Mental Note: It’s My Life!

By Kevin Kilgarriff

 

What do Bon JoviNo Doubt and some 80’s band called Talk Talk have in common?  Well, aside from the fact that they all used enough product in their hair to have their own hole in the ozone layer named after them, they also all recorded songs called “It’s My Life”.   Ok, No Doubt’s version was just a remake of the Talk Talk original, which can be seen below if you want a little throwback action.

I still say Gwen does it better.  I mean if your video has giraffes in it, the remake is automatically better.  But regardless, they all touched on the same important point – we are in charge of our own lives, and nobody else.

We’ve all encountered people that try to embed ideas into our heads of what we should be doing with our lives.  Maybe you’ve been told that you’re such an amazing athlete that you should try to play professionally.  Maybe you’re always cracking up your friends and they tell you that you should try stand-up comedy.  Or maybe your family always loved the way you sing walking around the house and would always say that you should be a sing in a band.

Or maybe the opposite has happened!  Maybe you’ve been told that you suck at singing and that you should never sing Springsteen’s Born To Run on Karaoke night after downing seven Lagers again.  (This actually happened to…you know…a friend of mine).

Sometimes these people are sincere and just trying to help you find a way through life.  Sometimes they’re blowing smoke up your ass or are out to fulfill some freaky need to stop people from being happy.  It’s not always easy to tell the difference though, which is why it’s up to YOU to make the ultimate decision in the end.

But more importantly, you need to decide what your passion is!  Do you know what you want to do with your entire life?  The truth is that not many people ever know exactly what they want to do early enough for society to tell us that we need to choose.  By the time we go to college and need to choose a major, we barely have enough life experience under our belt to know what we actually want to do for the next fifty years.

Colleges are filled with people who pick majors based on what they’ve seen on TV, because something sounds cool, or because they know it will get them a job that pays well.  But will the job they get make them happy?  They won’t know until they get there!  And by that point they’veinvested so much time and money that they don’t want to jump ship if they aren’t happy right away.  Then they get stuck in a rut and the next thing they know they’re stuck in a job they hate, and they have four mouths to feed at home, so they can’t just quit.  Plus they need to save money to send their kids to college so that they can pick a major that they know nothing about and end up in a job they hate.

Either that or they end up saying, “screw it!” and fall in with a failing fraternity, kill a horse, crash the homecoming parade and get kicked out of school.  This very real possibility is tragically outlined in the documentary “Animal House”.   Don’t even TRY to tell me that’s not a true story.

john-bluto-blutarsky1

“Seven years of college down the drain.”

This is a serious problem though!  Forbes recently ran an article stating that unhappy workers in the workforce today outnumber happy workers two to one.  For every person that is happy in their job, there’s another two people that are possibly not sure if they’re doing what they want with they’re life and may not be following their passion.

It makes sense then that companies find it so important to add perks for their employees.  If they don’t offer a fully stocked kitchen, flex time, a game room, or any of the dozens of other perks available at different companies, they run risk of their employees realizing that they’re unhappy and leaving to, God forbid, follow their passions!  Google has a friggin’ slide and a fire pole in its office!  A FIRE POLE!  If I hated my job enough to want to leave, I might suck it up if I got to go down a fire pole every day without the added danger of having to race to a fire every time I use it.

21-google-fire-pole

“Hmmm…maybe I’d better check with Wilkins down on three…again.”

But I digress (as I so often have to do).  It’s not easy to follow your passion.  If art is your passion, you may harbor dreams about marching into your boss’ office and telling him that you can’t take on that new account because you’re quitting so that you can open your own art gallery.  That’s much easier said than done of course.   And maybe you nearly opened that art gallery years ago, but stopped short because you weren’t sure about yourself or didn’t feel you’d make enough money.   So you put it off and took another path, putting that dream on the backburner of a very large stovetop.  It’s not uncommon.

I think that if you ask most people whether or not they followed their passion in life, the answer will probably be no.  Most people follow the path that will lead to a stable life for them and their family.  And that is 150% completely admirable.  Thinking of others, instead of yourself, when they’re relying on you is one of the most precious gifts one can give.  You’re giving the gift of yourself.  You’re giving up your dreams so that they can help other people achieve theirs.

