Ten Ways to Not Waste Your Life

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Is there anything worse than waste? Wasting food that could go and feed the hungry? Wasting athletic talent because of laziness? Wasting an amazing business idea because we can’t overcome alcohol addiction? As sad as all that is, the worst is wasting our life. A lifetime completely devoted to the graveyard mentality of “me first” will be 80 years wasted. Rather, using our most precious commodity, our time, to invest in causes that will outlive us is the opposite of waste. It is life, and here are ten ways to get started not wasting your life:

1. Believe: Belief is the most powerful, positive life-changer in the arsenal. Believe that you are a valued person with something to contribute, and chances are you will.

2. Know where you’re headed: The cliché goes like this – if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere else. Goals, both short term – (“I’m going to spend the evening with my child so he goes to sleep feeling loved”) and long-term (“By Christmas, I’ll be able to tell my AA group and my family I’ve been sober for six-months”), are necessary for purposeful change.

3. Locate a better reference point for success than the culture: Know that our standard for a successful life is found in serving others, being a great dad, loving our spouse – these standards are more conducive to satisfaction than “Beautiful, because I’m worth it”, or “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

4. Value relationships as #1 – “Family First”: This is an extension of #3 – No man is a failure who is loved by a child. That principle extends to our spouse, neighbors, friends and co-workers. To love eloquently is the cure for the common life.

5. A dependence on anything external for happiness is unnecessary: When we “need” others – or achievements – to feel worthy, or happy in any way, we’re undermining this great truth: The simple fact of our creation, and that we are valued by the Creator, is sufficient.

6. Live in the moment: “I’ll feel like I’ve achieved something when ‘thus and such’ has happened.” “Just let me get that new garage and I’ll be good.” This kind of thinking ensures we’ll remain dependent on “more” for satisfaction. Repeat after me: “If I have a pulse and the capacity to believe, then my life is not wasted.”

7. Learn to defer short-term thrills in favor of long-term rewards: We often confuse fluff and bling with substance. When we believe we are dependent on externals for genuine satisfaction, then we will sacrifice what is real (relationships, stability, respect, hard work, etc.) for what is superficial. Grabbing what we can now and undermining what is lasting amounts to nothing short of self-sabotage.

8. Always continue learning: Life-long learners adopt the ongoing posture of reinvention and redemption. Learners ask questions rather than act as if they know all the answers. It’s difficult to waste your life when you are humble and open to new ideas.

9. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Knowing what we value puts it all into perspective. If we know why our life is not a waste, then we’re not so likely to get fooled by the trivia.

10. Never do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable doing in the presence of your Maker: If in doubt about this, talk it over with God first.

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