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You Only Live Once…Why Not Do What You Want?

Are you doing what you want with your life?

I know it’s a big question. And I know it’s a question that you can break down into categories.

However, for just these next few moments, don’t think about the parts of your life that you can answer yes about. And, don’t consider that you’re sort of doing what you want with your life or that you’re close. For the next few moments just answer the question – honestly: Are you doing what you want with your life? – yes or no?

For me, personally, the answer is no. May sound odd since I have pretty rich life. But I’m not doing exactly what I want with my life. Sure, I’m successfully self-employed with a business that continue to grow each year – even in this crazy economy. Yep, I’ve been blessed with four phenomenal children and the most lovely of women a man could ever dream of as my wife. What else could I want?

Yet there are areas of my life where I don’t feel settled; where I still don’t feel that I’m living to my potential. There’s even areas where I feel a bit off from my life’s purpose as though I’m wandering. And neither my wife nor I are settled on where we live. We’re grateful for our house and large yard, but we don’t feel like where we are is really ‘home’ yet.

Then there’s my business. If I keep doing what I’m doing, we’ll live comfortably for years to come. Building websites, coaching clients for marketing, business and social media strategies and helping build my client’s following as been good to us. No complaints there (and thank you, by the way).

However, it’s clear to me that I’m not fully tapping my potential. There’s so much more that I want to do; so much more I can do with my business. But it means changing things. It means getting out of my comfort zone and shaking things up a bit. It means trying something new and taking risks. Something that was much easier to do when I didn’t have a family to support.

Now by risk, I’m not talking about closing down or destroying my business so I can go after some new endeavor. That’s not risk – that’s stupidity. The risk I’m talking about isn’t about putting my life or my family in danger. Rather, I’m talking about the risk that puts my comfort level in danger. It’s my comforts that keeps me where I am. And while being comfortable isn’t bad or wrong, it can keep me back from growing my business and improving my life.

William James, the pragmatic American philosopher once wrote, “Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.”

Yet, to find our second wind, we have to get out  of our comfort zone. To get outside our comfort zone we have to be willing to push ourselves past our fear, past our disbelief, past our self-limiting thoughts and continue striding toward our dreams. If you can walk a mile, you can strive to run a mile. If you can run a mile, you can push yourself to run two. In other words, with a little learning, a little striving and a bit of hard work, you can go further, faster than you ever dreamed possible.

And while it may seem fitting at this point to share with you the areas if my life where I feel I can be more, I’d rather not at this point. This article really isn’t about me, my process or my own dreams. No! This article is about you. It’s a call from my heart to yours to ask you to take a risk; take a risk toward what you really want to be doing. And work at it. Give it your attention, your efforts. Stride to your dreams…and watch for your second wind.

You’ve made it to the bottom of this article. So what will you do now? Will you just go about your day believing those limiting thoughts about what you can’t do; what you can’t have? Or are you going to take a risk in the direction of your dreams?

I know what I choose.

Let’s talk about it.

(note: image from Two Steps Behind on Flickr, some rights reserved)

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Comments

  1. Challenges for me involve consistency – doing what I call “holding the note” not just for the day, or heroically, the week! I’m great for short sprints, it’s keeping my focus for the marathon. Made a very large 6 mo. goal two weeks ago, first in a long while. Took me til yesterday to realize I was floundering and rudderless because I did not have a clear sense of my next goal! Took a couple of hours on Sunday to reevaluate my future and priorities now that the picture had changed. BUT- noticed my confidence level had not shifted so terribly much, in spite of accomplishment. How do you get ‘up for the game?’

  2. Great article. It is something I have been thinking about al ot lately. As we get older we start seeing how fast time is flying past us. We don’t want to be at the end of our life with the ” wish I would of’s!”

  3. Brian Wells says:

    Good article! I have the same view on my life. I have a decent life materialistic wise. I graduated from college one year ago. I do ok with two part time jobs working 60 hours a week. I even bought a house. I also am about to become engaged to my girlfriend. But I feel very lost. There is something still missing. I lose my self confidence because of this feeling. I think it might have to do with the economy as I am not doing things that have nothing to do with my degree. I am still looking for another job too. But you brought up some good points about risk vs reward. Finding success is not easy. But anything that is worth doing is going to be hard. Because most likely there is someone else who wants the same thing!