I can’t stress enough that there is nothing wrong with “doing the responsible thing”.   But ultimately these people will spend their lives thinking about what might have been.  Maybe they people promise themselves that when the time is right, after the kids are off to college and their finances are set in place, then they’ll retire from that software company and teach piano for a living, or write that book, or start making tables.  But at what cost?  I’ve written about living in the Now.  The only moment we are guaranteed in this life is this moment that we’re living right now.  There is no certainty in the idea that someone will have the chance to retire and teach piano.  So why not take some action now?   Do something now to live for yourself!

Again, easier said than done, right?  And I’m not saying to march into your boss’ office and tell her you won’t be available to analyze that stack of reports on your desk because you’re quitting so that you can become a chair maker.  Don’t quit your day job!  Especially if you’ve got people relying on your paycheck.  There’s room for both in your life if you want there to be.  Some people think that jumping in without a life preserver will force them to learn to swim.  But I’m not about to recommend to someone that that’s a good idea…because it’s not.  Ever.  Ease your way into things on the side if you’re thinking about a career change.  Make sure things are stable enough and have a good business plan.  Set yourself up to succeed!

But most importantly, make time for it!  If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find time in your day to give yourself to it, even if it’s just a short amount of time.  So often people don’t follow their passion because they feel they don’t have the time.  And I have no doubt that many, many people really have next to no time left to add something else to their schedule.  But there will be a time when you reach that breaking point and tell yourself that you absolutely need to take that time to do something for yourself.   So examine your life and your days and find that time now!  Talk to the other people in your life and ask for help in making that time if necessary.  But get your hands on that time!  It belongs to you and you get to choose what to do with it.

You don’t have to continue to live a life that you never saw yourself living.  You can still follow your passion, and you should!  If I can poorly paraphrase Jon Bon Jovi –  It’s your life.  It’s now or never.  And you ain’t gonna’ live forever.  You just wanna’ live while you’re alive.  It’s…Your…Life.

And this is not only my life, but it’s also my blog, and I can do what I want with it.  So I’m going to let Jon Bon Jovi play me out. Because who wouldn’t want to have a big band play them out?  Here they are continuing their deal with the devil, which Richie Sambora apparently broke.  Thank you, Philly!  Goodnight!

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A Great Day to be Alive!

By Kevin Kilgarriff

 

Do you remember answering machines?  Big giant recording devices that connected to your land line and use a tape to store messages?  Yeah, well we still have one.   But to be fair, it’s a digital one.  We aren’t that behind.  It’s not one of those vintage machines from the 80’s.  But I have to admit, that would be pretty awesome!

80s Answering Machine

It sits in the basement and we’ll rarely remember to check it.  That’s mostly because the majority of the messages on it are from telemarketers whose scripts are so long that I’m not ever sure what they’re selling by the time I delete them.

But it’s not often though that my answering machine captures a gem of a message like it did with my uncle.  The outgoing message on the machine ends with me saying, “Thanks and have a great day!”  Because I’m a pretty nice guy!.  I’d be kind of a jerk if I end it with “Thanks and I hope your day sucks.”  My uncle, however, heard my message he took it a step further.  He left me a message saying,

“Every day’s a great day!  Some are just greater than the others.”

Awesome!  It’s such a simple way of looking at things and yet that one sentence could be a game changer for someone’s life.  Every day that you are alive on this earth is a great day.  Just think of the alternative…NOT being alive on this earth!  Remembering this one phrase can make it easy to make every day a great day.  When you wake up in the morning, all you need to do to is say to yourself, “Am I I alive?  Great!  Awesome day!”   BAM!  Right off the bat you’re starting the day ahead of the game.

And every day should be a great day!  99.9% of the things you’ll encounter in life are what you could categorize as “the small stuff” (Source: My system of randomly generated percentages).  They’re the things that when you look back on in a week, or a year, will make you say, “That wasn’t so bad.  Why was I so stressed over it?”  And yet every day we find ourselves treating these situations like the world will end if they don’t go our way.  Kind of like this guy!

