Recently, I wrote about making a dedicated effort to try new things to have a little fun, expand upon a skill, or to step out of your comfort zone. Whether you’re trying new things or indulging in old favorites, stopping to smell the roses and enjoy life is something we all advise, but many of us rarely put into practice.
I was chatting with a friend last week who is nearing 40, is single, and doesn’t have any children. And here I am, 26, and a year ago or so, I thought I would be getting married around now (a lot has changed since then!). As we recalled how we had both attempted to either set a path for ourselves in our careers and relationships or avoided one assuming things would work themselves out, I was reminded that life is short, and more often than not, we have to just go for what we want.
“Life is short” can seemingly be applied to anything: taking that long-dreamed-of trip to Italy, visiting an expensive restaurant in town, having fries when you know you should have the salad. And of course, I have to insert my disclaimer and fine print rules: this approach should be taken taken advantage of, but not to the extent of driving yourself to bankruptcy, making yourself unhealthy, or doing dangerous or illegal things. Like drinking or eating, it’s about moderation. It’s about spending vs. splurging in a manageable way and being opportunistic without being an idiot.
Personally, I struggle with jumping into certain scenarios when they sound thrilling but also are risky — usually financially or emotionally. Some of you might have the same issues. Do you save up for two years for the big trip and avoid all other pleasures or do you say screw it, you only live once? Do you tell someone how you feel and hope he/she feels the same or do you push it aside because you might get hurt? Do you eye the best restaurants lists with envy and read reviews with drool coming out of your mouth but refuse to spend $80-100 one one dinner when you could spend it on several in one week?
When I’m not sure what to do, I try to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Will traveling to my dream destinations now be expensive? Absolutely. But will they be worth it? Definitely. Will eating at the #1 place in DC be expensive? Yes. Will it outweigh having about 3-4 dinners and another couple happy hours with friends over the course of a month? Maybe, but probably not.
I’m not suggesting everyone run out and pull a Ferris Bueller and spend the day rendezvousing around town while avoiding your teacher/boss (Well, maybe I am. Hello, one of the best movies ever. And I love Chicago). But as Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
So get out there and start living!