In the recent media coverage surrounding the death of Steve Jobs I read a quote from Walter Isaacson (Jobs’ biographer) about how mortality motivated Jobs:
“He talked a lot to me about what happened when he got sick and how it focused him. He said he no longer wanted to go out, no longer wanted to travel the world. He would focus on the products. He knew the couple of things he wanted to do, which was the iPhone and then the iPad.”
My question for you is this:
Why does it so often take a terrible tragedy, a frightening diagnosis or a certain life stage (e.g. retirement) before we begin to take our dreams and plans seriously? Shouldn’t all of our years be devoted to doing the things that we really care about?
In all fairness, Steve Jobs was a pretty focused person even before his illness, but facing death seems to have resulted in an even more drastic re-ordering of his priorities. We all know our days are limited, so why not be more intentional with the time we have?
Jobs alluded to this idea in his 2005 commencement address to Stanford University students:
“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
As you start your day today, think about that quote. Think about what you really want out of life. What will fill you with a sense of purpose? What will make you happy and provide meaning? Whatever your dreams (retirement or otherwise), start taking them seriously. As Jobs so eloquently said:
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
Thanks for reading. Have a great week.