Life is good. But it isn’t easy.
5:58 am. My eyes crack open. Then close again, unsure if light is what they want to be exposed to right now. Without a thought I sit up like The Undertaker (of WWF fame - here’s what I mean), unaware of the time or the fact that my alarm is 2 minutes from setting off a sound that could make the hardest warrior wince in discomfort.
I’m awake. My arms outstretched, flexing, as I do my best impression of a male lion yawning at daybreak… Minus, of course, the mane he dawns like a king, the deafening roar that gives goosebumps to any would-be prey, or the 8 females he sleeps with that make up his pride.
Today is day #9,697. Of how many, I don’t know. It could be my last. I could have 9,697 more. I could triple or quadruple that number. The uncertainty doesn’t bring fear, but urgency.
I’m not living JUST for today – a great way to be unprepared for tomorrow. But I am living with the knowledge that this could be my last. No arguments are left unresolved. No “goodbye’s” lack a parting smile from both parties. And, maybe most importantly, the day has a definitive purpose.
Some things are worth it.
“Men don’t change, they evolve.” Something Mark Wahlburg said in an interview I once read. It’s true, men are proud, stubborn beings. Some resist change – actually, many of us do – but it’s those who are willing to evolve, and SEEK this evolution that will reach their true potential. Wahlberg’s, the former underwear model, turned rapper, turned actor, turned TV and movie big wig, is a perfect example of this.
After my morning routine which consists of 2 glasses of cold water, 20 push ups and squats, cold water splashed on my face, and my vitamin cocktail (2 omega-3 pills, 4,000 IU vitamin D3, 3 vitamin C tablets, and 3 Brazil nuts), I sit down at my desk.
Through the doorway I see my poster of James Dean. Him standing, leaning with his back against the wall, collar popped, eyes squinted, looking into mine, no, through mine. He is cool personified. At the bottom:
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”
As my attention moves from that poster, to the one I have of Rocky at the top of the steps in Philly, I see the little note on my whiteboard: Try Something New Today. Today, one of 9,697, is a blessing. It’s a good day and I’m going to make sure it is so. I’m going to seek out change. I’m going to evolve. I will make a lasting memory today.
As I sit down at my desk I look at my to do list. The things scheduled for the beginning of the day, when energy is at its height, are those that require imagination. They require my full focus and attention. As I look down the list I realize that it will take the entire day to complete everything.
Do I need to get it done today? No. I run my own business. I love what I do, so much so that I wouldn’t dare disrespect myself by giving a half-assed effort. Is all of it fun? No. Do I really want to be optimizing my youtube videos at 9 pm? Not really. I’d rather watch a funny movie or grab a beer with a buddy.
5:58 pm. I’ve gone to the gym. Worked for 9 hours… so far. Not that I think the hours are important. What you get DONE is much more important. But now that excitement that existed in the morning has faded. I’ve gone from doing the exciting stuff. The writing. The learning. The reading. To the medial. The boring. However, each a necessary task that won’t entice the passion that writing or learning might. But necessary nonetheless.
To be honest, I’d rather not do this stuff. It really isn’t fun. But when I woke up on day #9,697, I woke up with a purpose. I woke up knowing that everyday isn’t going to be a breeze – few are. I was going to have to do stuff I didn’t like very much. Stuff that, on its own, sucks. But as a part of a greater purpose, I understand that it needs to be done. That purpose is what makes the boring and the medial… exciting.
In life there are things that are worth losing sleep over. There are missions that are worth sacrificing other areas of our lives.
Run through the life of any great man – great in the sense of what he has accomplished. I put my Old Man in this list, so it’s not just about famous people, but we’ll use them as examples because we all know who they are.
These men – the Mandela’s, the Lincoln’s, and the Churchill’s – had a mission. A clearly defined purpose. It was so strong and clear that other areas of their life suffered. They may not have gone on as many vacations as their friends (at least early on). They may have missed their kid’s plays, or soccer games. Or, they may have missed work to GO to their kids games. We each have our priorities and reasons for why we do what we do.
We can’t always condemn someone for spending hours upon hours at their work. These hours might have the most pure and just motive. Nor can we condemn someone for skipping work to spend time with kids or family. Is there anything more important?
Steve Jobs had a passion for his mission in life that very few of us can ever understand. His strength in this one area was undeniable. His weakness in others, the same. He started everyday with that singular mission in mind. There were bumps along the way. Actually for him, there were mountains he had to navigate around, over, and through. And even though he spent hours doing things that may not have excited him, the mission DID.
A Man Needs A Purpose
A man has something that gets him up before his alarm. He has something that he hates to do, but he understands why he does it. Our purposes in life change. They evolve. And with this evolution, we must do the same.
Life with a purpose is good. But it is never easy.
What’s Your Purpose? What’s Your Dream?
For every endeavour we take on in life, it’s important to understand the deep-rooted and emotional reason for this mission. Without a purpose driving us to achieve the unrealistic, we’re not going to get up earlier, work harder, and make the necessary sacrifices we need to make.
To go along with this purpose, we also need a tangible idea of what we want in life.
Break your life down into “missions”. You can have one, but if you have a work mission and a dream you’re trying to fulfill with your career, you’ll probably have one from a health or physique standpoint – or at least you should.
Write down your mission at the top of a piece of paper. For example, mine could be to help 1 million guys get in great shape and live Legendary lives. For health and physique it’s a bit easier, simply write some stats down. What’s your dream body fat percentage, weight, or weights lifted in certain exercises?
Now let’s make these dreams real. Find a picture of what this dream mission could get out (a dream house, car, way of life). Look in magazines or online and print it out. It’s important to have a real image to go along with this mission. For your physical goals, find a pic of your dream body – the one you want to have.
Keep this piece of paper with the purpose and the dream close. Have it visible at your desk or by your bed. Keep your mission at the front of your mind.
A Real Mean Has A Purpose
Churchill, Lincoln, and Mandela. These guys all had something great they were working towards. Now our mission might not be as earth-shattering as theirs, and even though success doesn’t happen in a straight line like some believe, we should constantly be moving forward, one day at a time, working to fulfill this mission of ours.
The ‘reasons’ you’ve written down. The emotional reason as to why you want to get into great shape (could be to live a longer and healthier life for your kids) will get you out of bed and busting your ass. The image will keep your eye on the prize. You’re not just working towards some ideal that doesn’t exist. No. This dream is right in front of you.