This article was written by Ivan Chan! Give him a warm welcome to Self Stairway in the comments and let him know you enjoyed his article.
Deep down, you know your life is meant to be something more.
So you can’t help but wonder:
“Is this all there is to look forward to in life?”
At first, it’s just idle curiosity. But over time, that innocent little thought starts nagging — starts making you doubt what you’re doing in life. Just a little at first, and then slowly your doubt spreads. Like a disease, it contaminates all other thoughts and makes you question them too.
No longer are you so sure about what you’re doing, or the choices you’ve made, or where your life is heading.
One moment, you thought you were doing OK in life. And then the next, you are desperately trying to shake this scary thought from your head:
“What if my whole life is a waste?”
Not wasted in the dramatic sense like committing a crime and spending the rest of your life in prison. Instead, it is the insidious wasting of a life that takes place over years with many seemingly small, harmless habits and decisions. I came to realize the process of wasting your life is slow and doesn’t happen overnight, but the results are devastating.
During college, I thought the world was my oyster. I was always pushing my limits to see where I could go next. Run for leadership positions in students’ clubs and win? Check. Get sponsored to go on international conferences for free? Yep. Study and live in Japan? Been there, done that.
Fast-forward a few years, and I had “settled down.” You know, the whole 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, office routine. On top of that, I had my chill-out-after-work-in-front-of-the-TV routine. Sure, I still went out with friends, but I couldn’t help but feel my life was reduced to nothing more than a boring rerun.
Day in and day out, it was the same thing over and over again.
And then it hit me: I’m just “putting in time” now, waiting for something better to happen in life. If that’s not wasting my life, I don’t know what is.
Could the same thing be happening to you? Are you wasting your life?
Most people don’t recognize these “harmless” routines they may have fallen into, so they go about their lives as if nothing bad is happening. But these routines are lethal in their tendency to waste lives if left unchecked. People often don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.
So unless you learn to put them into reverse now, you could very well look back on your life with regret.
How to Tell If You Are Wasting Your Life:
- “Good enough” has become the new standard. You don’t try hard anymore. You don’t try new things anymore. You are merely content with the status quo.
Being content with what you have is fine, but make sure you don’t confuse “being content” with “settling for less” because you are too scared/lazy/tired to go for what you want. Life is too short to play small. You don’t want to waste yours.
- You think work is the only thing that matters. Most adults spend the majority of their waking hours working. While that may be true, that doesn’t mean your work should consume ALL of your waking hours.
Spend time with your friends and family. Enjoy your hobbies. Go on a new adventure. Work to live; don’t live to work.
- You’re always chasing the latest toy. Can’t live without that latest cell phone, luxury car, or new line of clothes that just came out? We all have weaknesses. But if you’re always chasing after material things, you should ask yourself why.
Could chasing toys be a reflection of your unhappiness and yearning for something more in life?
- Television is your best friend. According to a recent study published by Nielsen, Americans on average spend over 30 hours a week watching TV. That’s over 4 hours a day.
Maybe you should spend some of that time with friends and loved ones instead. Otherwise, you may very well die alone. Sounds extreme, I know, but it’s your life we’re trying to save from being wasted here.
- You often escape into a fantasy world. For a brief time, you get to leave your current existence and experience something else entirely different, but you should never replace living with mere fantasizing. Live your dreams instead.
Do you even remember what they are? Are you following them now or are you merely living someone else’s dreams?
- You always have a reason not to take action. Isn’t it funny how some people say they want something, but never actually take ACTION to make it happen? Maybe it’s saying they want to travel, or get a new job, or find a new boyfriend/girlfriend. But as soon as they say they want something, they sabotage their own plans by giving an endless list of excuses why it wouldn’t work.
Always remember that inaction gets you nowhere in life except to a place filled with regret.
- You often find yourself reliving the past. Ah, the “good old days”. You may have heard your elders use such language. Your elders may not be going on new adventures as often as they did in the past, but what about you?
Are you really content with spending your waking hours reliving the good old days while others actually go and live new adventures
- You let others tell you how to live. Plenty of people will enter your life – well-intentioned or not – who try to tell you how to live your life. Will you listen? Thinking it through would be a good first step for you. It’s your life and you only get one chance to live, so don’t waste it by living dependently on the commands of others.
The Choice Is Yours
What would you regret more? Would it be enjoying life fully or dragging yourself through each day and wasting your life? Reaching for your dreams, or complaining about what could have been but never was? Walking the path that you’ve chosen for yourself, or walking someone else’s path just because you were told?
A life that could have been but never was is effectively a wasted life.
You deserve more so here’s your chance.
No one knows what tomorrow will bring, but you have a choice today. That choice will be something you either look back on fondly, or do so with deep regret in your heart instead.
I, for one, have chosen to live life on my own terms. No more boring reruns. No more self-defeating excuses. No more wasting time.
Today is the start of a new adventure.
What are you waiting for?