Thursday, August 02, 2007

Live Every Day as If It Were Your Last

I’ve heard this saying a million times. It’s a very wonderful, heartfelt, emotional plea. It’s all about recognizing what’s important and not just what’s urgent in life. The problem with it is that it’s totally unrealistic.

Yes, it’s true. I could get hit by a bus when I step out of my office. I could die in a car wreck on the freeway on my commute. I could stress myself into a heart attack. Heck, I could be the random target of a psychotic sniper.

It’s possible…

…But not very likely.

How do I know? Well, I’ve been married for 20 years, according to my upcoming anniversary. Almost every day of that marriage, I’ve gotten up, showered, and gotten in my car. I’ve driven safely to work, did my job, and driven home safely. Nobody ran me over, crashed into me, or shot me. Later that evening, I kissed my wife goodnight and went to sleep, and managed to wake up again the next morning.

So, for those 20 years of my adult life, I’ve managed to get through the day and have it NOT be my last. Out of 7300 days (yes, I did the math), they’ve all led to “a next day”. So far.

Now, here’s my next point. If I were to live each day of my life “as if it were my last”, I sure wouldn’t spend it at work. I’d get my kids out of school and we’d go play. The problem is that I can’t do that every day, unless one of them really does happen to be my last. Because if it doesn’t work out that way, then I still have to pay for the food and shelter I use the following day. And if all I’m doing is playing in the park with my kids, I’m not making any money, and I can’t live.

And then, I guess, we would be living in the streets, and soon would come that day where we would starve or die of exposure, and it would, in fact, be my last.

So, somewhere in between my need to be with my family, and my need to provide for my family lies a balance that I have to find. It’s not an easy balance to get, and even harder to maintain.

But here are some suggestions:

  1. Date Night

Every week, my wife and I go out on a date, without the kids. I once read that the one best thing you can do for your children is to show love to your spouse. I know a lot of people that are too wrapped up in their children’s lives to take a night with their partner, but that weakens the center pole of the family tent. Your marriage is the one thing that everything else in the family hangs on.

But don’t just stay in a bad marriage because leaving it is wrong. If it’s not working, then do what you have to to fix it. Staying miserable doesn’t help.

And trust me, it’s tough to run a business effectively if your spouse isn’t supportive, at the very least, and actively helpful at the most.

  1. Date Night With Each Child

A good friend of mine takes his kids out individually, to do what the child wants to do. Not with the other kids, or friends, just himself and his child. Talk about quality time. Total focus on one child. Each one will have their turn, so it’s OK to spoil them one at a time.

  1. Church and Spirituality

Whatever your belief system, it’s a great idea to do it as a family. If you know that you’re all going to be somewhere reverencing something bigger than yourself, you all draw together.

  1. Yu-Gi-Oh Games

My son loves playing games, and currently his favorites fluctuate between Yu-Gi-Oh and Pokemon. He beats me at least once or twice a week. At first I let him win. Now, I try to win and I still get trounced. Do you have to learn to play Pokemon? No, but my advice is to find out what your kids love and get involved in it.

  1. Work Hard, But Monitor Your Hours

Your employer wants as much out of you as he/she can get. That’s OK. That’s what they hired you for. So, get as much done as you can while you’re at work, and then go home. Try not to work more than 40 hours a week, if you can. Everyone’s situation is different, but remember that the urgent task that your boss wants done right away might not be so life critical as spending some time playing with your kids.

  1. Hobbies in the downtime

I’ve learned that, for the most part, I do my hobbies and personal renewal when my family isn’t available. I record my music while the kids are asleep. My wife scrapbooks while the kids are in school.

So, in the final analysis, it’s good to feel the sentiment that you might not live forever, and so you should really focus on the important and not just the urgent. Don’t neglect work for family, but also don’t neglect family for work. Remember that someday will be your last, and you don’t want regrets when that happens.

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous3:20 PM

    You don't know the MEANING of the saying. It's more then that, look back 5o years from now, and see how much you've wasted your life. Live every day as if your last, because right now, your the youngest you'll ever be for the rest of your life, so live out your younger days as if they were your last, because, guess what. They are.