For those of you who didn’t know, there is this thing called ‘life’. It’s a pretty big deal. In fact, so big that you only get one chance at it. Regardless of where you come from, where you find yourself today, or where you’re looking to head, you are in control of your destiny. Your life consists of three phases – the past, the present and the future. Even better, not one phase defines who you are as a person, but rather all three over the course of time.
To make the most of this one shot at life, it’s important to understand where you once were (your past), your position today (present), and where you want to be in some period of time ahead (your future). When you can piece together these three components, life makes a lot more sense than when narrow mindedly focusing on just one.
The best way I can explain this is to look at my life one year ago, today and where I intend to be one year from now.
365 days ago I found myself at a dead end. After living in Guatemala for a year, I had been back in the states for six months. Although I had found a job shortly after returning, it was only months later (March 2013) when I lost that job and found myself unemployed. I had spent nearly everything I had while living abroad, but to this day, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.
Never before have I had to file for unemployment. Too stubborn to do so, I did whatever I could do to make enough money to pay the bills. With each passing day, I became more stressed and more uncertain as to when, or if, something would work out in my favor. With the help and support of those closest to me, I knew that I had a team of great people who would help better the situation. I focused my energies on creating opportunities for myself, networking with others and marketing my talents.
I’m relieved as hell to say that my life is drastically different than what it was a year ago. Although different, I’m thankful for having had to fight through those obstacles in the past year to get here. Better prepared to conquer the world (yes, I mean this sincerely despite just yet knowing how), I know that the things I am doing today will get me there.
Last May, I was given an opportunity to begin a rewarding career, and through that, I have been afforded opportunities I always knew would happen but was uncertain as to how and when. I became engaged to my best friend, bought a home and actually have the ability to do things because I want to. What I have now, it’s great, but it’s not enough. There is so much more that I have yet to accomplish, and it is exciting to look towards all that will happen in the next year.
Just this morning I returned from Houston, TX, after completing a training seminar the past few days for work. I chose to be in Houston while my fiancée was home recovering from knee surgery. Would I have liked to have been with her? Certainly. Does she understand why I went? Absolutely. We both have goals that we want to achieve, and that trip was a necessary part in the process to accomplishing them.
What’s to Come?
In 363 days I will marry my best friend. To look back and think of all that we have overcome in four years makes me smile. Knowing the support that we share in each other’s goals is incredible. Understanding that we have a whole life together to explore leaves me speechless.
I ran my first half marathon in May of 2010. Never anticipating becoming a life long runner, my goals this year are to qualify for Boston, complete a 50 Mile Ultramarathon, run the Marine Corps Marathon in DC and take advantage of physically being able to do these things now.
Professionally, I’m growing each day, and I look forward to the challenges ahead and all that I have yet to learn. Taking it in stride, learning all that I can and knowing that I still have a lot that I want to accomplish. A year from now I want to look back and know (not feel) that I better than expected.
What does this Mean for You?
My intentions in using my own ‘story’ as an example of the three phases in life isn’t to draw attention. Rather, to try and help draw parallelisms to your own life. To see if there is anything that resonates with where you once were, what you’re feeling now and your ambitions for the years to come.
When you look back to certain periods of your life that were difficult, it’s easy to identify why it was so hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel (you lost your job, had no family support, weren’t doing well in school). You understand why you had those feelings of failure. At the same time, today you can stand tall because you are aware that it has made you a stronger person.
Because it has made you humble. Those past experiences have taught you to appreciate all that you have – never taking anything for granted, and always striving to reach whatever it is you’re after. Once you can appreciate where you came from, then you begin living in the present. And when you begin living in the present, then you must take aim towards what is to come.
Your Future Ambitions
Be alive, be aware and be present. I often hear the question, “How do you get from where you are now, to where you want to be?” My personal response is that you have to make sacrifices – unselfish sacrifices. You will have to make tough decisions, and you will have to prioritize your life in ways that you haven’t previously.
Jimmy Valvano is a former NCAA College Basketball coach who passed away in 1993 after a battle with cancer. Here’s what ‘Jimmy V’ had to say in his acceptance speech for the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage ESPY Speech; “How do you go from where you are to where you wanna be? And I think that you have to have an enthusiasm for life. You have to have a dream, a goal. And you have to be willing to work for it.”
An Enthusiasm for Life
Where you came from. Where you are now. Where you want to be. Regardless of where you are in your journey today, keep your enthusiasm, your passion and your drive. Be humbled from the past, be appreciative of the present, and be excited for what is yet to come.
A year from now, do you want to look back and say, “I am today where I thought I would be a year ago,” or, “I never thought I would still be in this situation.” I know what my response is. What’s yours?
The world is at your hands. Embrace it. Live it.