I hear this sentiment all over the place: Live today as if it’s your last.
Or there's another saying: Life is too short to do something you don’t love.
I know, I get tired of hearing them, too. The real problem with these clichés, though, is that they are all true!
One of the best parts of my job is that I get to meet new people and hear new stories all the time. But lately I've noticed an ongoing theme: People are in jobs they don’t love and feel like they're stuck in them.
They’re checking off the days on their calendars until they can retire and treating their work life as if it were some sort of criminal sentence. Well, I think it’s time for people to put down the calendars and the bucket lists and make some changes now.
Related: 4 Keys to Coping With Career Change
It’s never too late to change -- or too soon.
I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a recent event and while I was waiting to take the stage, I had a conversation with the assistant in his 30s who was running the back of the room. I could relate to him and how important his job is from my experiences in the service industry: I've been that person in the back of the room.
I started asking him if he loved what he did. That's when he told me he had gone to college and had a degree in gaming development. I wondered why he was not well on his way to what seemed like it could be an awesome career. He said he had spent the last 10 years doing a job that he doesn’t enjoy because it pays well. Someday, he said, he would get back to doing what he loves to do.
After my keynote, I met a woman who was running a booth who told me she was really moved by my speech. She wished she had changed her career path sooner in her life but now that she is in her late 50s, she was too close to retirement age to change anything and it was best to just stick it out -- for another nine years! She laughed it off disappointedly. I could tell she was sad. She acted like she had run out of time and didn't have a choice to really do what she loved.
I disagreed with her and encouraged her to think differently.
These conversations really moved me and I wondered how many other people think this way.
I would never say that the security of retirement or making a livable wage is not important. It’s crazy to think otherwise. But why are these things so much more important to people than doing what they love? That's what doesn’t make sense to me.
How can Mr. Mid-30s stop himself from becoming Mr. Too Close to Retirement to Change? Or what about the woman who sees retirement as only a finish line? How can she change that finish line into a starting point for doing something she’s really passionate about?
Words get in the way.
Here’s a challenge for you: Make note of every time you say one of these phrases: "I wish I had," "I wish I could," or "One day I’d like to." You get the idea. The issue with using these phrases is that they let you create an excuse for not doing what you love right then and there.
One day? But which day? But talking wistfully about "one day" is like leaning on the possibility that the future will open up some magic portal that will let you have everything you want right then and there. The harsh reality is that there's no certainty in your future.
And life truly never seems to be long enough. Wouldn’t it be great if you could turn at least some of your wishes into realities? I don’t profess to have it all figured out. But I do know that if you want to reach a goal in your life -- whether it’s for a career or something else -- you have to start someday.
So, (and if you were right in front of me, I would pause dramatically), why not make your someday today?