Carpe Diem. You hear this advice everywhere. Live in the moment. Don’t worry about the future. Forget the past. I’ve always thought I understood this advice. It’s so simple at the surface, yet so hard to follow, at least for me anyway. A worrying mind worries. We unavoidably feel regret for mistakes we’ve made, for relationships we’ve tarnished. Yet only until recently have I learned the truth behind the advice to live in the moment. Living in the moment is about noticing.
Lately I’ve been struggling with certain regrets I have. I left Atlassian after 10 months, and I find myself worrying that certain people at the company are disappointed in my performance and decision to leave so early. I respond to such worry by reminding myself why I left in the first place — to pursue the dream I’ve had for as long as I can remember. But answering a thought with another–by justifying my worry–I’m taking myself out of the current moment. I’m continuing the cyclical worry thought train that prevents me from noticing what is happening right at that instance.
Living in the moment isn’t about not worrying and not regretting. Worry and regret are natural tendencies, unavoidable for those of us born with certain personalities. Living in the moment is about noticing what is going on at this very instance — noticing what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, what you’re hearing, tasting, seeing. Living in the moment is a level below your thoughts and senses – it’s the recognition of what is happening right now, regardless of whether or not your feelings and senses are negative or positive, forward- or backward-thinking.
Instead of answering a worry with a justification, I’m now trying to just notice the worry. Notice it’s there. Describe it to myself. “There’s my old friend, worry.” And, upon noticing the worry, shift my attention to what’s happening right now — to what my body is feeling, to what sounds I’m hearing, to the beauty in the current moment. Because there really is so much beauty in the current moment. Take a second to notice it. Hear sounds but don’t describe them. Feel feelings but don’t justify them. Just notice what is happening right now. Regardless of bad or good, the current moment is always beautiful. It’s taken me some time to realize what carpe diem really means. Maybe the same is true for you. The realization starts with noticing.
In light of Steve Jobs, I want us to remember why we’re here today. Steve took a risk to start Apple, NeXT, and Pixar. Yet the risk and all the odds against him didn’t prevent him from achieving what was true in his heart.
During times of stress, worry, and fear, let us remember that we’re here because we’re following our hearts. Somehow it knows the way forward. We need to trust it, trust ourselves, and success, in whatever form it takes, will come. We are different than other people because we believe in something bigger than ourselves. We believe in something no one else truly understands. And only by listening to our heart, by letting it guide us, can we grace the world with the creative beauty we all are capable of. Throw away the status quo, the feedback of critics. None of that matters.
Let us always remember this. Never forget why we’re here, why we’re taking this risk. We believe in something big. And that belief will guide us through hell and back, through endless lines of code, through constant torment from skeptics and competitors, to something beautiful and bigger than all of us. Never forget this, no matter how dark times get. Never let your creativity be shunned by anything.
Steve Jobs passed away today. He has always been an inspiration, but I could have never guessed how much impact his death would have on me. I suppose it’s because all of us entrepreneurs dream to be like him. We hope we can make an impact as drastic as his – that our crazy ideas and vision can one day become a reality and change the world like Apple’s products have done so today.
To remember Steve, I watched his Stanford commencement speech, which I’ve always enjoyed and taken inspiration from. I suggest watching the video in full if you have the time. If not, I’ve documented my favorite parts below, which are the principals that sit underneath everything amazing Steve has done for us.
You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards. You have to trust in something — your gut, life, karma, whatever. Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well known path.
You’ve got to find what you love. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life. And the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. And don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find [the right work]. Keep looking. Don’t settle.
Our time is limited. So don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.