The Tuesday before last, Laura and I were having coffee in our living room when her phone rang.
It was a friend of ours, and immediately, I could tell something was wrong.
She was calling to let us know that her sister, also our friend, had passed away suddenly the night before.
50 years old. Married, with a 15-year-old son.
Laura and I were stunned by the news. Once we got over the initial shock, I think we both felt immense sadness and sympathy for her family – for her sister, who was her best friend. For her parents, who are both still living, and of course, for her husband and son.
Losing a parent at any age is very hard, but for a child? As I write this, my heart breaks for him.
We only have one life.
My friend’s passing was a tragic reminder of life’s fragility and the fact that it can be gone in a moment.
We have one life. We get one shot.
Thankfully, my friend made the most of hers.
She fulfilled her dream of being a school teacher and was an elementary school vice-principal when she passed away. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of her students, but she impacted everyone who knew her.
There were at least 500 people at her memorial service, and many stood and spoke about the difference she made for them.
As I processed her passing this week, I thought about the decision I made to walk away from my 9-5 last year.
I knew that I was taking a big risk. I knew that there were no guarantees that it would work out.
But I couldn’t shake the idea that I only have one life.
I could spend 40 hours a week in an office until I’m 62 to chase a pension. Or I could spend every day with Laura right now and be more available for my kids. I could travel, visit my parents, and see my brother and his family more often.
And I could do work I love and try to build something cool.
What are you putting off?
What’s your dream? Is there something that you want to do with your life, but you feel stuck or afraid?
You might be perfectly happy in your career. Maybe you want to travel, develop a new skill, learn a new language, or mend a broken relationship.
Whatever it is, now is the time to start.
Taking the first step
Sometimes, we feel so stuck or afraid that we can’t take the first step. We feel paralyzed. I know, I’ve been there.
Here are a few ideas to help you move forward.
- Tell someone about your dream. When you begin to vocalize your dreams, your odds of success increase immediately. By making others aware of your plans, accountability happens. You’ve now made a verbal commitment that you will do something. Speaking out your dreams also spurs creativity. As you discuss your plans with people you trust, you’ll come up with even more ideas.
- Do something uncomfortable. Growth happens outside of your comfort zone. Remember this. It’s so easy to get distracted with activities that aren’t moving you toward your goal. The truth is, the most important thing you can do right now is probably what you fear most. Figure out what that thing is, and do it.
- Just get started. You can only read so many self-help books and listen to so many podcasts. At some point, you need to get started. If you want to travel, book a trip. If you want to write, start a blog and get writing. If you want to start a YouTube channel, use your iPhone and start recording. It doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it won’t be perfect at first. But you’ll be so glad you started.
Thank you for reading. I encourage you to take that first step this week, but more importantly, spend time with the people you love and take care of yourself.