Why Today is the Most Important Day of Your Life

Lazy ape
I’ve been quiet recently. Not in person, mind – I still make all kinds of strange noises when in the presence of another life form, but internetically speaking (that should definitely be a word) – I’ve been absent.

Two steps forward, three steps back.

During this absence, I’ve been thinking a lot about time, or more specifically, the relationship between what I want to do and when I want to do it. I’ve looked back over the missed opportunities, the amazing plans that fell by the wayside, and the many excuses I came up with to reassure my fragile ego in times of sheer bone idleness.

One thing was painfully clear. For a guy who supposedly loves learning – I was a bit shit at it. I mean, I’m a lot better now than in the past, but the main reason for my frustration, perceived lack of success and overall argghhhh at life over the last year or so could be summed up by a stark realisation…

And I’m willing to bet this is the case for you too…

You’ve already wasted more time than it takes to master the skills you crave

oktoberfest
Crazy isn’t it? Here’s an example…

In November 2009, I started learning German. Why I chose this language is not something I can answer with any degree of certainty.

‘Why on earth are you learning German? It’s such an ugly language.’

I’ve heard it many times – quite often from native speakers.

‘You already know English; what the hell are you thinking?’

(The ironic words of many foreign language students)

Fast forward to 2015 and my German is not as good as it was in 2011. My language skills have devolved to such an extent I could travel to Berlin zoo and embarrass myself in the chimp enclosure.

Do you know how long it takes to learn a language? It takes months. Not years. Not a lifetime of fumbling around with a pocket dictionary and manic hand gestures designed to render you a rambling moron.

No – it only takes a few months of total immersion for your brain to suss out what’s happening, and only a few more than that for your tongue to get in on the action.

Behave.

So, in the five and a bit years since I proudly proclaimed ‘Ich bin Jamie’, I could have learnt German, Spanish, Russian and probably Klingon too.

So to reiterate my point;

More time has passed than it would have taken me to learn the skill I was aiming to achieve.

Bunch of arse…

What else?

Oh yes, the guitar.

guitarplaying-001
I started learning this ferociously difficult lump of wood almost 17 years ago. My musical brain is almost old enough to drink. My cat took her first breath, crapped herself and passed on since the day I first struggled with barre chords.

Yet I’m not 17 years’ worth of a guitarist. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bad. I can fiddle around a bit and move my fingers fast enough to excite a nun – but there are players out there who are way better than me – players with only 5-7 years of axe wielding tomfoolery to their name.

I only have myself to blame.

By now I should be shit hot – but I’m not. I am playing catch up because I was too lazy in my twenties. I have been playing guitar for exactly half of my life and it’s only now the penny has finally dropped.

How about one more example?

Last summer I started intermittent fasting. I only ate between 6pm and 10pm (sometimes just one big meal) and I lost over 2 inches from my waist in a matter of weeks. All I had to do was keep it up for another couple of months and I would have been ripped.

No, don’t be silly. I stopped.

Regardless of what you may read in various magazines, fat loss is not difficult. You take in fewer calories than your body needs, and that’s it.  Add in weight training and a bit of cardio here and there and magical stuff happens to your physique.

No carbs after 6? Don’t eat any junk food? Join weight watchers?

Seriously; eat a bit less and train a bit more. But I gave up that idea and now, several months later… urgh.

Why didn’t I just keep going?

The following sentence will answer everything. Are you ready for it?

Time will keep moving forward, with or without you.

Clock and Calendar
Let that sink in.

It can be daunting when you look into the future and survey the amount of time standing between where you currently are and where you want to be. Sometimes, it seems so far away it all feels a bit hopeless.

  • Degrees can take 4 or 5 years to complete.
  • It can take several years before proficiency is gained on a musical instrument.
  • Quitting your job may involve a 3 or even a 6 month notice period.

To be honest, the time frame doesn’t matter. Whether it is years, months, or even a few days – anything worth doing is not going to give you instant gratification.

If you don’t enrol on that degree – those 4 or 5 years will fly by, but you’ll still be at your current level of education.

If you don’t start learning how to play the guitar – you’ll still be useless in a few years.

If you don’t quit your job – after those 3 to 6 months, you’ll still have to clock in tomorrow as usual instead of leaving the office for the final time.

Time doesn’t stand still. It doesn’t give a shit about you.

There is a piece of Java programming code which increments a number. It goes like this…

Public void theFuture()
{
     this.presentDay = this.presentDay + 1;
}

This is how time works. The future is always the present day – except it is one more present day than it was today.

Here’s another bit of code…

if (time.contains(practiceOrEffort)
{
     this.futureIs(awesome);
}
else
{
     this.futureIs(meh);
}

I don’t think you need to be a software developer to be able to understand what I’m getting at.

Whatever you spend most of your time thinking about is what you should be doing.

If you want that degree – enroll today.

If you want to learn an instrument – start today.

If you want to quit your job – for crying out loud, hand in you notice TODAY!

There is no tomorrow.

Today is the most important day of your life – and it always will be.

If you enjoyed this article, let me know in the comments, and please share via Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media icons below. Thanks

About Jamie

Jamie is a guitar teacher and writer who hates the typical 9-5 existence. After quitting his job to enter the world of guitar tuition, he created this blog to document his thoughts and struggles as he takes on societies norms armed with nothing more than his cheeky wit and undeniable charm – Give his Facebook page a like, add him on Twitter or follow his Google+ page and he will repay you with even more awesome words!

