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Don't Be a Passive Bystander in Your Own Life

I was perusing Facebook today and stumbled across a post from one of my close college friends who wrote this, “Something I never understood as a kid that drives a lot of what I do today: Why people who are unhappy don’t do anything to change their situation.”

Thanks for the inspiration to write this blog, Tom – and I’m totally with you. I don’t get it either. Too many people live their lives in the passenger seat of their cars rather than in the driver seat steering the wheel.

Steve Jobs had a great quote that I’ll always remember (and that you’ve probably heard before). Every morning he’d ask himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would you I want to do what I’m about to do today?”

He said, “Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to make a change.”

Why don’t we all think that way? Why isn’t this how we direct our lives?

There are a lot of things we can’t control in life, but there are plenty of things we can, like our work situation, our job, our friends, and our relationships. We have the power to change what our lives look like, what we do each day, and who we spend our time with. Chances are if there’s something we’re unhappy with, there’s probably a way to work through it and make a change.

I had a friend recently tell me that he’s quitting his job and traveling out of country for a few months. He was unhappy with the way things were going at work and he desperately wanted to make a change. This is a big move for him. He doesn’t usually do things like this – he’s a meticulous planner and likes to know what’s coming next. But he’s taking a risk because his day-to-day wasn’t what he expected it to be.

I’m so proud of him. He’s being active, rather that passive – and that will totally change his world.

Unfortunately, I’ve met many other people in similar situations who can’t seem to find the courage to make a change.

Outside of work, I know people who feel trapped in their bodies, and upset with their diets. I know people who are in school and wish they weren’t and other people who aren’t in school but wish they were.

I know people who are looking for relationships but can’t seem to let anyone close, and other people who struggle in unhealthy relationships but don’t know how to get out.

I know people fear change, and the unknown – so they choose to stay in their bubble of normal for fear of what’s waiting on the other side.

I know that this post will ruffle some feathers because there are plenty barriers in life that are legitimately holding some people back – mental illness, emotional trauma, financial stress, family burdens, and the list could go on forever.

Everyone has a story and carries baggage, some heavier than others. But whatever your story is, and however heavy the baggage is that you're carrying, there’s one thing that rings true for us all: life should be more than passively watching the days blur by.

We can all take ownership of our own lives even if that’s by taking little tiny baby steps in the right direction. We can all make moves to be better, happier people. We can all put in the work to shape and mold our lives to be more fulfilling.

We all deserve to be in the driver seat of our own cars. So make the turn in another direction if that’s where your heart is telling you to go. It’s not always easy, but it will definitely be worth it.