  4. Funny you should say that…. My inspiration for the month has been Naomi’s recent post about working harder than a factor worker–that few business problems won’t yield to the concerted application of 1

  5. oops–hit “enter” too soon–168 hours of effort. Give a problem a full work month, and see what happens. Likely you’ll get a very different outcome than what you get with a dibble here and a dabble there.

    I’ve set an August 21 deadline–get a book finished and into the market. No point in worrying until then; simply apply effort and see what happens.

    Good luck in your plans!

  6. Beth,
    Sometimes you gotta just plug away and get stuff done. And change, even when we want to make it, requires doing something new – which can take effort. You have a plan, now just do it.

    Karen,
    Right on. I agree with you totally. The outcomes from focus – especially with our time – are greater than we probably think. If it works, we’re moving forward. If it doesn’t then we know and can move on to something that will.

    Tammy,
    Yeah, we only get one chance at it. So why not do what you love?

    Brian,
    First, congrats on the pending engagement (I won’t tell her).

    Second, you don’t find success – you create it. Success take effort. It takes planning, time and hard-work. There’s really no such thing as success without effort. Work is necessary. And you have to be working to make a living, right? So why not work at something you love? Find what that is and then create a business around it. It’s possible. I’ve done it. Others do it every day. I promise you working hard on something you love will provide you with so much more positive feeling than making money at something you don’t really want to be doing.

  7. For me, there are many more things I’d like to do with my life, but you know, as a married man I am not as free as many other young fellows out there. In addition, my current work hardly gives me time to breath, let alone doing something new that require much time and efforts.

    So for the mean time, I’ll stick with what I have now.

  8. Fair enough, if you have built up a successful business you deserve to take things to the second level and enjoy what you do. Obviously with the caveat that you can still feed your family!

  9. Rafall,
    There’s no wrong choice. Just know that you have a one. Staying where you are is merely a choice. Nothing wrong with making that choice so long as you’re aware that it’s a choice.

    Jorgen,
    Right on. There’s always that balance.

  10. Charrise says:

    Dawud, thanks for articulating so clearly the distinction between feeling grateful for what you’ve created, and the clear desire to continue creating. This is exactly the space in which I work as a coach – and precisely what I’m creating for myself in my own coaching practice. The most important piece is to gain clarity about what you want, and to discover what you’ll have to give up to get it. Sometimes we really don’t want what we think we want, once we get clear on what it will cost us. And…to keep answering the question, since the answers change as life unfolds.

  11. There is a danger though, that everyone always feels – that the grass is greener on the other side. This applies to decisions that you make where you think a choice is for the better, only to realise that where you were at the beginning is better. Just as a counter to the idea that every strive you make is going to improve your life.

  12. Thule,
    Sure, I can agree with that. Yet I’m not saying change just for the sake of change. Rather, I’m suggesting that if you’re not fulfilled with what you’re doing for a living, you can do something else. So often people feel stuck. But it’s just not the case.

  13. I’m the sort of person that struggles to leave my own comfort zone, but I often find myself trying to push those boundaries for what I know will be the greater good at the end. Thanks for these words for continued encouragement.

  14. You know it is my favourite song of The Strokes – You Only Live Once

    It is all about this one line. Living your life by it. Making every decision based on it.

    It is hard but I guess it is the only way to live for real.

    Thanks for this inspirational post and if you don’t know the Strokes song listen into it you will love it!

    ~ Alex

  15. Sam @ Webcam Jobs says:

    So many people go through life as if it’s toil. They do the lease amount possible to just “get by.” I try not to be that kind of person.

    But am I doing what I really want? I would say ‘no.’ Then again, my standards are quite high, maybe it’s good to never be completely satisisfied. This way you’re always pushed to real your next level, whatever that might be.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  16. Leaving your comfort zone is hard, but not doing so will be something you can easily regret. For years i always did the same ‘safe’ things, then after a near death experience, i changed and i am so so happy for doing so! Be brave and try it!

  17. marjan kujundziski says:

    You can’t do what you want because of the social boundaries. But if there is something you’ve wanted to do since you where child, you should try it.