In his defense, the weather report was probably going to be wrong anyway.

Life is going to throw a lot of curveballs our way, many of which we won’t even know they’re happening until it’s too late.  And often we’re going to want to throw up our hands and give up.  Or we’ll throw a fit, screaming and shouting that things aren’t going our way.   We sit and sulk about how life sucks and wonder how this could happen to me.  I see ‘FML’ in Facebook and Twitter posts about the most mundane “problems”.  “Modern Family is a rerun this week.  FML.”  Or “I’m out of Pop-Tarts.  FML”  Come on, people!  Most of our problems aren’t that bad!

Show me “I just accidentally cut off my pinkie toe.  FML” and I might cut you a break.  But even that isn’t going to stop you from living your life!  And yet here we are crying a river because our power went out for two hours.  Forget the fact that you ever had power in the first place.  There are plenty of people in the world that don’t!  Or the battery on my iPhone won’t stay charged.  Hello?!  You can afford an iPhone!   So often we forget how fortunate we are and take our lives for granted.  But a quick change in your point of view can make your days much more manageable.

A lot of moments that we’re faced with do legitimately suck.  There is no way around that.  But they’re usually not the worst problems you could be faced with and often we act as though they are.  Then the screaming and shouting and flipping of tables begin.  And after it’s over, and you’re cleaning the sauce off of the wall, sweeping up the broken glass and trying to talk your cat down off of the ceiling fan (Hint: just try turning it on) ask yourself one question – did that help the situation?

Did losing your temper get you what you wanted?  Did being rude to that cashier do anything except ruin his day?  Did yelling at your kids accomplish anything more than sending them to their room in tears when they didn’t really do anything to deserve it?  Often times, the answer is going to be ‘No’.  And often times, you’re going to feel worse than you did before it started.

Try to remember to stop and think for an instant before you lose it.  Count to ten if you have the time.  Or even to three!  Take a deep breath and think to yourself any or all of these thoughts:

  • Is this worth ruining my day over?
  • Is this worth ruining someone else’s day over?
  • If this doesn’t go my way, will it really have any impact on my overall life?
  • If I lose my temper, will it just make things worse?

I think that most times you’re going to find the answers to be: NO, NO, NO and an emphatic YES.

We can’t always control what happens to us.  We can only control what it means to us.  How many times have we heard this saying or some variation of it?  Life is unpredictable.  Our happiness in this world relies heavily on how we react to what life throws at us.  You never know what waits around the corner for you.   But one thing is for sure.  Your reaction to it is what will dictate whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing.

A smile can be one of the most disarming things that you own – second only to maybe a healthy outlook on life.  Believing that each and every day that you get to spend on this earth is a great day, is about the healthiest outlook you could have.  With all that this world has to offer, realizing that each moment you spend on this earth brings with it another chance to experience something amazing is a gift that you should hold onto with both hands.  Live your life with passion and don’t let others dictate your mood.  Make those precious moments your own.  Make every day great!

The Most Important Moment in Your Life

By Kevin Kilgarriff

Now is the most important moment in your entire life.  And who best to help illustrate that then the comedic genius, Mel Brooks, in this classic exchange from Spaceballs.

It’s pretty clear from this that Now is Now and it’s the only Now that we can physically experience in this life.  We’re in Now now.  We can’t go back to Then.  And we can never actually be at Soon either.  As soon as we get to Soon, or Then, both Soon and Then would automatically become Now!  It’s a fact of life.

We often hear about the importance of living in the “Now”.  Eckhart Tolle wrote an entire book about it with The Power of Now.  Tony Robbins loves to use the phrase “when would ‘now’ be a good time?”.  That’s at least two experts that agree that ‘Now’ is an important part of your life.  So it must be true right?

now-watch

Well the fact is that they’re right!  Now is the single most important moment in your life.  Because it’s the only one that actually exists!  Out of all the moments that will make up your life, right now is the only one you have any control over.  All of the moments in your past, they’re gone.  They don’t exist anymore.  They may have been amazingly memorable moments.  But the truth is that all they are right now is memory.  You can only think back to them and recall what it was like.  But you cannot live them again.  And you sure as hell can’t change them.  And believe me, we all have moments that we’d like to change. Like, for instance, these people…

Yeah…I think they might want some of those moments back.  But sorry peeps!  Those moments are gone.  That’s life!  You just can’t go back.

