"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other peoples' thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
You have probably heard this or read this before; it is an excerpt from the commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford University in 2005.
I am always hammering away at this "living your own life" thing; that is because it fascinates me that so few people are able to do it. It saddens me to know that the vast majority of people in the world are deeply unhappy because of this inability.
Life is structured in a way that almost guarantees you will become trapped.
Most people don't know what they want to do at a young age; so many people don't even know who they are at a young age; so many people never figure out who they are.
But you gotta work. You gotta make money.
So you take a job thinking you will figure something out. That is if you bother to think at all.
A lot of people mindlessly accept that "this is just the way life is"; that you will work for forty or fifty years and if you are still alive at that point you will retire to a meager existence.
No matter how it happens, you fall into a "career" or a succession of jobs. Most likely in a situation or situations that you despise.
If you buy a house and have a family, the hole gets dug deeper.
Financial obligations are crushing, they are fearful - you don't want to lose your home so you keep the shoulder to the wheel and your head down.
As life, real life, passes you by.
Another excerpt from Jobs speech: "..................for the past 33 years I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been "no," for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."
That is an excellent approach to life, but for most people there are no options. They despise what they have to do every day but because of lack of education, because of lack of job opportunities, because of lack of guidance or good advice or courage or willpower or honesty on the part of employers and employment agencies.......whatever excuse or reality you can throw into the mix - they are trapped.
In the very next paragraph Jobs says: "Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool that I have ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything - all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
That to me is the key to all this. Getting to a point where you feel you have nothing to lose. Getting to a point where you are not hanging on to security or routine at the expense of your soul.
This ties into something I read about Buddhist philosophies that resonated with me.
Drunken monkeys. Buddha talked about drunken monkeys in your head, those voices that bounce around in your skull preventing you from thinking clearly, the loudest of which is fear.
Fear of making sweeping changes because you might lose all your money, you might lose your home, you might lose your security.
But what if you do? What if your entire life comes crashing down around your head but you find the serenity of being exactly who you are? That most likely is a sign that the life you were living was the wrong one; that that life was not your own.
You will get an apartment, you will find another job, you will survive.
I feel Carol trembling as she reads these words.
The point is not to be reckless. The point is not to be afraid to dream big, to take big chances, to take any chances.
Shake things up, baby. You only have one life and it passes at faster miles an hour.
You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.