“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.” – Steve Jobs
Death. The word itself bleeds in darkness, emptiness, meaninglessness, and hopelessness. Most of us avoid the word at all costs and for good reason. Very rarely will you discuss the topic on a first date and if you do, maybe that’s why you’re still single. Death is rarely mentioned in the professional world and it evades our every thought, even when it knocks on our consciousness. Human beings were never created for it and because we were never meant to die, we are still averse to the concept and gripping reality that death will, indeed, meet us all one day.
As a follower of Jesus, I truly believe that Jesus’ death and resurrection brings us life if we believe in Him. However, death is still a temporary reality we all must face, ultimately ceasing the time where we can love, dream, create, imagine, and ultimately inspire others to know the God of the universe. How are you spending this brief time on this earth? Are you offering anything with your life that will last beyond you, or is this life simply for your own pleasures and indulgences?
The Scripture weighs in on the subject of how we conduct ourselves in this life as well:
“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5: 15-16
Are you making wise decisions with how you spend your time? This question is often on running through my mind, especially after I have made a series of unwise decisions that have robbed me of my joy, hope, dreams, and peace with God.
One of the most toxic beliefs in America is the concept that Benjamin Franklin presented to us when he said, “Time is money.” This concept does hold truth, to some extent, if we read it in the context of time being a currency that we cannot earn again. In other words, once you’ve spent it, it’s gone. However, after working in the corporate world for a few years, there is another context that most of America is taking from the famous saying. Basically, most American’s are buying into the idea that as long as they are making money with their time, it really doesn’t matter what they’re doing in order to get that money. That’s why we have so many people working in jobs that they hate because of a monetary ambition in America that says you must have items A, B, and C to be respected and loved by those around you.
This toxicity also flows over into our relationships and can be a destructive force separating families and friendships. How many times have you had a friend cancel plans for a more lucrative use of their time? How many husbands and wives are getting home later and later, missing time with their families, in the name of making a good “living”. What once was an actual livelihood has turned into a greedy excuse for getting more stuff with very little regard of future consequences.
Many conversations that I’ve had with acquaintances in the corporate world have been very telling of this truly toxic embodiment of the American dream. Many of these acquaintances have homes, expensive cars, a lifestyle that is very comfortable, and a belief that financial security is first and foremost. But when we’ve discussed pursuing a dream and working towards a career in a field that would yield more reward, most of these individuals seem resigned to living a “normal” existence. And please, let’s get honest for a moment, “normal” is just a figment of your imagination. There is no such thing as a “normal” life. There is such a thing as a complacent life versus an extraordinary life, but how can anyone classify “normal”?
When I recently resigned from my position in a corporate setting one colleague said to me, “It’s great that you have the opportunity to pursue your dreams; I wish I could do the same.” What’s amazing is that this individual is only in her early 30s and has a lifetime ahead of her! She’s already resigned to the idea that she’s making money doing a job she’s not passionate about, but she might as well stay with it the next 30 years since she’s already in the industry. What a ridiculous way to live your life!
Humanity can be absolutely mental when it comes to how we manage our time and what we give our time to pursue, but then we are amazingly committed to making good decisions in so many other areas of life. Most of us, when looking for a spouse, search for someone we feel can be a lifelong partner for the entire journey. Most of us, when looking at our personal finances, want to save and utilize those resources to fund the purchases closest to our hearts such as houses, food, future ambitions, our children’s welfare, and retirement. And if you go to the gym to lose weight, don’t you normally have an end result that you’re working towards?
And yet, even with so much practicality in so many other areas of our lives, most of us consider exchanging 5 days out of 7 each week as a “necessary evil” to make money. Or even worse, we use words like “responsible” to explain why we are sticking with that career path until retirement. If you are being responsible to feed your family, then I applaud you and completely agree that you should take that responsibility seriously. But even for you I would have to ask this question: what else can you do, even if it’s just a side project at this time, to pursue your dreams? Just because you have bills doesn’t mean that you can’t provide for your family in a more meaningful way, even if it’s a gradual process and not immediately realized.
Ultimately, I truly believe that our desire for job security, a paralyzing fear of failure, and our addiction to comfort are the greatest enemies of the individuals we long to become.
Please don’t get me wrong here; I’m not saying that money isn’t essential to life and I would know just as well as the rest. I’ve worked in retail, the food industry, in the corporate world, and in various other capacities, but I’ve become better at “investing” my time and not “spending” it. Just resigning to the mediocre is like an overweight person running on a treadmill and then going home to eat doughnuts for dinner. Basically, it’s a lot of work with no ultimate gain. Why not make your work and your time truly useful, not just for temporary monetary gain, but also for future impact?
Even if you are 40 – 50 and feel like you’ve missed the opportunity to take risks and dream big dreams, you are greatly mistaken. Instead, you should start asking yourself what you truly want to accomplish with your life, what steps you would need to take, and then start making choices each day that will get you closer to that goal.
If you are still young and figuring yourself out, I encourage you to seek God, be adventurous, take risks, live with passion for how you spend your time, and find a way to make a positive impact on others each day. Sometimes the simplest decisions can make a gigantic impact beyond our understanding when faced with making a choice.
And last of all, this is not a guilt trip. If you have not taken a lot of risks with your life and if you are working in a job where you feel like you’re stuck, give yourself grace. I’ve been there many years of my own life and I’m still learning to trust God to redeem the brokenness inside of me. It’s not that you shouldn’t look for a way out of your current circumstances, but recognize that God can redeem even our greatest failures and all of the lost time. Begin making wise decisions about where you commit your time and what you are doing with your life and trust God to handle the outcome.