5 Signs You Might Be Throwing Your Life Away
The good news? You can get back on track
Only you truly know whether or not you’re living the life you want to live.
If something in this article hits a nerve or stings a little bit, that’s probably a sign that something needs to change.
How to change your life is an entirely different subject, but awareness of your situation is a great first step.
1. You’re Doing Anything Besides the Thing You Want to do With Your Life
“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.” — Charles Bukowski
You have to take care of yourself and your family, especially in the short and medium term. But if you spend the vast majority of your time doing things you don’t want to do for a long period of time, you’re throwing at least one major part of your life away.
So, no, don’t drop everything you’re doing right now to start some grand life adventure. Changing your life and building a bridge to your freedom isn’t easy at all, but it’s worth doing.
There’s a life you want to live that’s based on a few factors — what you do for a living, how much free time you have, your financial resources, and the experiences you want to enjoy along the way.
If you spend time on the wrong things, especially the wrong job, you can be deficient in all of those buckets. The point isn’t to make people feel bad for being stuck in situations they don’t want to be in. It’s to make them aware that they don’t have to stay in these situations forever.
That’s the equation to remember: a few years of your life where you have to work a bit harder than you’re accustomed to can pave the path to a lifetime of freedom.
2. You’re Staying in a Relationship When you Know it Isn’t Working
“If you’re still in a relationship, remember that just because you can get along with anyone doesn’t mean you have to. If you’re unhappy after having tried every way to make things work, chances are that you should move on. It’s in your best interest to end a dysfunctional relationship rather than get stuck forever with the wrong person just because you’re secure.” — Amir Levine
I don’t give relationship advice. I don’t know anyone’s personal situation, nor do I feel qualified to tell them what to do with such an intimate issue.
Here’s what I do know. Being in a co-dependent relationship where both partners won’t leave due to fear of being alone and starting over will have long-term negative psychological effects.
So why do people do this? Simple. A quote from the Sopranos puts it well:
We crave familiarity even if it’s bad for us.
The devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Or so you think. You will face uncertainty if you leave a relationship you’ve been in for a long time. You will have to re-adjust to being alone. But long-term, you can build healthier relationships and find love that doesn’t drain you.
If you know deep down you shouldn’t be with that person, I’d encourage you to think deeply about the implications of staying with that person.
3. You’re Spending All of Your Time on Entertainment and Distractions
“9 to 5 is not for losers. If you don’t complain […]. Your actions should match your mouth and your ambitions. I think working 9 to 5 is for a loser who says that they will rule the world, and they watch Netflix for four hours a day.” Gary Vaynerchuk
Notice I said all of your time. I’m not one of these gurus who says you have to turn yourself into a monk to be successful. But there’s no such thing as success without some level of sacrifice.
I watch Netflix and drink alcohol. Sometimes I even do illegal drugs. I waste time. I blow entire days being lazy. But I can do these things with a lot less guilt now because I’m free.
When I was building my side hustle, I skipped out on ‘fun’ activities for a while. I went months without drinking, worked on my writing instead of watching T.V., and turned most of my entertainment time into learning time.
It was easy for me to do because I had a compelling reason to do it. It wasn’t so much that I had to cut myself off from these activities. I found something that mattered more to me.
When you’re engaging in a crazy high level of entertainment and distraction, you’re trying to hide from something. You’re coping with something. As soon as you feel you need to do those activities instead of wanting to do them, you’re in the trap.
This isn’t rocket science, but we hide, and we cope, and we distract because we’re so afraid of having to experience our life in full clarity, face our demons, and fully come to grips with the present moment.
4. You Give Too Much of Your Time to People Who Don’t Deserve it
“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” — Seneca
Learning to say no is a superpower. We feel this guilt and obligation to freely give away our time, and often people don’t deserve it. You have to remove the idea that it’s selfish to judge how worthy people are of your time.
People will respect you more if you have boundaries. Subconsciously, people don’t like walking over you, but they will if you give them the opportunity to. Human nature 101.
Get comfortable just saying no without tacking on an excuse to save face. A line I like to use is, “I just can’t make that a priority.” That frame lets both you and the other person know that you’re conscious about what matters in your life.
It’s not that certain opportunities aren’t cool or that you wouldn’t like to do them, but you just can’t prioritize everything at once. Most people suffer not because of a lack of time management, but a lack of priority management.
When you treat everything equally, nothing truly gets done. A balanced life isn’t the key to success. Often, you’ll get further ahead by putting a heavy emphasis on what matters to you.
5. You Base Your Actions More on What Others Think Than What You Want
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” — Marcus Aurelius
If you look at the life of someone who’s wasted time, wasted relationships, wasted their work, wasted energy on distractions, you see the common thread of fear. Fear of not fitting in, fear of social rejection, fear of lowered status in the tribe.
Fear of what others think is, without question, the number one reason people hold themselves back from living the lives they want to live. And this is no easy nut to crack. You care because your brain is wired to care, but you can fight that wiring.
Your parents don’t approve of your career choices? Well, as much as you love them, their opinion doesn’t matter because they’re not living your life.
Society doesn’t approve of your choices? Well, I’ll keep it short in saying that ‘society’ is not the friend of individual success by any stretch of the imagination.
Your friends and peers are naysayers? If the people around you are trying to spill cold water on your dreams, are they really your friends? I’ll never tell you what to do, but I am trying to teach you how to think.
You’re only responsible for yourself, your family, and the people you care about most. And your ability to be your fullest self does impact those relationships.
You’ll be able to be more present and caring with the people you love when you meet your own needs first. Society is better off with you finding your path and being happy. Why? Because you’ll be one less outraged, sad, and anxious person in the collective.
Do what you want to do. Not what society, your friends, your family, or even I want you to do.
CONTRIBUTED BY Ayodeji Awosika
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