Time’s limited; don’t waste it

Published 9:31 am Wednesday, October 12, 2011

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

I heard that quote from Steve Jobs during one of the many tributes that played after the announcement of his death. The words kept echoing in my head so I listened again to the entire speech that contained that advice.

It is easily one of the best commencement addresses I’ve ever heard. Talking to the graduating students, Jobs shared stories from his own life as he encouraged the young people in the audience to follow their hearts and dare to dream.

It was a speech to a group of people just starting out in life, graduates heading out to find their way in the world. But, the words he spoke that day carry a message for all of us, no matter where we are in this journey we call living.

Jobs said he felt blessed because he discovered what he loved to do early in his life and he followed that path even when it twisted in ways he didn’t expect. He spoke of daring to step out into life trusting that it will take you in the right direction if you are following your heart and your intuition.

That is not what the world tells us. No, we hear that there is a set path, a way to get from point A to point B. Society wants us to follow the herd, the expected, and the planned. And those who choose to go in another direction get the label of odd, or lost or told they aren’t successful.

As I let what Jobs said sink into my consciousness, I asked myself questions.

“Do I know what I love to do?”

“Am I doing it?”

“If I’m not, what am I waiting for?”

“If the answer is yes, do I appreciate the gift and can I live it even bigger and better?”

As I sat with the questions, I heard the echo of answers coming from somewhere deep inside. I listened and allowed myself to feel the emotion of what begged for my attention.

The answers are personal and for me to ponder privately, but I think those questions are relevant for everyone, young or old.

Steve Jobs voiced what we all know but don’t say — death is not a choice. It is a promise. The choice is what we do with the time we have from now until that final breath.

I heard that Jobs had a feeling he would die young so he pushed to live his life as fully as he could live it. What this one man’s choice to go for the fullness of living did for the world is amazing. He changed it in ways that will ripple for a very long time.

But I have a feeling that he didn’t set out thinking, “Hey, I’m going to impact the life of humans in a big way.” He just found what he loved and walked the path where it took him.

All over the globe people mourned this man’s passing. They placed candles and flowers at stores selling the products his company created. Stories and editorials and memorials to his legacy were everywhere.

I wonder what Mr. Jobs would say about all of that attention. My guess is that he’d smile in that engaging way he had of smiling. Then he’d quietly tell people if they want to honor his memory, then get on with living. Look into your heart and find the next great thing there is for you to do, no matter how large or small, and do it because —

“Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”