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Get Unstuck. Reclaim Your Purpose. Win Today.

While You’re Alive, Make Sure You Really Live

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While you’re alive, make sure you really live. It’s a statement I’ve made several times before, but one I can’t escape, especially lately.

Last Thursday was a hard day. Contrasting the cloudless sky and warm June weather, I attended the funeral of the mom of a friend—an experience that casted both a shadow of sadness and reflection. A short while ago, she was diagnosed with cancer, and most recently, it spread to her brain. On May 28, she took her last breath in peace. She was only 55 and left her husband and four young adult children.

After tweeting about it, someone responded, “horrible, but that’s what’s happens in life.” And yeah, tragedy does happen in this tenuous existence called life on planet earth, but my exposed emotions didn’t want to hear that rationale. Instead…

I call it robbery.
I call it B.S.
Because cancer was never the plan.

These days, another 30 years of life isn’t uncommon to anticipate at age 55. 30 years of memories. 30 years of grandkids. 30 years of whatever. That’s why my heart bleeds for her family remaining.

Return on Investment

Sitting in the funeral service, my mind raced with compassion and self-awareness about the priorities I’ve made room for in my life thus far. And it got me thinking about success and even more so, living a life of significance. I want to be successful (and so do you), but what resonated so strongly in my heart and mind that Thursday was how quickly adverse life circumstances provide a litmus test for the return on investment we’ve actually made through daily decisions.

For some, life is characterized by the fulfillment of purpose. Sadly, for others, the roadblocks of everyday life are too daunting to overcome.

Roadblocks

Standing in the way of your forward momentum will inevitably be roadblocks of inconvenience, disappointment, addiction to the approval of others, fear of failure, fear of risk, and fear of the unknown. But you and I cannot afford to succumb to those intimidations on the way to living a life of significance. Doing so will siphon our undeveloped potential and effectively produce a heap of regret.

The psalmist, in Psalm 90:12, reinforces the importance of having a realistic view of our short lives when he wrote, “So teach us to number our days, that we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom.” Speaking of fear as it relates to this subject, I think the only thing we should be afraid of is wasting our life—that apprehension about the brevity of our existence would motivate us to leave no dream or pursuit buried in the soil of potential.

It’s why I believe graveyards are the museums of undeveloped possibility.

Buried Treasure

To my point, speaker/author Les Brown said, “The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry our their dream.”

And that’s a sad ending. So the question begs and answer: what are you waiting for?

Even in the midst of fear and setbacks, we still have a choice to do something—to do anything that has the potential to add value to our life and the lives of those around us. And even in the midst of uncertainty, we have the choice to either isolate and sulk about what isn’t working in life or, as my friend’s mom did just days before passing, go out for ice cream.

Who cares if your next venture doesn’t work out. At least you tried, right? Who cares if the relationship doesn’t pan out the way you anticipated. At least you took a risk and gained even more clarity about what you really want in a significant other.

So whether you’re lacking clarity about the next step in front of you or lack the courage to even take the next step, I believe the following three indicators will help determine if you’re living too safe an existence.

3 Indications that Your Life is Too Safe

  1. You haven’t stepped outside your comfort zone lately. Staying safely tucked under the covers of comfort blanket our minds from growing, expanding, and learning new things. I really believe that living life inside a “bubble” not only prevents us from exploring our full potential but also hampers our emotional and social growth.
  2. Your dreams don’t scare you. There’s something to be said about the person whose dreams extend beyond the capacity of their current resources and know-how. To that, I believe the muscle of perseverance and mental toughness is developed amidst challenges.
  3. You haven’t failed lately. Failure is an event, not a person. But too often, we confuse the experience of failing with the imposed identity of being a failure. And in doing so, we lock ourselves in a prison of “same” for fear of making a mistake. How sad it is though that as a result of doing so, we effectively atrophy our character. And at the end of the day, our lives are not our own. We will give account for that which was entrusted to us.

So take this short life of yours and make sure you really live. Just like my friend’s mom chose to do each day.