Life has one true certainty—death. Whether you’re gay, straight, religious, an atheist, man, woman, gender fluid, Democrat, Republican, or any other of the infinite forms of being you identify yourself as, we all end up the same way. I’m not going to focus on this fact or wax philosophical on the nature of death. Instead, I’m going to talk about life. More specifically, why most of us aren’t really living and how to change that.
I’ll preface this by letting you know I’ve been reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, by Hunter S. Thompson. If you’ve ever read that book or read up on Thompson, you know the man lived—and lived fucking hard. This doesn’t mean you should live like a wild, drug fueled maniac. But it does beg the question, compared to a guy like him, are you really living?
I’ve never done any drugs, have never smoked anything, and don’t really drink in excess. I work everyday, have a fairly consistent routine, and I feel like I’m enjoying life. But, and this is a Kim Kardashian fleshy-diaper sized but(t), I want more. I want more out of life and I want to enjoy things in the way I find enjoyable.
That means I have no desire to become a drug addled journalist reeking chaos and mischief across the globe, but I do crave more from this world. I want to eventually shift from working a normal 9-5 to being a full-time writer. I’d like to travel more (I only take big trips about once a year currently) and experience this crazy world on my terms. Fortunately, I’ve come a long way in making the life I want a reality. Now, I want to share with you some things to make your dream life a reality, too. First off, you must…
Ten years ago I was pushing shopping carts for minimum wage, part-time at a Wal-Mart. I didn’t have a car, any savings, and lived in what’s pretty much the projects. This wasn’t the bottom of the barrel in terms of where I’ve been in my life, but as far as success (in my opinion) the only way I could be further from it was if I was in jail. It took at least eight years of ball-busting work to finally reach a point where I was financially comfortable enough to start pursuing things I really wanted to pursue. I bring this up because I feel it’s easy to accept the crappy hand you’ve been dealt in life, then just fold instead of figuring out a way to win with it.
You must develop the patience to work hard for what you want. Things rarely come easy and if they do, it doesn’t take much to lose whatever you’ve gained: losing a job, a medical emergency leading to debt, a divorce, etc. Life has a funny way of knocking us down a peg whenever we feel like we’re making progress, but that doesn’t mean you give up or try to take shortcuts. You have to keep trying or you won’t get anywhere. Being patient and working hard is the cornerstone to success. So is…
To succeed in anything you must be consistent. You can’t half-ass your way through life and expect to go anywhere. For instance, maybe you’re a naturally talented writer. You enjoy writing and decide you’d like to make that your career. The problem is, you only write when you feel like it. This could be everyday for a few weeks, or once a month for six months. You aren’t consistent with your writing and therefore you have trouble gaining any footing in the writing world.
To become a successful writer, you must be consistent. I can’t stress this enough! Natural talent will only take you so far—especially in a world with so many other talented people. It’s not like the old days where a good writer stands out from the rest as long as they put out great work here and there. Nowadays great writers are often overshadowed by lesser writers because those lesser writers outwork the great writers. Essentially, the market is over saturated and only those who consistently put out work will benefit. This is the same with life.
A dream is just a dream until you take action. If you never take action, or sufficient enough action, your dream will become somebody else’s reality. It sucks, but that’s the truth. The good news is, you can change your lot in life. You can live the life you want. Just…
Don’t Fear Change
Change is scary. A lot of us like to get into nice, safe little bubbles where we follow a comfortable routine and avoid challenges and difficulties. This is fine when you’re 90-years-old, but it’s not cool when you have a good chunk of life ahead of you. Don’t get stuck in the same day-to-day rut. Break out and try new things.
These new things don’t have to be extreme like mountain climbing or running marathons. They can be simple like picking up new hobbies and traveling to cool local spots when you can. It doesn’t take a lot of money to live, it just takes the effort.
We don’t all have to take acid and speed through the desert in a convertible to “live.” We just have to be willing to enjoy the moments we have in this world. Yes, you’ll have to work and pay bills and do boring adult shit, but that doesn’t define who you are as a person.
Never be afraid to dream and don’t ever be afraid to chase those dreams. You might not always reach your goals, but you can enjoy the ride. When it comes down to it, it’s the small, barely noticed moments that mean the most in life: the morning kiss from your significant other before you head to work, watching in disappointment as your freshly washed dog rolls around in the mud, seeing your children grow and learn and become real people.
My best advice, strive for the best life you can. Don’t be afraid to dream. And most importantly, appreciate what you already have. Life is a blessing, enjoy it.
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