The most motivational assumption you could ever make is to believe whole-heartedly that you won’t have the time to do everything you want in your lifetime. This is a safe assumption to make because it’s probably going to be true.
Your Dreams, Desires, and Expectations
Think of all the things you always wanted to experience but haven’t yet experienced.
Think about that book you wanted to write; the blog you wanted to post; the video you wanted to create, or the company you wanted to start.
Think about that video game that’s coming out next year that you’ve been dying to play.
Think about the house you always wanted to live in, the car you always wanted to drive, and the number you always wanted to see in your bank account.
Think of the friendships you yearn to make with quality people, as well as the good friendships you might already have that you wish to develop further in the coming years.
Think about the people who have helped you in the past when you didn’t deserve it–people whom you wish to thank by making something of yourself to prove that you were worth their sacrifice and generosity.
Think about that special reason in your life that motivates you to get out of bed in the morning and improve yourself just a little bit more each day. That special reason might be a romantic interest, your spouse, or your children; it could be a friend or family member who really needs you; it could be your job, craft, community, or country; it could be God–it could even be yourself.
The Cold Truth
All these things you desire and look forward to–do you really think you’ll live long enough to enjoy and experience them all?
If you’re like most people, you probably won’t. That’s the cold truth.
Visit the social media account of a dead friend, acquaintance, or random person. Read the comments and look through their photo albums. How much left did these people have to offer, but couldn’t? Their family, friends, and supporters can speculate all they want but the truth is, we’ll never know because it didn’t happen. Potential doesn’t count when it’s unfulfilled, like a check from a bank that no longer exists.
Young people tend to believe that many of the good things in life have a high probability of happening to them, but the bad stuff can’t. Yet in practice, it’s often the opposite: most dreams stay dreams, while worst-case scenarios slowly come true, like a frog slowly being boiled alive in a pot. Often times, the person that you said you’d never be like is exactly the person you end up becoming–and this happens to more people than you think.
Optimism is a good thing. Without it, we would be too nihilistic to even get out of bed in the morning, but it’s harmful if it causes you to be complacent.
You can’t defer action forever. It’s not smart to bet that you’ll still be able to do that “thing that really matters to you” 5 to 10 years from now instead of getting started immediately. Your time might unfortunately be cut short. Your health might fail you at the worst possible time.
What if you only had the time to accomplish 1 out of 5 things you really wanted to do in life, and that one thing could only be accomplished with your most maximum efforts and focus?
Your Sense of Urgency
Imagine for a moment what I’m saying is true; that it’s actually possible for you to take your last breath with your dreams only half-realized—or worse, unpursued.
You might feel a strong sensation within you as you meditate on that possibility. That feeling you’re experiencing is your sense of urgency. It’s that loud, emphatic “NO” screaming from within.
Your sense of urgency is the spirit within you that rebels against the idea of leaving this world without having shown it what you’re made of; without challenging yourself on a worthy adventure; without having contributed your unique share; without making your mark. Your sense of urgency is also that feeling of regret which laments over unseized opportunities and missed connections.
Become friends with this sense of urgency as soon as you can; it will be one of your most powerful allies in life.
“Rome is Burning.”
When you took your first breath at birth, life threw every desire/dream you were destined to have into a fire.
Whether you can smell the smoke or not, your dreams are already in the process of burning into a pile of ash–and it’s only a matter of time before they’re gone, forever.
It’s up to you to realize this, save your dreams, and share them with the world. But if you wait too long, it’ll be too late. No one wants to see your half-burnt dreams, or hear you talk about what your pile of ashes could have been.
All great men and women have a sense of urgency. They plow straight ahead, not because they’re less insecure than you, but because they realize that all their hang ups pale in comparison to the fact that their “Rome”–all the dreams they’ve built in their imaginary world–is burning into a useless pile of ash with each passing day, and it’s up to them to take it from their imagination and manifest it in the real world.
When You Act Like You’re Immortal
Everyone has a philosophy, even if they don’t realize it. You can tell what your own philosophy is by ignoring what you say to people and observing what you actually do.
When you avoid chasing your dreams because you’re scared of failing, being criticized, or looking foolish, you are acting like you’re immortal.
When you allow toxic people to remain in your life who make your stomach turn every time you think of them, you are acting like you are immortal.
When you spend 4-6 hours a day watching stuff on YouTube that you know is pointless to your primary mission, you are acting as if you are immortal.
When you try to escape your problems through drugs, alcohol, video games, porn, etc. instead of courageously confronting them and proactively solving them, you are acting like you’re immortal.
When you stay in a relationship with the wrong person who is unwilling to change or compromise, you are acting like you’re immortal.
When you try to impress or gain the favor of others who don’t care about you by violating your own internal compass, you are acting like you’re immortal.
Delusions of the Young
Never delude yourself into thinking that you have time to waste, or that pursuing your dream tomorrow will be the same as pursuing it today.
Life might seem like it has the potential to be long, but even if you live to 100 (as my grandfather almost did), not all your years will be of the same quality. 18 is not like 30. 30 is not like 50. 50 is not like 70. 90 is not like 60.
If you’re in your twenties, or even your early 30’s, it’s almost certain that a 90-year-old billionaire who is scheduled to die at 99 would eagerly trade all their wealth in a heartbeat just to be your age again.
Life is just that magical when your dreams are still early in the fire–there’s so much potential to salvage. But like I said, potential is useless if it goes unfulfilled. Unfortunately, most people realize that too late in life.
Can you get your act together before your dreams are no longer salvageable?
If you assume that you won’t have the time to do everything you want to do in life, you can develop a powerful sense of urgency that drives you forward. Fan the flames of your sense of urgency by reminding yourself that not only will you fail miserably at attempting to live forever–you might even live shorter than you expected.
Never forget that the road to hell is paved with good intentions–by people who wanted to do great things, but ultimately ended up just a fraction of who they could be, or worse–useless/harmful to themselves and others.
Let the fear of leaving this world with unquenched desires drive you forward. Don’t allow your dreams to burn unattended and ignored. When your dreams have burned for so long that they become a pile of ashes, the flame dies. And when the flame dies, you die, too, even if you’re still physically functioning.