BY NORBERT RUG
How will you choose to live your life? This isn’t a trick question. I am asking if you have chosen to live your life fully or just exist day to day. Not being able to control your circumstances is exasperating but it doesn’t mean you are helpless.
In my opinion, there are two types of time. One is when you sit around and wait until things happen to you. I think this is wasted time. The other is when you take control when you make every second count, when you are learning, growing and improving. It’s your call.
Many years ago, I accepted a job at a textile company shortly before I was to be laid off from a job that I was working at. A job that I loved. A job where I learned quite a bit. A job that I had devoted over ten years of my life to. They were downsizing the plant I was in because they had opened a new plant in Denver, Colorado that was built with all brand new equipment. I hated to leave but the writing was on the wall and I jumped at the chance to join this new company as a maintenance man.
The pay was less but the job came with a promise that I would receive periodic raises the longer I stayed there. I received a promotion to Maintenance Manager and a small raise. The job was great and I enjoyed working at what I thought was a “secure” business. I worked there nine months before they went bankrupt. I was devastated.
I took control of my life and cold-called on some local businesses resume in hand. I was hired to repair the machinery and building at one of them. I ended up running their second site and once again I was in control of my life. We had discussed a raise and I was told it was coming as soon as the paperwork was done. This was the same answer week after week.
Then one night I received a call from a millionaire in Toronto that had bought the textile company I had worked for, lock stock and barrel. He wanted me to run the place as the plant manager for more money. Most of the old employees came back and I hired a few friends that I knew were looking for a job. My second in command hired a woman who I later found out was his mistress. The two of them joined forces to undermine everything I was doing. This job turned out to be a disaster.
I grabbed the bull by the horns and started applying for every job I was qualified for (and a few I felt I could fake my way through) and was eventually hired as the maintenance manager in a food manufacturer. During the interview, the plant manager offered me complete autonomy in running the maintenance department.
This promise was quickly broken through when the owners came in and oversaw every decision I made. So I decided I would make the most of every moment I was there. I started my exit strategy hoping to be able to support my family by running my own business. They finally decided they could run the department without me and again I was blowing in the wind.
The most horrible thing in life is to have is a job that you dislike, one that stifles your creativity. This might make you uninspired, a person who does nothing more than the minimum necessary to ensure their job, a drone. We have to choose to make use of every minute of our lives and yes, relaxing or spending time with your family or friends is a good use of your time. We all need some downtime to recharge and get ready for what comes next. We have to make a willful decision to live in the present. Carpe Diem.
I do not imply that you should quit your job immediately if you don’t love it. Spend the time choosing how to spend your days. Learn everything you can about the job and yourself. Fill every nonworking second in productive reading and research.
Life is constantly asking us, is this going to be productive time or wasted time? On a long commute do you zone out or listen to an audiobook or think about your future? When our flight is delayed, are we getting some exercise by walking around the terminal or stuffing your face eating a cinnamon roll?
There is plenty you can do to make this productive, purposeful time even if the situation is not completely in your control. Read a book. Write something. Make a phone call. Observe your surroundings. Learn something. Open yourself up to new ideas.
The future is not something that happens to you or is even guaranteed, it is something you make happen. People say that this moment does not define your life, but it is just a moment in your life. How will you use it?
Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport.