We all strive to live a good life. But surprisingly few of us, when asked, would say we’re living the life we really want right now. Why so?
This is the story of how, with one, simple truth, I started living the life I craved and now cherish every moment, on my own terms.
(hint: it’s not rocket science. Start doing the things you love, TODAY).
This post is going to be short. I’m busy. I’ve got to head down to the beach with my children for a little fun in the sun and have friends to meet this afternoon who have procured some of the Champagne region’s finest wines to sample…
Before you dismiss this as a vanity post, stick with me, there’s a point to this story.
Not so long ago, I, like millions of others, hit the streets hard each morning, working my daily grind (in my case running my own digital agency business in London), putting in regular 15/16 hour days toiling for a better tomorrow.
I thought I had it sussed. Put the hours in and never stop for breath. Forget about life until you “hit the big time”… if you miss a few parties along the way, no big deal, right? Kids birthday parties? Sorry, too busy. Time off with the family? Maybe next year. Dinner with my wife? Sorry, taking the guys out from work for a couple of beers in the company local…
I don’t know what you think, but when I write that out now, it seems like madness.
I maintained that situation for 13 years. And during all of that time, I lived my life for tomorrow, never for today.
Planning, plotting, hoping and dreaming for a life where one day I could kick back a little, enjoy my kids before they were too old, spend quality time with my wife, and perhaps, if we were really lucky and all our stars aligned, catch ourselves a little sun along the way. For 13 years I rarely did any of those things.
Sure, I had some moderate success. I had a nice house in Chelsea, a big house in the country, fancy cars and nice watches. But you know what? I never once felt like I was where I wanted to be. Every single moment of those 13 years I lived for tomorrow.
And then I woke up. Or, to be more accurate, I was woken up…!
During the Lehman’s crash of 2008/09, like many others, my business took a major hammering. We lost a massive contract that I’d invested heavily in securing and all our remaining clients froze their spending. Over night we went from a growing business to a car crash in slow motion.
Through some horrendous battles, I wrestled what I could of the business back into health, and we stumbled on. For four more years the company made enough to get by and I spent my days and nights trying to find a way to recapture our former glory. But after 4 long years, and many more sleepless nights, I finally pulled the plug on the company and called time on the journey.
Why am I telling you this? And how does it relate to living life to the fullest? My point is this…
The closure of my business was brutal for my family and I. 13 years down the line with nothing to show for it. Great. Super. 13 years well spent, right?
Well, actually, yes.
Admittedly, 13 years is a long time to learn a lesson – and if you’re lucky enough, you’ll learn it quicker than I did – but I’m still young (relatively speaking… I haven’t celebrated the big “FOUR O” anyway!), my kids are still in single digits (just!), and my wife and I are still in love. We made it through intact. And now, thanks to the lessons I learned, I have a whole new outlook on life.
What I realised, when the dust settled, was this:
You have exactly one life in which to do everything you’ll ever do. Act accordingly.
That quote, from the young visionary Colin Wright, sums things up far better than I could.
Start living your life NOW, TODAY. This very moment. Time really is of the essence.
Look around… Do you like what you see? If you were to die in your sleep tonight, would you be happy with your lot? Are you fullfilling your true potential and enjoying life on your own terms?
No? Then change it. Right now. You will never get this time back. Stop being scared. Start living your life, on your terms.
What is it you hold most precious? Spending time with your family? Your friends? A chance to read, paint, learn, trek, swim or travel? Helping others and leaving a positive impact on your surroundings? Whatever it is, start doing more of it, TODAY.
Apple’s now deceased visionary leader Steve Jobs followed a similiar philosophy:
– Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder
Live your life on your terms and don’t fall into the trap of “TOMORROW”. Make changes to improve your day, today, and tomorrow will take care of itself.
But what about money? You can’t just do what you want with your life because you’ve got to pay the bills, right? Be honest with yourself. Are you earning money to pay the bills, to live the life that enables you to earn the money to pay the bills? Are you trapped in an endless cycle of earnings and outgoings? Where is it getting you? Are you living your life on your terms? Don’t get me wrong, if things are working out for you, more power to you! But if the answer is no, you aren’t living life on your terms, what’s the worse that could happen if you change things? Embrace life, embrace change, embrace the unknown. Don’t be scared. Seize the moment and take control of your life, TODAY.
Oh, and one last thing before I go… You may have noticed that I said the closure of my business, without financial reward, was 13 years well spent… Live a life without regrets. Find the positive in everything. Learn from the lows, as well as the highs. The lessons I learned during those years, and most especially when it ended, were truly invaluable. Your experiences, good and bad, help to define you, help you to see a better way, and will always, no matter what, help you to see what truly matters in your life.
Define it, celebrate it and practice it, DAILY.
Success should not be about a sense of arrival, but defined by the experiences u accumulate, the detours u embrace and the passions u pursue
— Rick Palmer (@mrRICKROCK) July 26, 2013
Right, I’m off to the beach!… But just before I go, allow me to leave you with this short (2.5 minutes) inspirational story about Charity Water’s founder, Scott Harrison.
Find your calling and get on with it.
OK, gotta go… the beach becons!
Is this your first time here? If so, thanks for stopping by! If you’re looking for my Tumblr blog, you can find that here. I’m a Digital Strategist, entrepreneur and Consultant at Advertising M&A, the specialist Mergers and Acquisitions consultancy exclusively for the advertising, digital, media and marketing services sectors. I am also the Founder and Editor-in-chief at advertising industry blog Inside MarComs, featuring Q&As with brilliant people in advertising and marketing, as well as Founder and Principal of Rick Palmer Consulting, offering my personal expertise to private clients. You can find out more about me by reading my biog or connecting with me on LinkedIn.