  18. This is a great post that hit home. My mom once told me to live every single day as if it’s my last. Also, she would always remember me about the exact date and how it would never come back. For example, she’ll tell me that June 24, 2010 will never come back so make sure to do what I really want. At the start of my day, I like looking at myself in the mirror asking myself if I’m living up to my dreams. If not, I take a quick break and start fresh.

  19. Great article. It is something I have been thinking about al ot lately. As we get older we start seeing how fast time is flying past us. We don’t want to be at the end of our life with the ” wish I would of’s!”

  20. So many people go through life as if it’s toil. They do the lease amount possible to just “get by.” I try not to be that kind of person.

    But am I doing what I really want? I would say ‘no.’ Then again, my standards are quite high, maybe it’s good to never be completely satisisfied. This way you’re always pushed to real your next level, whatever that might be.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  21. Body Kits says:

    I can’t do what I want because of we still need think tomorrow, tomorrow and tomorrow. You Only Live Once but Live is Long.

    Good article!!!

  22. مسلسلات رمضان 2010 says:

    Good piece Dawud, I like the way you knocked down the different reasons to blog for businesses and then told us what you reckon. Nice use of loop story telling!!

  23. aperture says:

    In our lives, we are facing the unpredictable impediments that we sometimes can’t understand the meaning of it. In the middle of the cross road, we need to choose the right path, of what we want to do and what we want to be in the future. Right and just decisions are at stake. As the famous adage says, gather ye rose buds while ye may. Seize the day while you can.

    A very complicated article yet interesting thoughts.

  24. ethan johson says:

    Many people go through life as if it’s toil. They do the lease amount possible to just “get by.” I try not to be that kind of person.

    But am I doing what I really want? I would say ‘no.’ Then again, my standards are quite high, maybe it’s good to never be completely satisfied. This way you’re always pushed to real your next level,

    Thanks for the inspiration!

  25. Good piece Dawud, I like the way you knocked down the different reasons to blog for businesses and then told us what you reckon. Nice use of loop story telling!!

  26. Sometimes my dreams remain dreams. Everybody understands that we must do something – but in the end nothing changes.

  27. Hi,

    Yes, actually recently I have started my business that what I am looking to start for a long time. Now I have started. I know I have to struggle at the beginning. But I know I will be a successful businessman one day. I know I am very busy now days and don’t have enough time to manage my family. My wife helps me always.

  28. Money makes the world go round. you can do what you love, but you still need to pay the bills. maybe you want to write or paint for a living, nice and all, but the landlord doesn’t wait.

  29. This post of yours directly touched my heart. I am 27 right now and till now i don’t know whats my aim in life. Just wasting my time….but your post is really inspiring. It has developed a confident inside my heart not to give up and now i am going to do something better with my life.

  30. Very inspiring article!We can’t deny the fact that sometimes the things that we really wanted to do just fall by the wayside.However, life doesn’t simply stop there.We can still do what we want to do.We only need to find ways and do something to turn our dreams into reality.As what an old adage says, “We only live once, but if we work it right, once is enough.”

  31. webcam modelling says:

    A truly inspiring article as I rarely find on the interwebs. It’s inspiring me to quit my job and pursue my dream of owning my own business. Thank you!

  32. Fair enough, if you have built up a successful business you deserve to take things to the second level and enjoy what you do.

  33. Great article. It is something I have been thinking about al ot lately. As we get older we start seeing how fast time is flying past us. We don’t want to be at the end of our life with the ” wish I would of’s!”

  34. You can’t do what you want because of the social boundaries. But if there is something you’ve wanted to do since you where child, you should try it.

  35. Aaron Rodgers Jersey says:

    Excellent information within your post, I saw a report on television final week about this identical stuff and since I am acquiring married in 4 weeks as well as the timing couldn???¨º?¨¨t have been greater! Thanks for the post!

  36. This article is food for thought! Soon I will be 40 and i don’t have the feeling my job and live is all that I want from life. Thanks for the article!

  37. I agree with the:
    But if there is something you’ve wanted to do since you where child, you should try it.
    Do what you want and be happy ;)

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