“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit.” – Norman Mailer
In the few years after college when I was at the height of my independence I used to have a saying, “Are you on the bus or are you off the bus?” Meaning, this is what I’m doing with my life are you on board or not?
I haven’t used that saying in quite a while now. Life is full of compromises as we get older and take on commitments and responsibilities, but the truth is:You are still the driver of your bus.You are responsible for the quality of the ride and for where you end up. You and your daily behaviors are the biggest variable factor in how your life turns out.
I did not grow up with the concept of goals but I have come to see how just hopping in the bus and driving aimlessly for years with no idea of where you want to be other than “happy” can be a problem. Sort of like the bus driver basing where they are going on the quality of the music on the radio. It’s really not enough.
If you want to have a life that perfectly suits you, you need three things when driving your bus:
Introspection – Take the time to know yourself well enough to know what you want and don’t want in your life as well as what you are good at and what you enjoy doing. This can be harder than it sounds because many things are fun for a while but don’t truly fit who you are for the long run. We often romanticize lifestyles that don’t actually fit who we are. Make every effort to look at who you really are. What do you do in your spare time? What did you like to do as a child? How do you like to work? Inside, outside, at night? Try not to manipulate your natural inclinations just notice them. Don’t be romantic, be honest. These are some of your best clues.
Vision – Skip to the end of your life, if this were your last day on earth what would you want to look back and see in your life? A body of creative work? Good relationships? Lots of adventures and travel? List these things out and get as specific with them as you can. This is your map. This is how you want to drive your bus. These are the frequent stops you want to make. This is where your goals come from. If you don’t build those things into your life on a daily basis there is a good chance that your life will not turn out to be what you had hoped.
If I want to look back at the end of my life and know that I expressed myself through my writing then every day when I get up and start that bus I need to have that destination in mind. There is no way around this.
Fuel – The first step in having the fuel for your journey is taking care of yourself. Often this is how we self-sabotage. Take a good look at your habits and your routines. Where are you undermining yourself and making your best life an out of reach dream? This is where you have to start. What supports you? Again, no excuses. Here is a key concept though: You don’t have to wait until you know everything there is to know about whatever it is to begin. Just start. Educate yourself, find help if you need it, set up goals and strategies so you can monitor your progress, but don’t believe that you can’t begin this very minute. It is imperative that you do.
Comments – Do you feel like you are driving your bus? Are you making the stops you need to make to have the life you want or do you feel like you are on autopilot? How will you make sure to fit in those things that deep down mean the most to you?
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