Are you wasting your life?
Someone once said that you can find the most expensive real estate in the cemetery, for it is filled with wasted lives, regrets, lost dreams, unmet goals, unsung songs and disappointment.
What image do you have in your mind when you think of someone wasting their life?
You might be thinking of someone living on the dole, in between jobs, living in their parent’s basement, or playing video games all day.
But that could be a mistake because even so-called “successful” people are often guilty of wasting their lives.
So, what do you think, are you wasting your life?
Maybe you already know the answer to that question, but perhaps you don’t because you’re unsure about what that looks like.
What does it look when somebody’s wasting their life?
I have a simple definition and rule of thumb that I go on to determine (or gauge) when I’m wasting my life,
If you spend the majority of your day doing something you’d rather not do, you’re wasting your life.
Why do I say that?
Because ideally, your life should be interesting and meaningful to you.
It should even be fun and exciting a good part of the time.
Now, just to be clear, fun and excitement don’t just mean fun and games all the time …
No, I could be studying for an exam or working on an assignment, but because I thoroughly enjoy the subject matter and the prospect of where learning the subject can take me, I find it exciting and purposeful.
Which I guess is another key component to determining whether you’re wasting your life or not …
When you lack purpose and your life is essentially meaningless, i.e. you don’t see the point of the activities you are engaged in, you might very well be wasting your life.
I mean, you’re already wasting time by doing that, aren’t you?
But what if you’re still unsure?
How can you know for sure that you’re wasting your life?
Well, I don’t think there are any easy or unequivocal answers to this question, but I do think there are some clues (indicative signs) that might be telling you that you’re most likely wasting life.
Let me give you eight …
Eight Common Symptoms of Someone Wasting Their Life:
You procrastinate too much.
If you just can’t seem to stop yourself from surfing the internet, playing video games, texting your friends, or watching TV, your life might be on the wrong track.
If you find that you’re regularly avoiding those things you should be doing, you might be wasting your life.
Typically, when a person feels miserable, they tend to do everything they can to amuse themselves in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
But therein lies a clue as well, in that,
People that are unenthused with life in general are master procrastinators.
Because anything to avoid the pain of boredom or despair sounds good to people in this situation.
Procrastination is, therefore, a sign that you might be wasting your life.
You spend money foolishly.
Excessive spending can be another sign that you’re wasting your life.
Because, if you think about it, spending too much is just another distraction technique.
There is a certain thrill that comes with buying something new and enjoying the initial experience of that purchased item.
Unfortunately, purchases never do much to enhance your mood after that initial, very short-term boost.
Consequently, what ends up happening is that you’re left needing to spend more money to feel good again.
And so, you get caught in a cycle of excessive spending (or constant spending) as a means to alleviate the lack of excitement in your life, boredom, purposelessness, or general lack of direction.
In short, you are using another distraction technique or method to hide the fact that you are, in fact, wasting your life.
You dread getting out of bed during the week.
Now, this isn’t to say you should be jumping for joy when the alarm goes off every morning.
However, if you can’t stand the thought of spending another day following your current path, it might be a clue that it’s time for a change.
The reality of wasting your life is that nobody is coming to save you.
So often we go through life doing something that we don’t like while justifying the reasons for that, but at the same time, we have no exit plan.
Sometimes our situation demands that we do something we might not necessarily enjoy (or like anymore), but that doesn’t mean we need to stick with that indefinitely.
Yet, that is exactly what a lot of people do.
For example, about 18 months ago I finally stepped away from something that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember; both personally and professionally.
But I came to a point where I realised that this is not my path anymore.
And I had to make a call on things.
Now, I also had to be responsible, given my situation and circumstances.
Which meant I couldn’t just throw the baby out with the bathwater but had to come up with a good plan to transition from one season in my life to another.
Which I did.
Fast forward more than a year, and I’ve been able to work with people I wanted to work with, and on things that I wanted to work on.
I’ve also enrolled at university again, aiming to complete my studies in the field that I’ve been fascinated by for many years, but never managed to complete.
Again, there were some practicalities around this, but I simply started with a decision.
Because that’s what you will need as well if this rings true for you.
You will have to decide at some point or another to close one chapter in your life and open another.
Yes, you need to be as responsible about it as possible but putting it off isn’t responsible either.
Lacking the motivation and energy to get out of bed every day is a very clear sign that something is amiss in your life.
It might very well be a sign that you’re wasting your life.
In which case, I would urge you to take it seriously and start thinking about your next step.
Your negative self-talk is unrelenting.
When you’re wasting your life, your self-talk can be brutal and never seems to let up.
Now, unrelenting, excessive negative self-talk can, of course, also be a sign that something else is amiss in your life.
It could also be indicative of low self-esteem and self-worth.
All of which we are not going to go into right now.
However, unrelenting, negative self-talk can also be an indication that you are dissatisfied with your life.
That can, of course, mean that you’re wasting your life and that you somehow know that on some unconscious level.
