Dearest EXPLORE reader,
Sometimes I think that I have lived two lives (so far).
That might seem bi-polar, but if you think back on your own life, I bet that you could also identify some different “chapters” of your life that changed and shaped your life in ways that ultimately transformed many things about you. Sometimes I think that you are changed for the better, and unfortunately, sometimes you are changed for the worse.
I think I’ve been changed for both good, and bad.
I was daydreaming the other day and looking at houses that are for sale. It’s fun sometimes just to see what’s out there, what they cost, etc. As I looked at some of these houses, several caught my eye and would be an improvement from my current modest living conditions. I would think “Ya know, that one would actually work AND I can still afford it.” Yes, it costs more than my current home, but I could make the payment. Then I quickly realized that I would shut down the idea because I don’t trust my income anymore. This made me curious as I’ve been 100% self-employed for over 11 years and I’m not broke yet, so I wondered why I would suddenly distrust my income.
The reason why is because one of the unfortunate changes I’ve experienced is that my trust in the stability of life has been eroded due to the past few years. What is here one day, is gone the next. Marriages, jobs, clients, and even people…in the blink of an eye, they can be erased through no fault or action of your own. That’s a crappy perspective, though it’s an honest one. I am a bit relieved to realize, though, that the perspective is mirrored by a positive change in that it has made me immeasurably more thankful for everything that exists around me in this very moment. My house. My family. My job. And you, dear reader, who make this small business operate. So even though I fear that I cling too tightly to things now, I do think it’s good that I’m aware of the fragility of my existence and appreciate it far more.
In my job, I talk to small business owners all day every day. Most are successful people that have worked at their business for a long time, are astute with their strategies, and plan accordingly. Most are thinking 5, 10, and even 20 years down the road with their planning not only for their businesses, but for their lives. They are already talking about their 2020 budgets, what they are going to do in their personal lives in 10 years, and where they ultimately want to retire. I used to think in similar ways. I would think things like “In 5 years, I hope to be doing this or that in business…” or “If I invest my money here, in 20 years it will be worth a whole lot.”
Nowadays, I kind of smirk and chuckle when I hear these types of statements from people because, you see, in “My Life 2.0”, there is no room or space in my consciousness for such foolish statements. Why? Because I have come to learn, unfortunately, that as I sit here typing this I am in good health and might expect to live a long, good life…but that can change literally in an instant. We all know this to be true, but I think our own arrogance tells us “Pfft – you are YOU. You are destined to a long wonderful life!” So while we all know that we could walk outside and be flattened by a dump truck, or the next phone call could be a cancer diagnosis, we tend to shrug these thoughts off and resume our retirement planning.
Not so much for me anymore. In fact, I’ve been changed so much that I have to force myself to engage planning beyond perhaps a few months. While appreciating our present situation is a good thing, my new refusal to make any long term plans is probably not so good. That bill that is due next month? I’ll worry about it one the due date. Retirement? Are you kidding me? My summer vacation plans? Meh – I’ll figure it out when it’s summer. I’m not putting things off, I’m just figuring that I’ll worry about an issue when it’s time to worry about that issue.
Like every young person, I figured that the older people in my life were no smarter than I, they were simply older. I’m not “old” yet, but it does give me new appreciation for those elders around me. I can think of my 94 year old grandfather who is still as sharp as a tack: I don’t think I’ve ever sat down to ask his advice on things, but maybe I should. Logic would tell me that he has experienced more situations than I have by far, and thus, possesses more knowledge with a perspective I’ve not been given yet. If I’m on Life 2.0, he must be on Life 8.6. I wish I had his knowledge for my Life 2.0 – I bet his knowledge coupled with my Life 2.0 would make me a pretty vibrant and intelligent person. Alas, I do not have his knowledge yet…and won’t…until I get to Life 8.6.
I suppose I don’t really have a moral or even a point to this little column other than I hope that you might lean back in your easy chair and think about what Life Version you are on right now. If you recognize that your life is constantly altering and vacillating with its priorities, you might look at particular situations a bit different. Maybe you’ll find that your priorities might be different if you look around at other people (like me) that have experienced a different life than you and try to apply a different vantage point to your Life 3.X.
Here’s one thing that none of us will argue over: LIFE IS SHORT. It doesn’t matter if it’s 4 years long, 104 years long, the people in both situations were probably ready to carry on longer. And that perspective, as they neared death knowing it was to be soon, is the perspective that we all should have in every single chapter of our lives:
Life is short…and life is precious. Everything else is secondary.
Welcome to December. We close out one year and prepare for a new one. EXPLORE your life this month, open your eyes fully to what you see, and embrace every single part of it. After all it’s your life, and in the end, that’s all you have.