by Wendy Keller
Remember when you were a little kid and had this idea about how great grown up life would be? For most of us, it sure as heck didn’t turn out that way, did it? Look around at your friends from high school. How many of them are living lives you’d like to have? Probably none, if you looked behind the facade at what’s really going on.
There seem to be 4 ways we mess up our lives as grown ups:
We decide we got a bad deal. That some mistake we made or something someone did to us long ago – probably a parent – made our life what it is today. The truth? If we are over 18 years old, we’re responsible for our own lives, which is a daily decision. Yep, it’s way easier said than done, but like a person who stays in a bad marriage and gripes about it year after year, improving your life is your responsibility.
We take actions that hurt ourselves. That’s the illogical part of it all, isn’t it? You may know smoking is carcinogenic; you may know cheating on your spouse will have disastrous consequences; you may know being mean to your child will cause long term trouble; you may know drinking soda is unhealthy; but we do this stuff anyway. Why? Because the consequences happen so far down the road. If you put a cigarette in your mouth the first time and were immediately rushed to ER with terminal cancer, well, no one would do it. As grown-ups, in theory we can predict cause and effect a little better than teenagers, for instance. Do we take the actions that are in our own best interests?
We blame other people, things, surroundings, money, etc. instead of seeing if there’s anything we can do to improve things. It may not be much we can do, but even taking a little bitty step – refusing one extra cookie; saving $5 from your next paycheck and the one after that; spending an extra half hour studying; or going the extra mile at work even if we hate our jobs – these seemingly invisible things add up. Again, because the consequences aren’t immediate, we put off taking right action and create continual wrong results, and then act as if it is someone else’s fault. It’s human, but it doesn’t help us in any way. Problems are usually bad habits that got out of control.
We wait too long. We wait to live the dream. We wait to take risks. We tell ourselves we have to stay at this job because we’ve got bills to pay. We say, “I can’t go back to school because it’s too late for me.” And meanwhile, we get older each day. We talk ourselves out of what we really want. We tell ourselves people like us “don’t” and “can’t” and “shouldn’t”. So we don’t. And then one day, we’re too old or too sick and the “can’t” becomes real and you never did end up going to Europe or sky diving or getting that degree or taking that piano class. So you missed the first “dream” bus in life. There’s another one by in 15 minutes. This time, get on it! If not now, when? You are 100% entitled to grab a dream you’ve been nursing and figure out how to get it. It’s your turn – if you take your turn. Go right ahead, shove your way to the front of the line. The rest of us will admire you, envy you, secretly applaud your bravery.
I know bad things happen. I know life gives many people a “raw deal”. But I am living proof that you don’t have stay down when life repeatedly steam-rollers you and you’re flat on the pavement. Many of you are also coping with life’s challenges valiantly! You write and tell me you’re handling it all. The way I figure it, if you’re still alive you’ve still got a chance. Seize your life! Take responsibility for fixing what you can and finding some loopholes around what you can’t. You’re here, you may as well make the best of it.