So, firstly make sure that if this is true for you, it is not because of how you feel about yourself, but rather a sense of dissatisfaction with where your life is at.
And if it is indeed the case that you feel dissatisfied with your life, it could mean that you’re wasting your life … But that’s fixable.
You might have to consider a significant life change if you can’t manage to speak nicely to yourself.
And that might resolve it for you.
But, as I said, there is also the possibility that your relentless negative self-talk stems from low self-worth and esteem.
It could also be because of other reasons, like a more pessimistic disposition, but that will need to be something you have to check out first.
Just, for now, take relentless, negative self-talk as a sign that something is amiss in your life and probably needs to be looked at.
You lack long-term goals that excite you.
You probably expect this one, but if you lack goals in your life, chances are you’re wasting your life.
Because a person without long-term goals is simply blowing in the wind.
They are not really going anywhere.
They don’t really have any direction.
They simply wake up every day, go to work (or not), get through the day, come back home and go to bed, only to repeat the whole cycle again the next day.
Here’s the problem …
You can’t make significant progress in anything without a clear intention and direction in the form of some goal or dream.
And any good goal should be exciting to accomplish.
So, if you have the right goals in place in your life, you will most likely feel the excitement on some level.
And you definitely won’t be wasting your life because you are moving toward something.
In other words, if you’re lacking excitement in your life right now, or you don’t have any long-term goals that excite you …
Chances are you might very well be wasting your life … Because you are wasting your time.
This is a bit of a tricky one because there are a variety of reasons for depression.
We also need to distinguish between feeling blue (i.e. feeling depressed) and diagnosed, clinical depression (by a qualified counsellor, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist).
But this is not the post, nor place, to go into that.
If, however, you are certain that you are not struggling with a mental health issue, but you’re merely feeling low and slightly depressed because of it, there might be a chance that you’re living the wrong life for yourself.
You might have to go see your doctor, counsellor, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist to make sure, but also consider the possibility that you might just be unhappy with the direction of your life, right now.
I’ve met a lot of people who confused purposelessness for depression.
The reality is that if you truly dislike your life at the moment and don’t like your current and available options, it’s completely natural to feel depressed.
In fact, I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t feel “depressed.”
But we shouldn’t cry Wolf just yet.
Because you can very easily label yourself with something that becomes debilitating unnecessarily.
So, always make sure to get checked out by a qualified professional before jumping to conclusions.
But once you have, and they can’t clinically diagnose you, then perhaps you need to consider that you’re just completely dissatisfied with your life right now.
And if that’s the case, you can do something about it.
Because when you’re wasting your life, it is normal to feel depressed.
You avoid others.
Another clue that you might be wasting your life is that you try and avoid other people.
Oftentimes, when you’re not pleased with your current life path, you might feel embarrassed by what’s going on.
And so, it is easier to avoid others than talk about it.
Many of us want to be that person with a career we love and who is passionate about life.
But that’s not how it always pans out.
Sometimes, life is just a bit disappointing.
However, avoiding others won’t make you feel any better.
It definitely won’t change the fact that you’re wasting your life.
The only thing that can change the trajectory and direction of your life, is you by having intent and taking new action.
This brings us to the last clue or sign that you might be wasting your life …
You stay in your comfort zone 24/7.
It’s hard to cope when you feel like you’re wasting your life.
I completely understand the feeling.
Been there done that.
And so, any additional stress can feel overwhelming.
This means it’s better to simply stay in our comfort zone all the time and avoid putting ourselves in a situation where we are open to experience more stress and anxiety.
So, a common coping strategy is to stay where you know it’s safe.
We call it a comfort zone.
It’s a place where you watch reruns of your favourite shows, playing video games all the time, avoid new foods and experiences, avoid other people, and hide at home.
These are all common signs that your life path might need an upgrade because you’re wasting your life.
Now, again, these could also be a sign of some deeper-seated issues, but that’s not what this post is about.
For now, I’m simply assuming that you are not dealing with any mental health issues, are not in an abusive relationship, are not addicted to any substance, but are simply somebody that feels stuck in your current life.
You want to get out of it, but you’re not sure how.
And if that’s the case, the first suggestion I would make is for you to start paying attention to any possible signs that you might be wasting your life and do something about it.
Put something in place, set a goal, surround yourself with somebody positive and uplifting, and start walking down a new path.
You might not know where it will lead but remaining stuck isn’t a good option either.
So, you might as well see where it goes.
Take Away …
Listen, it’s not easy to admit to yourself that you might be wasting your life, but what’s the point in wasting another day?
You might as well have a long, hard look at your life and have that difficult conversation with yourself.
If it is indeed the case that you’re wasting your life, then make a commitment to yourself that you won’t waste another day on your current path.
Make today the day you begin moving toward a life that is interesting and meaningful to you.
Because, as I said earlier, there is no one coming to save you, so the responsibility rests squarely upon your shoulders.
Take a small step today toward a life that fills you up.