Comments

  1. Lei lani lucero says:

    Welcome back to the internets! (sorry about the mess since you’ve been gone…)
    *laugh*
    I can tell this post is coming from deep inside – something that you rushed to get into our heads (hence the grammar) but – it resonates with me.
    I have been fond of saying “We all get the same 168 hours each week.”
    (some dolts even thought I was talking about how much I work – their comments were ‘wow! I only put in 75 hours last week.’ Pay attention to the maths, people! Geesh.)
    Sometimes it is easier to figure out why we CAN’T do something than to figure out why we CAN. If I find myself making excuses as to why I can’t, I stop myself…
    and call ‘inner bullsh*t’. Thanks, Jamie. You rock.

    • Hey, thanks! I plan to stay around a bit longer this time… so no messing around!

      Do people really think there are more than 168 hours in a week? I’m surprised they can tell the time.. haha.

      Thanks again – rockin’ is better than rollin’..

  2. Oh my, I’ve been there too. You totally nailed it.

    My graduation is taking longer than it would and I’m 34 years old now, I also started french, Dutch and Germany and I can badly write/speak English as a non-native speaker, besides my language which is Portuguese.

    After a shock of reality in the beginning of this semester, I decided to do something about my life. I hope I don’t give up again, I’m taking baby steps. Too many changes at once tend not to work out.

    Love your posts.

    Keep up the good work.

    Regards from Brazil,

    Joice

    • Hey fellow 34 year old person. That’s a lot of languages – I’m jealous!

      Keep going. It sounds like you’re doing great!

  3. Hey! I needed to be reminded of this concept. We usually forget how time passes by. Thanks for reminding me about it 🙂

    Greetings from Venezuela
    Daniel recently posted..Paz Mental | Freestyle / ImprovisaciónMy Profile

  4. About the guitar – I don’t think it’s necessarily fair to compare yourself that way. I started piano when I was about 8 (which I didn’t care much for at that time), now I’m 24, and I’m definitely not 16 years’ ‘worth’ of a pianist. But for about 8 years, I was playing the flute quite exclusively and competitively.

    We are all different and have our own commitments and responsibilities in life. A person might not mind being useless at everything else (haha), so long as he gets insanely good at a particular instrument, so he practices everyday, 8 hours a day, for say 10 years, and becomes worth even more than 10 years’ worth of practise perhaps. But they lack social skills, etc. Or maybe they started earlier when they were a kid with less responsibilities, and less things to take care of in life, and so they can just worry about school and practising their instrument every day.

    That being said, I still use age for comparison and for gauging purposes sometimes. But more importantly, I will do a self-check every now and then to see if I’m living up to my own standards, and ensure that I keep outdoing myself. After all, some of us might just have to accept that we are less talented than others and that we may need more time to master certain skills. So your ’17 years’ worth of a guitarist’ could be very different for another guitarist.

    What do you think?

    Btw, share with me some of your plans for world domination? Lol.
    Jeremy recently posted..Sword Art Online – Crossing Field [Piano] (Arranged by Kyle Landry)My Profile

    • Hi, I understand what you’re saying for the most part. I am very hard on myself, and you can’t just compare like for like and ’10 years’ is meaningless without further information. It’s true that a lot of virtuoso guitarists put in the hours during their teenage years when, like you say, they had less responsibilities.

      But I’m 34 and have less responsibilities than your average 14 year old… so.. 😀

      I disagree 100% about the talent thing. We weren’t running around as cavemen serenading the sabre tooth tigers with our musical prowess. Making intricate small movements with out fingers isn’t a natural skill and is useless in the grand scheme of things. It’s totally learned and the best guitarists are those who put in the most work to achieve their goals (and the right type of practice obviously).

      I’ve put in a lot of work this year to focus on my picking – and it’s slowwwwwwly paying off. YouTube ‘Eugenes Trick Bag’ by Steve Vai. Playing that perfectly is my goal.. and I’ve already learnt it.. just can’t play all of it clean enough to say ‘yep, nailed it’.

      That final 10% is another 100 hours worth of practice.. that’s the discipline.

      Oh, I can’t reveal my world domination plans just yet.. you might be the authorities.. 😉

      Thanks for the comment.

  5. Thanks for the post Jamie, I read them regularly and find what you have to say very valuable (I wish you would post more often).
    I’m now 47 years old, heading to 48. I have a lot of unfinished business in my life. For too long Ive been prepared to accept mediocre, or just too scared to go and be brilliant. I have only recently been really aware of my age and the possibility I may be getting too old to do the things I have always wanted to do (get a degree, learn blues guitar, advance my career).
    Fuck that, I’m going to get shit done. You article is very timely for me…I thank you and my family thanks you.
    Tony

    • Hi Tony, thanks for your kind words (I’ll post more often).

      Think of it this way – if you get cracking now, by the age of 50 you’ll be well on your way to finishing a degree, you’ll be churning out Clapton and Hendrix licks with ease, and you’ll have earned yourself a promotion, pay rise or a new role (whichever you want).

      Or you’ll wake up on your 50th birthday, wishing you had started now… 😉

      Go, Go, Go!

  6. Jamie
    One great way to put off things is to read books – I found the Procrastination Equation an excellent diversion.
    I think we can end up trying to do too much so binning a few items on the to do list helps. I’ve just culled “French Guaranteed” from my iPod.
    And my final thought for those with muscial aspirations is this little chap:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33984358
    Peter Ewin Hall recently posted..7 ways to simplify like Jack ReacherMy Profile

  7. Hi Jamie

    This really resonated with me. I can think of numerous examples in my life where I’ve looked back and thought, shit I could be halfway to achieving that goal by now – what have I been doing?

    My problem is that sometimes I want to do too much, so end up doing nothing at all. Really focusing on one or two things for a few years and building some degree of mastery is probably the better way to go.

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