Steve Jobs died yesterday.
I’m not going to write about his life or achievements. I’m not a person who can write an appropriate tribute. People more familiar with him have written words more eloquent than I could muster. Instead, I’m writing about something he said that affected me.
I’ve owned Apple products. My first computer was a Mac, and my first smartphone was an iPhone. The company and products Steve Jobs built have had an impact on my life.
This got me thinking. Reflecting.
What Are You Doing Right Now?
In his speech to Stanford in 2005, Steve Jobs talks about death. A somewhat morbid topic for a commencement address, but relevant. The quote that resonates with me was “Since then, for the past 33 years, I’ve looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day in my life would I want to do what I’m about to do today?’”.
Just let that sink in for a minute.
He goes on to say “And whenever the answer is ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Do you need to change something? I certainly do.
This topic has kept coming up for me, over and over again. Every time it stings a bit, and Jobs’ way of saying it is so grounded it stung hard. Let me share with you what I’ve learned on the topic.
How Do You Change?
For most of us, we can’t just quit whatever it is we’re doing today and start doing the thing we love or get the most satisfaction out of tomorrow.
We can, however, take steps towards that goal.
The first is to determine what’s important to you. It could be family, it could be religion, it could be your work, or anything else. Sometimes we all lose sight of what is important to us. Just take a while to sort it out. It may take a few minutes or a few days, either is OK.
Also, even if your job is just something that pays the bills I think you should consider it. You spend most of your week at your job, you should be doing something that you love.
Next, figure out what you can do tomorrow. If you want to change careers or jobs, your first step is research. Don’t quit before you have fairly concrete plans. If possible, line up your new training/job before you quit. If you need to change locations or move closer to family, look for real estate or rentals. Take a weekend trip and see if the place is what you think it is. If you’re going to need seed money, start aggressively saving or looking for investors.
In any case, it’s likely that you can do some research or planning right away. Don’t wait any longer.
Lay Out a Plan
You’re not going to know every detail. Life doesn’t work that way. Planning will give you a better idea of the potential options and pitfalls. You won’t be able to write a step by step guide. You should, however, be able to determine the first step. Put a date on it.
Take a few evenings and think through the pitfalls you might encounter and the worst outcomes you can imagine. Try to think of how you can avoid those pitfalls and outcomes. You won’t think of them all, that’s fine. You need to build the confidence and knowledge base to handle whatever life throws at you.
Control Your Fear and Live
When it comes time to take some of the first steps you’ve determined in your plan, take them. You will probably be afraid. That’s OK, just don’t let that fear stop you from trying to improve your life. If you’re not already on track, you will never achieve your life goals without changing anything.
When you start to fear the process leading towards your desired outcome, just remember that we all die eventually. None of us are getting younger. Waiting a few years will only make it harder and less likely that you’ll ever get there.
Life is too short to wait to live.