Live with Joyful Urgency

“If you want to do anything, do it now, without compromise or concession, because you have only one life.” - Gao Xingjian

It’s opening night, you are standing on stage, and it is, literally, the performance of your life. Just because you don’t feel prepared, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.

Many of us spend our lives in an incubation mindset -- always getting ready and putting off and pushing important actions over the horizon. But we only get an average of 4056 weeks in this life and for most of us, we’re a quarter down on those already. The point being, we all need to live with a more palpable sense of urgency.

There is one life event that prepares all who experience it to live life to its fullest -- the near death experience. When people are forced to bear witness to their impending death, when they are steeped in the reality of life’s urgency, they immediately lose the read-through mentality.

But no one really wants to go through what Ric Elias did just to get off the couch. In his TED talk, he discusses the three things he learned while his plane was crashing. He says, “I was given a gift, which was to be able to see into the future and come back and live differently. What would you get done that you're waiting to get done because you think you'll be here forever?”


Here are his three revelations:

  1. “I no longer want to postpone anything in life.” Ric thought of all his unfinished business with friends and family and self; experiences he had not yet had, and even wine bottles he was saving to open for the right occasion. Now he says, “If the wine is ready and the person is there, I'm opening it.”
  2. There was only one regret Ric had as his plane approached the water. He regretted the negativity he let persist in his life. “I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter with people that matter. I no longer fight with my wife.”
  3. The third thing Ric learned was that he wasn’t afraid to die, he was just sad to miss experiences of living. He didn’t want to go yet. “I realized I love my life.”

Do you love your life? Then do yourself a favor and build urgency into your actions each day. Science tells us this will be beneficial, for our mindset and for getting things accomplished.

Mindset wise, contemplating our mortality builds a sense of wellbeing. According to this Eastern Washington University and Hofstra University study, those who contemplate death are more grateful about life and the things they have.

Contemplating the end is also incredibly motivating. According to Dan Ariely, Duke University professor and the author of the book, “Predictably Irrational,” the urgency that comes from deadlines (the word dead is right in there) give us the smaller hurdles and rewards we need to keep moving forward.

Performance wise, there is a well known connection between “arousal” (aka: stress/urgency) and performance. Maybe you think you’ll set a deadline and build in the urgency a bit later after school or some big project is over. But performance coach, Jensen Siaw has it right when he says, “Don’t wait until you are ready to take action. Instead, take action to be ready.” As it turns out, taking any small action is the key to accomplishing goals. Even if it’s just writing down what you plan to do.

All this to say that you don’t have to be standing on solid, feel-good ground to step out and shine. No more practicing living. You are ready, so cue your stage entrance now. Get out there and kill it.







Rocky Lewis
Rocky Lewis

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