We all have choices. How to live, how to be, how to prosper. We all choose daily whether we value societal success over self worth. We decide how to prioritize in life. There is usually no going back once you make a choice. You can say or do something in a split second as a reaction to being provoked that has lasting consequences. You can forgive that person too late. You can set your bar of standards too low.
We all have consequences to every choice we make.
But the greatest consequence is not doing everything you want to do in the time you have.
So, I developed a plan. Here’s how to live as though you were dying. Why? Preparing for the end brings s a new beginning. It changes the perspective we have on what is right in front of us. What would you do if you only had a year, a few months, days or even hours to live?
1. Start with yourself. You have huge potential in your passions. Are you living it before it is too late? Or are you being too practical and sticking with the safer route?
2. Gratitude. You’ve heard this before I’m sure.
3. Take off the mask. Share your vulnerabilities.
4. Let Go. Let go of what you can’t control.
Let’s start with Potential.
You were given potential to do something or say something no one else can. You have a unique story. Connecting your journey to your goals is how to engage others in your life. Don’t be afraid of oversharing. I don’t mean making social media your diary. I mean letting others in to see what you have faced.
You can’t control their reactions, but you can finally become free.
Once you do that, opportunities will emerge. Someone else has faced it too. And someone has been where you are standing.
So, create a Mentor Shelf. Find mentorship and partnerships in building your dreams.
I already have. When I was 26 in 2016, I was diagnosed with bipolar. I took a year to regroup and slow down. I partnered with an editor friend of mine for a book I am writing. I decided on a future webdesigner, etc. I joined an online group for entrepreneurs to network our dreams and goals with each other. I learned from Guy Kawasaki and many startup gurus principles that could be applied to my own dream of writing a book. Some were writers, some were not. But I knew who I could turn to.
You may be working a dead end job, you may be disgusted with your circumstances or you might be right where you need to be. Wherever you are, there is always a chance to start over.
That chance, that daily minute by minute chance is a Gift.
Which brings us to the next point.
I once thought I had nothing compared to others. I did not keep up with the latest trends. In fact, for a time, I was obsessed with a vintage clothing store in Cambridge when I leaved briefly in Boston. Anyways, it wasn’t until I worked in St. Lucia on a volunteer trip during college that I saw how happy these young children were with little to nothing.
They didn’t have shoes, it was too hot, they had no access to technology in their schools, they knew poverty. We were there to give them shoes. We did this, but it didn’t feel like enough. When we flew back, I later learned a hurricane hit and we did not know the outcome of many of the lives we touched.
All we have is right now. This is your time. You haven’t been defeated yet. Sometimes, it is in giving when we realize what we have and appreciate our lives. I was at a soup kitchen in St. Lucia where the workers knew the names and preferences of the homeless men that would visit it. That was powerful. That was a gift.
Then, take off the mask. Stop hiding the struggles. Screw the stigmas. You can be who you really are at any time that you want to. You can live your life according to your vision for it and no one else’s. Be unashamed of where you have come from, what you look like, and keep your eyes only on where you are going. Then, and only then, can you really be here.
There is an activity where teens started to reveal their truths by saying, “If you really knew me…” and filling in the blanks. I did this activity with teens at a summer camp when I was a director of a leader in training program. Here’s what I said, “That I lost my grandpa at a young age who was my everything, and I never recovered since.” I got people saying he would be proud of me, giving me hugs and vice versa; I too helped each teen discover his or her truth.
And it didn’t end there. The next day we played a game called “Cross the Line.” A rope lay in the middle of the grass, and we were to step over it if we could relate to something. We did this silently, with tears as we went on. I caved and cried too. Everything was met with hugs.
This was a powerful experience that changed my life and theirs. We repeated the activities with the next set of teens to come there and refined the program around this connection that was desired.
It also taught me to Let Go.
So, finally, Let Go.
It sounds so simple and easy, but it is one of the hardest tasks you can ever manage. To surrender.
Here’s a trick to keep in mind- You don’t have to have all the answers. You just have to see how your life is connecting the dots. Steve Jobs once gave a Commencement Speech on this very subject. Moments in our lives connect and lead us somehow to who we are meant to be.
But we have to let go in order to embrace the process.
That situation that didn’t work out, that friend you lost….all of it taught you something. And that’s what you have to save- the lesson.
When you focus on yourself, find gratitude, take off the mask and let go…you become a whole other person. I challenge you today to surrender. In the end, it’s all about our choices. What will you choose? How did you make that decision? What is your “why?” Only you can answer this for yourself. Only you can make it all up because that’s what we do as human beings, we use our imaginations. So use yours. Begin there. As if you were running out of time. What would you do? What would you choose? What direction would you take? Only you can decide.