If you had just one year left to live, would you spend this weekend slumped on the sofa watching TV? Would you order pizza, fries, soda and ice-cream to accompany your TV binge? Would you simultaneously spend two hours browsing the banalities on Facebook? Would you miss Sunday’s sunrise to stay in bed ‘til 9am? And would you fret about the conversation you had two years ago with a friend you no longer speak to?
Hopefully, you haven’t been served such a death sentence, which begs the question, why wait until disaster comes knocking before changing your life for the better? Why wait for the life-changing illness to pursue previously unconsidered adventures? Why wait for a loved one to pass away before you run a marathon to raise money? And why defer living optimally for another day in the future; a day which never arrives?
Each day most of us play life Roulette; we eat, drink, smoke things we’re not supposed to and wonder whether we’ll get away with it. Will the ball roll our way today, or miss us this time leaving us with the misguided notion that there’s nothing in our lives we need to change. We don’t need to monitor what we put in our mouths; right now we’re healthy enough. And when the ball does stop on our number, we’ll surely attribute our illness to ‘one of those things’ or a by-product of getting old. But we’ve been gambling with our lives for decades.
We humans mostly thrive on comfort, status-quo and routine. We avoid change, discomfort and effort. Most of us only ever change when we’re forced to, or when something becomes so agonising, we have no choice but to make a life alteration. But a bit of discomfort, or a bit of pain is not enough for us to alter our lives. A twinge of morning back-ache is not enough to do Pilates every day; we can live with a few aches. A wibble of excess weight around our tummy is not enough to abstain from our daily caramel latte and pain au chocolate; it won’t kill us, will it?
But what we do today affects our tomorrow. A small change today will bring about an improvement in our situation tomorrow. Equally, time wasted today will not bring us any closer to our ultimate life goal. The time to act is NOW (after you’ve read this blog and subscribed to our weekly inspirational podcast, of course).
Our lives are galloping away and we’re mostly totally oblivious to its diminishment. So oblivious are we, that we take for granted our very being – our legs, our eyes; our creativity; our true capabilities, until it’s too late.
Do you have a bucket-list? I don’t. But I’d probably write one if I was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I can defer all the incredible adventures I’d love to pursue in life until I’ve only got a few months left to achieve them. Crazy thought-process hey?
I’m almost 40. And if I live to the UK average age of 81, I have 41 years left to live life to the full. Sounds plenty, but if I have a holiday every year between now and then that’s only 41 trips away. 41! And I probably won’t be flying long-haul in my late 70s, so let’s reduce the total trips away to 35. Neither will I holiday every year, so I could be left with just 25 new adventures left before GAME OVER! Blimey. Best get that bucket list written pronto before the stress of this depressing reality kills me.
As 2016 packs up his suitcase and gets ready to depart, consider what you haven’t done this year. The places you didn’t visit. The hobbies you didn’t try. The book you didn’t begin. The picture you didn’t paint. The language you didn’t learn. The business you didn’t launch. And ask yourself, why the hell not? What’s the excuse for not pursuing your New Year’s goal? If your answer includes: I lost my arms, my legs, my eye-sight, my hearing AND my mind, you’re excused. But if your honest answer is ‘I couldn’t be arsed’ consider yourself slapped in the face with a pork chop!
Whoooosh! Did you see that? That’s your life getting away. Catch it before it’s gone. And it will go. And as you while away your final weary days, I doubt your head will be full of, ‘Damn it, if only I’d spent more time watching TV.’
‘You’re off to great places, today is your day. Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!’
Ps. Need some inspiration for living life optimally? Have a listen to the weekly Off the Ropes podcast to hear how the world’s most inspiring, pioneering and adventurous souls got their lives ‘off the ropes!’ Every Friday at 8pm BST via the website, Stitcher or iTunes.