{Quick Note: You may or may not be surprised that if you search YouTube for “Stupid People Bikes” you get a LOT of results!}

And what about those moments that we look forward to in the future?  Well it’s great to have something to look forward to.  I for one am really looking forward to having leftover Beef Stroganoff for lunch (it was really good!).  But that moment doesn’t exist yet.  It hasn’t happened.  And it won’t for another four long hours.  Which sucks, because I’m hungry for it now.

But I digress, the only moment that actually exists and that you actually have any control over is ‘NOW’!  So when you hear someone tell you to “live in the now”, they couldn’t be more right.  Why would you want to spend your time living in moments that don’t exist, when you can put yourself fully into the moment that is your entire world right now?  You have control over this moment.  And to make it even more interesting, what you do in this moment is going to have an impact on those future moments that might be monopolizing your mind.  So it stands to reason that if you give your all to this very moment that is occurring right now, then those future moments will be more enjoyable for you, and for others.

For instance, I could sit hear hungry and dream about Beef Stroganoff (I’m telling you, it was really good!).  Or I could have a quick snack (maybe a Snickers.  I get a little wordy when I hungry) start concentrating on this moment.

I used to be a procrastinator.  I would put things off until the last moment.   I’d wait until last possible ‘Now’ that I had left.  But I would procrastinate with everything I did.  I would only do it with the things that I was unsure about it.  Isn’t that how it always is?  We do the things we’re more confident with first.

If I was in school and not comfortable with a subject, I’d put off studying it or on finishing the assignment.  If I was at work and not certain about the best way to finish a project, I’d wait until the last minute to work on it.  When I was younger and my Dad would ask me to rake the leaves, I’d put it off for as long as I could.  Ok, well maybe that’s because raking leaves sucks.  But the point is, if it wasn’t for the last minute, nothing would get done.  And do you know what happened while I was procrastinating?  I was still thinking about those things and worrying about how much it would suck to do them.  They were still controlling my ‘Now’ even though I wasn’t doing them.   We’ve all been there.  And we’ve all realized that when the time came that to actually performed the task that we were putting off, it never seemed as hard as once thought.  And inevitably we’d say, “why didn’t I do that sooner?”  In reality, when you procrastinate, and spend hours worry about it, you’re just wasting countless moments that could have been spent doing something more enjoyable.

It took me years to figure out…  Scratch that.  I figured out long ago that procrastination was a dumb idea.  But it took me years to make the decision to wise up and actually stop doing it.  Yes, I procrastinated when it came to stop procrastinating.  And what I found was that by using my ‘Now’ the best way I can, it made all of my future moments that much better.

‘Now’ is the most important moment in your life.  I’m going to keep repeating that because it’s so important.  Without ‘Now’, nothing would be possible.  ‘Now’ is the time that you need to take hold off and harness its power.  Make that phone call.  Start that morning run.  Write that email.  Do whatever it is that you’ve been putting off for days, weeks, months or years.  Now is the time to take action and start improving your life.

‘Now’ is the most important moment in your life.  There will be opportunities that will only exist right now.  A chance to say hi to that girl.  Or smile at that guy.  To ask for that promotion.   To tell that person you love them.  To call that old friend you had a falling out with.  To eat that Beef Stroganoff for breakfast instead of waiting for lunch.  Or to say Thank You.

The fact is that you are guaranteed no other moments except the one you’re living right now.  So make the best of it and don’t let it pass without grabbing hold of what it has to offer.

‘Now’ is the most important moment in your life.  Embrace it.  Make it your own.  And take full advantage of it.  Because once that moment passes, you will never see it again.  Live in the NOW!