Last week I emailed all of my clients and asked them to search their hearts and minds for the loftiest life goals they could come up with. I love big dreams because they inspire me, and they allow me to get to know someone on another level. I was prompted to ask about big goals because the recent passing of Steve Jobs, the co-founder and brilliant mind behind my iPhone and this very computer I’m typing on (among other amazing things), got me thinking a little deeper about my life. Jobs had recently retired from Apple, and passed away from Pancreatic cancer shortly thereafter.
Asking my clients and friends to share their goals helped me think about what I’d like to accomplish in my life as well. My first goal, and the topic of this Blog article is to read 52 books in 52 weeks. A book a week. My first one is Randy Pausch’s, “Last Lecture.” I read the book years ago, but couldn’t remember much of it other than the fact that it was a fast read and brought tears to my eyes during certain points.
I recently finished the book in less than 2 days, and just as I vaguely remembered- it had me bawling like a baby. Randy Pausch died of Pancreatic cancer in 2008, but gave a “Last Lecture” at Carnegie Mellon University almost a year before his passing to share his life story with others, and leave some important memories for his wife and 3 children. Randy shares countless stories of his childhood and offers insightful advice how to live happily even when you know you’re dying. Randy had a deadline on his life- his doctors gave him months to live and he woke up every day knowing that he didn’t have long, but that he would make the most of each day.
We’re all dying if you want to talk honestly about it. Every day is a day closer to death, yet we find ourselves worrying about the past and the future, what people think of us, dwelling on unfounded fears, wasting time… not really keeping ourselves in the moment. We rush through our days and ignore the very moments that we’d hold desperately to if we knew we only had a few months to live.
I have a photo of the actor James Dean on my bedroom wall and the caption reads, “Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.” I glance at it a few times a day and remind myself to be in the moment, and reflect. In that moment, am I doing the things I truly want to be doing? Am I living the life I would if I only had months to live? In that instant I try to channel the motivation, passion and intensity my life would have if I knew I was running out of time. I urge you to really look at your life and ask yourself if you’re living your dreams. Are you setting and attaining new goals? If you’re not on the path you’d like to be on, every day you wake up is a new opportunity to get pointed in the right direction. Don’t waste opportunities.
Two of many favorite quotes from The Last Lecture, are “Know what you don’t know, admit it, but don’t leave until you understand it.” And… “The brick walls are there for a reason. They’re not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something.” These quotes remind me to stay humble, continue learning, never give up and welcome challenges into my life always. It’s easy to quit when life gets hard, be lazy and give in to fear. It sometimes feels impossible to stay motivated and push past those brick walls, but every brick wall is an opportunity. Live it.