Have you ever driven somewhere only to think back on the drive over and realize you don’t know how the heck you got there? You know you were just driving, but you don’t remember any details of the trip. Everything is just a blur. Typically we refer to this as “going on autopilot” and as dangerous as it is to do when we drive, can you imagine looking back on your life and realizing you lived the whole thing in that same way?
It’s easy to go on autopilot when we get into a routine. We get used to hanging out with the same people and doing the same job. Eventually everything starts to run together. The years go by faster and faster and it becomes easier for us to let things and people waste our time.
Time is a currency you can never earn more of. You’re allotted so much (an amount that you have no confirmation of) and if you blow it, that’s it. No restart button. No overtime. You’re done. So, how do we avoid wasting this very valuable allowance? Personally, I think it starts with awareness. The knowledge of what is wasting our precious time and what we can do to ensure a life well spent.
1. Concerning ourselves with people that aren’t concerned about us.
It used to be so difficult for me to dismiss someone from my life. People could run right over me again and again with only a half-hearted “I’m sorry” to offer before I’d welcome them warmly back into my world. As I’ve gotten older and gained a bit more experience with people, I’ve come to realize that there are just some individuals that don’t deserve a spot in my life. These people include (but are not limited to) fair-weather friends, compulsive liars and basically any dude I may be investing in that doesn’t invest back.
It sounds like an easy problem to fix, but when the compulsive liar has been your best friend for most of your life or you just ~really~ have a thing for that guy, it can make things quite complicated emotionally. The best move you could make? Take the energy you would be focusing on this other person and place it on the people that actually care. It won’t be easy, but I promise it will be better for you in the end.
2. Pretending to be into things we couldn’t care less about.
It starts with something as simple as telling our friend that we like the song they just played for us and before you know it we’re spending countless car rides listening to the whole awful album. We mutter the words “Oh, yeah, I like The Rock, too” and now we’re pressured into going to every one of his new movies.
If we’re being honest with ourselves, we hate that song and The Rock isn’t even on our radar. Knowing this about ourselves, we’ll still say the opposite to forge a connection with someone or to keep a conversation running smooth. But let’s be real… do you really want a connection with someone who is willing to pay $15 to see a movie in theaters that often when God has given us Netflix? No. No you do not.
Say what you mean and mean what you say and you’ll waste a lot less time on things you kind of wish didn’t even exist.
3. Staying at a job we HATE.
You know the feeling. Your alarm goes off and all of a sudden the weight of the world has been placed on your chest, your stomach turns and you question whether or not it’s that important that you make rent this month. You’d rather burn in the eternal pits of hell than remove yourself from the comfort of your bed and prepare to crawl into work.
I understand that sometimes we have to suffer through these things due to difficult circumstances, but if you’ve found an out and haven’t taken it yet… well, what’s the hold up?
Sometimes I think people start to fall in love with their problems because it gives them some sort of twisted comfort. Sure, we hate this God-forsaken job, but we know the mind-numbing tasks and horrible people so well. Why would we want to give that up for something we don’t know? I’m not sure, maybe because the job we know so well is the thing that’s stealing all our joy and wasting all our time? It’s better to leave your comfort zone and face a little uncertainty than to wake up everyday wishing for the sweet release of death.
4. Overthinking any and everything that happens.
I am the QUEEN of overthinking. Asking my friends a million questions to ensure I’m making the right choice, settling on a decision only to second guess it, staying up until 3 in the morning staring at the ceiling drowning in my thoughts… yeah, I’ve been there. You know what I got out of it? Absolutely nothing. Well, maybe not “nothing.” I did receive a sizable amount of frustration and misery in return. So, I guess that’s something.
Uncertainty is probably the most terrifying thing about life. The endless “what if’s” hold us back from so much it’s actually kind of disheartening. We don’t take a chance on our dreams because what if we fail? We don’t tell someone we like them because what if they don’t feel the same? We don’t take action because what if we make a mistake?
Ok, what if? What if you fail? Well, you’ll try again. What if they don’t feel the same? You’ll find someone that does. What if you make a mistake? You’ll learn from it and move on.
Depression comes from living in the past, while anxiety comes from living in the future, but you’re not truly living at all if you’re not here in the present. The present is the only moment that really matters because you can’t change the past and you can get to the future unless you survive the NOW. So, while the anxiety may creep up at times, you have to remind yourself to take advantage of the time you’ve been given today and learn to react to whatever comes your way tomorrow.
Say it with me: “‘What if’s’ will ruin me if I let them and I deserve a better life than that.”
5. Realizing the life we’re living sucks, but not doing anything about it.
You have crappy friends with crappy interests you don’t care about, a job you’d rather die than show up to and an overthinking problem that is practically suffocating you. So, you read a blog post about it and say, “Yeah! These things are wasting my time and that freakin’ sucks! I’m gonna go take a nap.” Then you wake up and go see the new Dwayne Johnson movie with some garbage people and pay for it with the money you earned at your hellhole of a job. Sounds like an exciting existence, right?
The issue is our lack of action. Our comfort in our misery. We could be handed the answers to life on a silver platter and still, we’d rather just go back to bed and pretend everything is fine. Reading a few blog posts and asking people for their advice isn’t going to fix anything unless action is taken. The knowledge you gain isn’t going to magically manifest itself into a transformed life. That’s on you.
Now that you have the awareness, what do you do with it? You cut those awful people out of your life, start being honest about your opinions, find a new job and tell your “what ifs” to go to hell. You deserve a better life than that and you’ll get it as soon as you put whatever you’re reading this on down and make it happen.
I’m rooting for you.