be no way to convince yourself to eat it. Source: Stanford Graduate School of Business
We shouldn’t have to convince ourselves to like something that isn’t worth our time. While many of us need jobs, we’d be better off taking the time to specify what we really want instead of languishing or suffering in a role that is more mentally and emotionally draining than worth its yield in monetary income.
The choice is yours
We have a choice — that’s the point. And choice is enabled when we brainstorm and list out things that mean something to us. These are values, goals, passions and defining what success or happiness look like. It’s not hard to wonder how someone became successful or why some people are happier than others. They didn’t just fly by the seat of their pants and stumble into those states.
“The ultimate aim of the human mind, in all its efforts, is to become acquainted with truth.” ―Eliza Farnham
They consciously planned, imagined, visualized and activated that successful state or feeling of happiness. It takes time and effort. So many people, due to emotions like nervousness, lack of faith, or the mode of indecisiveness fail to take the time to do this work. They think it should be overlooked and that they should just jump right in and keep churning away and working hard.
But there’s a big difference between hard work without a light at the end of the tunnel, and hard, intelligent work that is designed to get us to an end goal and let us reap the rewards of learning and growth on our journey. We grow, we find meaning and we reach out pinnacle of self-actualization when we define what matters most to us and then approach that with a positive attitude and inspired, intelligent, industrious work ethic.
So put your smartphone down. Turn down that invite for happy hour drinks on Friday night, that turns into a long night on the town, spilling into the precious time you could use on Saturday morning consciously plotting your future plans. It’s not worth it. Your devotion to what matters most to you — whether it be family, your job, your faith or your passion — should be valued above everything else.
Don’t get disillusioned or caught up in the instant gratification social media world that prizes sensationalism and fleeting “cool” things over substance. Your journey to finding yourself and what you truly love is often long, sometimes lonely, but always worth it. An inspired, bold life is one lived on your terms and infused with doing meaningful, joyful things that light the fire inside of you, and simultaneously add value to the life of others.
Go for it.
Find your way!
This article first appeared on Medium.