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You (May) have Less Than Three Years to Live

If you’ve been paying attention to Hollywood and other random sources of information, we’ve only got about three more years to live. (The world is supposed to end in December 2012.) Well, well, well, let’s ponder that for a moment. Let’s say it’s true. Here’s the motivational dilemma. Do you throw caution to the wind, party like it’s 2011, and go out dancing? Or do you just continue on the path you are on, assuming you will live forever?

Why do I say this is the motivational dilemma? Because it is. It all boils down to this: Do we live in the moment for the moment or do we live for the future? The answer?

Well, you’re not gonna like it. The answer is both. Let’s face it, if we party animals just lived for the moment, we’d all be fat, broke, and quite possibly, drunk. No one really wants to pass up dessert and run 5 miles. (Well some people say they do, but I don’t trust them. And I’m sure as hell not friends with them.) But if you NEVER live in the moment—have dessert, blow a few bucks, take a day off from the gym—you don’t ever really enjoy life. The dilemma! What to do?

The secret is to determine what you really, really want (or what you really, really don’t want). For example, I love to eat. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I have a deep and abiding love affair with both chocolate and peanut butter. However, I hate being fat more than I love peanut butter. So, I have to balance. I will not give up peanut butter and chocolate (life would have no meaning), but I can only have so much. If I have too much, I have to cut back and do more exercise. If I really lived like there were no tomorrow, there would really be no tomorrow because I would explode.

So I say—assume there will be a tomorrow, but just in case, build in as much savoring of the moment as you can.

How do you decide how much savoring is too much? If your savoring is causing you pain, it’s too much. If you are in debt and can’t sleep, you have got to get out of the shopping moment and into the saving future. If your health is going because you haven’t missed a moment of TV in the past decade, it’s time to get off the couch.

A new year is the perfect time to really think about who you want to be and what you want out of life. This means getting out of the moment and into the future. Let’s say the world really is going to end in December 2012. Okay, I want to make sure I have seen as much of the world as I can. One of my goals for 2010 is to take a big trip. What do you want to do?

But, wait, what if 2012 is like 2000? (Remember Y2K?) There you are—you’ve gained 50 pounds, you’ve gone bankrupt, and well, hell, you’re drunk. You’re ready to go into the great beyond fat and happy. But nothing happens. Now what?

Here’s what I recommend—hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Think I’m nuts? Well, I paid my mortgage off in 2008. I rolled into 2009 debt free (as I will roll into 2010). Could I afford a bigger house? A newer car? More stuff? Sure! But do you know how awesome it is to be debt-free? To be obligated to no one? I’m no genius, I didn’t predict a recession. I hoped 2009 would be a great year, but I planned for it to be a crummy year. And the trip in 2010 won’t put me into debt, I’ll plan and save for it. See? Both—living in the moment AND for the future.

We can’t see what’s coming, but we really do know what to do. We just don’t do it. We know that the less debt we carry the more financially stable we are. But we want what we want when we want it. We want iPhones and flat screens and new cars and big houses, and we want them now. We know that if we don’t exercise and eat too much we’re going to get fat and be unhealthy. But we sit around and do nothing and eat more and more. We already know exactly what to do, we just don’t want to do it. And the real shocker—you have constructed the life you currently have.
I know—let the justifying begin! But it’s not my fault, I _______ (fill in the blank with your excuse—lost my job, have a thyroid problem, my spouse left me, have arthritis). I’m not saying it is your fault. I’m asking you to take a good hard look at what you’re doing with what’s happened to you. People always say, “Exercise is easy for you, Denise, you don’t understand what it’s like for me.” I don’t? Well, I just had a hip replacement. The day before the surgery I walked 5 miles. Five weeks after the surgery I’m walking 2 and am back in the gym lifting weights. Doing the hard stuff isn’t easy for anybody. Seen people with artificial limbs running marathons? What’s your excuse again?

Bad things happen to everyone. It is what you choose to do with them that determines the quality of your life. I want you to decide what you want your life to be from right now forward. What do you really want? What is causing you pain you want to end? Who do you want to be? It all starts with you deciding. Once you have decided, you have to start taking action in that direction. The chances are, for a while, you’re going to have to live more in the future than in the moment. You’re not going to like it. You’re going to want that cigarette right now, and you’re not going to think about the lung cancer of tomorrow. But let me tell you, you get lung cancer and that’s all you’re going to think about. And you know whose fault it’s going to be? No, not big tobacco. Yours. Our lives are what we make them. Let 2010 be the year you step up and take responsibility for yours. Not just for the moment, but forever.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in 2012. I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. But whatever it is, I’ll be ready for it. Will you?

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