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Stop Wasting Time


I have this Steve Jobs fascination.  I am drawn to his unrelenting dedication to one goal. The way he lived his life made me think maybe I could be as dedicated, as inspired, and as resilient in my own life. I would be kinder to my people than Steve was though.

I have kept the following Jobs quote on a 3X5 card on my bathroom mirror for the last two years:  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.

For me, it also relates to this Annie Dillard quote: How we spend our days is how we spend our lives. There is no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.

Both quotes tell me the same thing: stop wasting time. Because we don’t have an infinite amount of it. Deep down we know it, but we ignore the knowledge. So we might as well use our limited time. I don’t think Jobs wasted his shorter-than-average life. But then, I don’t really think there a “perfect life” meter that must measure up to a set of standards or be marked as wasted.

Here is what I know about my life, my days. If I spend some time each day writing, working out, giving 100% at work, and spending good times with my family, all the days add up to a good life. If I find time to sketch, read, travel, and do something that scares the crap of me now and then, that also measures up to a good life for me. With work, and life, I’m happy, but I’m not yet satisfied. I’m still wanting to try new things, learn new things, challenge things, expand myself, and get away from ordinary. There is way too much for me to learn, to implement, to screw up and then try again to perfect.

My other favorite Jobs quote: 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.

By the way, the answer to the question on the mirror is still yes. If today were the last day of my life, yes, I would want to do what I am about to do today. When they answer is consistently “no,” it will be time for me to buy a coffee/biscotti/pizelle cookie cart and park it at UNR. Or no, a beach school. Cal Poly. Ya.

Reading: The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall I

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