What Should I Do Today?

This is day # 8 of 30 days of blogs on philosophy. Over the next 5 days, I will continue to attempt to provide answers to some big life questions as a learning exercise.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Anne Dillard

Imagine that you’re at an all you can eat buffet. One of the huge ones with every type of food imaginable. You’re terribly hungry like you’ve never eaten before. And you have thousands of food options sitting in front of you.

But there is a wrinkle.

You’re not going to leave the restaurant and eat again in the morning. Instead, you are probably never going to eat again.

The odds are that this is the last time you will ever eat.

How would you choose your strategy?

Would you load up on one thing? Would you have salad and have faith that you might eat again later? Or would you fill your plate with a bit of everything, and really try to savour it? To pay attention, to be conscious, and to really enjoy it?

It case you haven’t figured it out, the buffet is a metaphor for life.

You’re alive, and you have all these options of things to experience in your life, but at some point it will end.

This is your one opportunity to live, so we need to choose accordingly.

Drifting through life without making decisions is like picking the first food you see and only eating that. It might fill you up, but it could be so much better.

So many of us are just living the life like that though. I know I was.

I didn’t start thinking about what I wanted to do with my life for the longest time.

I was just following the path of least resistance.

I wasn’t thinking about what I wanted to do with my days, and trying to create that life.

What should I do with my day, is an extremely simple question, but it is amazing how many people aren’t answering it.

I know from experience. I spent years without thinking about what I really wanted to do. I was just doing what was expected of me and what was normal. I wasn’t choosing what I wanted to be doing; I was doing what I thought I ought to be doing.

“Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.”               – Ayn Rand

So many people are living lives they haven’t actually decided to live. They are working jobs, not because they are particularly interested in the field, or because the job offers a good opportunity for growth, but instead because it was the first job they were offered.

People who are sacrificing their enjoyment of life, every single day, because they haven’t taken the time to think about what they want to do not just at the moment, but for the long-term. What they want to be doing every day for the next 5, 10, or 20 years.

Getting to the point where you will ask it, and having the fortitude to follow through with your answer takes a lot of courage.

Life is about finding a balance between delayed about immediate gratification. You can’t be sure of when you will die, but from looking at statistics, and some family history you can see that you will probably live for a while. Then you need to find a way to enjoy the short term, without sacrificing the long term. And prepare for the long term without sacrificing the short term.

Naturally, this requires some trial and error.

Once you set your mind to the idea of living a life that you enjoy you might focus a bit too much on having fun right now. Then you might focus a bit too much on working to make things better down the road. You’ll go too far one way and then back the other. Never really getting to the perfect place, but by continuing to show up and ask yourself how can I really maximize my experience of life? Thinking of answers for yourself and continuing to chase them you’ll be leading a life worth living.

I’m going through these questions to clarify my thinking on them, and hopefully, provide value to others who are reading. If you agree or disagree with me, I would love to hear from you in the comments! Let me know how you would answer this question, or what you think my answer is missing!

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