I recently got some sad news. In fact, my entire high school graduating class of 1987 did. One of our former classmates died suddenly last week. He was in his mid/late 40s, and the cause of his death is unknown at this point.
He was an incredibly talented guitar player back in high school, and went on to study a combination of music and engineering in college. I also know he worked for a company that designs and sells guitar equipment.
And while I don’t know for a fact that he was happy, my guess is that, at least professionally, he quite intentionally found a way to combine his passions, talents, and experience into a life that he found fulfilling.
That thought makes his passing less sad for me.
This is not a dress rehearsal. This is it!
As soon as I heard the news of my classmate’s unexpected passing, my mind went to this thought:
Life is short, it could end at any time
Make sure you’re living the way you want to live
And I don’t claim any originality of thought here. Ever since my college years, I’ve always carried with me, in the back of my mind, some version of the quote:
Life is not a dress rehearsal
I’ve seen this quote attributed to British novelist Rose Tremain, but also a similar one attributed to philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Either way, it’s a good reminder that there’s no point in waiting for “the real thing” to come around.
This is it. You’re on. The audience is seated, the mic is hot, cameras are rolling, so commit to your performance and start living your life with intention, whatever that means for you.
Getting similar messages from different sources
It’s interesting to me how I’ve been reminded recently of this idea of intentional living in the face of an uncertain and potentially fleeting life. Sure, I’m a coach who helps people figure out how to live with more intention, especially when it comes to their careers, so I probably think about this type of thing more than most. Yet, I sense a type of synchronicity in the way I’ve been receiving similar messages on this subject from different sources lately.
A couple weeks ago I had lunch with a former work colleague and I asked him how his summer has been going. He paused to reflect for a second and then told me about a conversation he was having with his wife just the other day. They were saying to each other, as they sat watching their young daughters play in the pool, something to the effect of:
“Let’s recognize that we’re experiencing – right here, right now – the ‘Good Ol’ Days’ that we’ll reminisce about later.”
The other day I caught on TV the 2004 movie Garden State, which Zach Braff wrote, directed and starred in. Braff plays a young adult who’s a bit “stuck” in life right now. His dad, who’s also (to very creepy effect) his psychiatrist, wonders if what Braff’s character is intending to do next might be inadvisable, and too much to take on – too overwhelming. Braff’s character jumps in:
“This is my life, Dad, this is it. I spent 26 years waiting for something else to start, so, no, I don’t think it’s too much to take on, because it’s everything there is. I see now it’s all of it.”
Where are your messages coming from?
Take a moment and think about the reminders you’ve been getting to live with more intention. About the reminders that life is short, and that you really have to make the most of it.
Is it when you’ve heard of someone’s life being cut way too short? Or of someone’s being laid off from work? Or maybe that happened to you?
Or is it when your company reorganized and you realized that you:
(1) are vulnerable to changes over which you have little control, and
(2) are NOT doing the work you want to be doing?
What does living with intention mean for you?
For some, living with intention means focusing on enjoying life. For others it may mean focusing on sharing their gifts with the world. For others it may be to follow their dreams, or maybe to live with integrity.
If you’re reading this post, my wish for you is that you’re doing exactly what you want to do, and that your life is in a balance that works for you. That’s the way I hope my late high school classmate, the incredibly talented guitar player, was living his life.
But if you’re NOT living how you want to live, it’s not too late. If you’re doing work you’d rather NOT be doing, you CAN do something about it.
“How many more months of not living with intention am I going to plow through, knowing how short and unpredictable life can be?”
Remember, the time is now. The ‘Good Ol’ Days’ are today. This is not a dress rehearsal. You’re on. This is it!
Next steps to living with more intention
Follow these 4 steps to be on your way to living more intentionally:
- Get clear on what living with intention means for you
- Define the results you’d like to have in the next 6 months in the area of “living with intention”
- Commit to taking actions in the next 2 weeks that move you toward how you want to live
- Enlist support to keep yourself accountable
Need help with this? That’s what I do as a coach, and I’d love to help.
Contact me for a free exploratory meeting.