The following thought: ‘Don’t Die Before You’re Dead’ is a thought that has been popping up in my mind a lot lately. It is also a narrative that has consistently popped up in my mind quite frequently throughout my life.
This intuition has come and gone in momentary flashes at different phases of my life. When it does come, it has always been in a set or sequence of images of how I want my life to be. At the same time, it simultaneously provides me with an alternate set of images, of how my life may turn out if I were to continue on whichever path I was on at the time. For some reason, it’s recent re-occurrence has me wanting to write about it. So here we are!
I am not sure why these thoughts have come to me so often throughout my life, all I know is they have appeared like clockwork. Maybe I am just in touch with my mortality, or hypersensitive to what I want my best life to look like, I don’t know. What I do know, is that it has been a thought that has played a significant role in how things have turned out for me thus far.
These thoughts and their frequent visits, have always been a powerful reminder for me to think beyond the current state of affairs (business, career, and the life decisions) I have had to navigate over the years.
Some of the first reminders that I can remember coming to me was just after I landed my first job right out of college as a contractor for the Department of Defense. I remember working outside one summer, mapping out this huge military installation all by myself in the morning, and spending the rest of the afternoons slogging away behind a computer entering in all the data I had just gathered from my mapping sessions.
After a few months of doing this, I began to ask myself, ‘is this what my life is going to look like 10 years from now?’ I remember also thinking to myself ‘I haven’t even seen the world yet, and now I have to be a slave to this type of lifestyle forever?”
Listen to Your Greatness
Fortunately, I followed my instinct and devised a plan to leave the promise which that job held for me. The plan was to travel the world. And travel the world I did!
A few years later, I found myself once again grinding away on a job while simultaneously being reminded of what this career would promise if I stayed in it for the long haul.
I found myself sitting in meetings with engineers, environmental planners, and lead city officials, and again I started to think to myself, how boring those meetings were. I also remember having the very visceral thought of how I would just about die, if I had to sit through one more (useless, monthly) situational leadership meeting that year.
It became obvious to me, that I wasn’t meant to be an engineer, a cartographer, or an analyst. I wasn’t meant to be cooped up in a cubicle all day doing someone else’s uninspired work. I wasn’t mean to be someone else’s tool.
So, I let those mental reminders nudge me into looking elsewhere once again, beyond the horizon of what I currently knew, out in the distance for a more suitable vocation, for a living that was aligned with my true interests.
I know now that I was fortunate to have listened to those reservations I had, and to make the (many) career shifts I made. I also know that I could have decided to not listen to my gut, to ignore my instinct to keep seeking. I could have opted to do what ‘I was supposed to do’.
Be Fearless For What You Want
And there’s not a doubt in my mind, that I could have let the expectations of my family, friends, and society, keep me from doing what I wanted to do, because staying in those fields, was ‘the right thing to do’.
But I did not listen to the outside noise, I moved forward, and as a result my life improved. If I had stayed, I may have died. No, not physically, but spiritually and emotionally. I would have died, because I would have given up on what my heart truly wanted.
I still don’t really know 100% all that my heart truly wants. I mean who does? That’s what life is all about anyway, right? It’s a discovery process, or at least it should be. But I do know that what I am doing now is 100x more aligned with what I do want, than what I was doing back then.
As a result, I am 100x happier, and I believe that counts for something. But more importantly, I am still alive! I am still alive mentally, spiritually, emotionally! My life is still hopeful, the future is still exciting to ponder. Now, I could be wrong, but from my observations, not everyone can say that…. and that’s what I want to change.
Don’t Die Before You’re Dead
I believe those reminders I occasionally received were nothing more than my instincts trying to communicate to me, that if I gave up on up on my dreams, that I would die before I was dead.
And so that’s the message I want to relay to you in this post. Wherever you are at in your life, trust your instinct, and let your true interests guide you in your decision making. Do like Steve Job’s once said, and “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Perhaps you don’t get reminded on occasion by your subconscious mind as I do. If this is the case, maybe you can try the following exercise out on occasion. It will help you gain some clarity.
One of my mentors suggested regularly rewriting how you will have wished you had lived on the last day of your life in your journal. My mentor claimed that by doing this, you heighten your focus on doing what counts in life. An additional benefit, is that it strengthens you brain and will power so that you can take action and complete those few things that are so important to your life.
Give it a try, what do you have to lose?
Your greatest life is going to be found in doing what your heart pulls you towards, what it calls you to do. I believe your best work, your grand ideas, and your best life will flourish when you are doing exactly what you want to do. When you are on the path towards becoming exactly who you want to become. So please my friend, don’t ignore what YOU desire, and please don’t die before you’re dead.