We hear this cliche all the time – “life is short”. It’s usually followed up with some generic call to action like “make the most of it” or “live like you were dying”. Perhaps we might even get some Latin enthusiast imploring us to “Carpe Diem”. However it is used, and for what purpose, I find this cliche to be incredibly unproductive. In fact, I find it to be flat-out untrue. The truth is life, is actually incredibly long.
Now, one could make an argument that life, or 80 years as most people are expected to live these days, is in fact short when compared to the grand landscape of this planet, I would still insist, that although it may in fact be short (by your definition), that you actually don’t believe that it is. You still believe it’s long.
The proof that most, if not all of us, actually believe life is long, is betrayed by the simple fact that people aren’t generally pursuing their dreams. How many of us have become fluent in that second language we vowed to learn? How many of us actually quit our jobs to start that company we’ve been talking about for years? How many of us learned to play the piano as adults? What about reconciling a fallout with an old friend or family member? What about communication more with your spouse?
The good news is, what often times we refer to as laziness or unwillingness, isn’t. It’s simply a deep-seated belief that life is long, and you have all the time in the world. Conversely, what we often refer to as ambition, is nothing more than a deep-seated belief that life is short, and that time is scarce and finite.
This is why it’s been proven that inspirational speeches, movies, or fad diets don’t work, and are unsustainable. They treat the symptom – your feelings of inadequacy – instead of the cause – I’ll always have more time for it. You must change your belief first, then the actions will become easier as a result.