40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: Time Is Precious

When I first came up with the idea for this piece, I didn’t know how to title it. At this exact moment, a lot of celebrities from my childhood have been passing away. Luke Perry, King Kong Bundy, and Katherine Helmond just to name a few. Not only that, but my father in law, a man I never met until he was in a coma, just passed away a few weeks ago too. Although I certainly wouldn’t consider myself ancient, I just turned 40 a few months ago. Between all of these deaths I listed and reaching a milestone in life, I
can’t help but to think about how fragile life and the passing of time is.

This is a piece I’ve been wanting to write for about as long as I’ve had this domain. At this point, time means everything to me. Several events over the past few years have made me realize this more than ever. It’s a lesson I’ve taken to heart more and more as I’ve gotten older. Thanks to some of the topics I talk about in this piece, I’ve become much more proactive when it’s come to my own destiny. I believe everything in life happens for a reason, but I also think we have a say in things as well. We choose how we let life affects us. Many of the twists and turn I talk about in this piece say a lot about the person I am today.

The Effect Life Changes Have Had On Me

The past few years have been eye opening for me in general. When I left my job of ten years back in 2016, I figured life would carry on the way I mapped it out in my mind. I was given the opportunity to take a buyout package from my company due to internal restructuring so I knew I was leaving on good terms. However, I found myself leaving a managerial position and a big part of my life behind. It was a tough decision, but one I knew I had to make. Where do you go from there? At the time, I figured I’d just move on to a job in my field in New York City and carry on with life in the corporate television world. However, accomplishing this goal turned out to be much harder than I could ever have imagined.

After several months of interviews and searching, I found myself at a new job in the same area I’ve been in for the past decade. Although you might think my life still wound up moving in a linear direction, I grew to find that it was much more complicated than that. The new job I landed in 2017 was a step back from where I was just a few months ago. I quickly found out that this was also a pretty toxic environment. It was the total opposite of my last job. Over the course of the year I found myself growing frustrated and very unfulfilled. I came to a point where I had to start looking within for the answers to fulfilling my life and finding my purpose. That is when my current journey truly began.

Here is a picture I took of myself on my way out of my company after 10 years of service in 2016. Little did I know how much life was about to change after this night.

One of the things that came out of my buyout/job search time in 2016 is the blog you are reading right now. Although it took me awhile to figure out what to do with it, by 2018 it was up and running. The reason I started this blog was not only because I enjoy writing, but it was also because I was tired of not being given the opportunity to shine and showcase my ability as much as I’d like. I fell into a rut after my job ended. Not only did I miss being a leader, I also wasn’t satisfied with where I was in life.

By the time all of these changes happened, I was in my late 30’s. I was starting to grow concerned that I had let too much time pass without pursuing my dreams. I figured if I didn’t create this blog or start writing the book idea I’ve had since I was a teenager, I may lose the opportunity. Time had suddenly become an enemy of mine. Although I still have plenty of it, I clearly don’t have quite as much as I did 10-20 years ago. I started to figure out that now was the time to truly challenge myself and work towards something bigger than Corporate America. Apparently that is all I needed because I am still pursuing both projects to this day!

The First Wakeup Call

When you’re growing up, the supply of time you are given seems endless. Life feels like it is going to go on forever. I think this was my perspective for many years. However, the events on September 11, 2001 really changed my perspective on time. I didn’t know anybody directly affected by this tragedy, but I felt for all of the victims and their families. Although I was only 22, I could feel how precious time really was for all of those people, the rest of the world, and myself. By that point I had dropped out of college a few times and was more or less wasting my life working in retail and living at home. From that day on, I made a promise to myself that I would start living the life I truly wanted to live. It was a day that really changed my life, but not for the same reasons I think it changed many other lives. 9/11 was a wake up call for me. I had so many dreams in my head that I wasn’t working towards. That had to change.

Dealing With Death

Death is something I haven’t had to deal with much in my life. Other than my grandparents and great grandparents, who died early in my life, nobody that close to me has ever passed away. However, in 2005 I was presented with very shocking news about a classmate of mine from high school. A girl named Karen, class valedictorian and probably one of the best people I ever knew passed away shortly after a bad car accident. Although we weren’t close friends who hung out all the time after school, I did consider her to be a close friend. Not only that, this person had a very bright future ahead of them. She was a charismatic, but modest person who everybody liked. It was shocking news that really saddened me. Probably more so than any other death I’ve experienced. This was a person I not only knew for several years, but also showed a lot of support to me anytime we talked to each other. She was truly a special person who left far too soon.

There aren’t many pictures that can add much more to this thought. Time and Life are precious!

This event that made me realize just how quickly everything could end. Karen was a great person who was robbed of the opportunity to live their life to its full potential. Much like 9/11, I really felt the deep reality and meaning of an unexpected tragedy. The only difference is that this one hit home a lot more. Although this amazing person is no longer with us, I am thankful for the fact that I can still feel their presence. Not only do I feel their spirit everyday because of the person they were, but also as a reminder of how fragile life and the time we spend on earth really is. In more ways than I can explain, I found a positive way to find meaning in this unfortunate passing.

The Importance Of Good Health

Taking care of my health has become more important to me over the past few years. I try my best to eat well, get some exercise, and maintain a healthy outlook on life. All of these things aren’t easy to do, but I do them to the best of my ability. Every once in awhile a reminder of why this is important comes my way unexpectedly. Over the past year and a half I have seen two people close to me suffer from a stroke. I’ve also seen celebrities from my childhood suffering heart attacks and strokes at a fairly young age as well. You might think that a celebrity health scare or death wouldn’t affect me, but it truly does. Especially since some of these people are so close to my age. That in itself was enough for me to take another look at my own life.

Eating right and getting some exercise on a consistent basis has become very important to me as I’ve gotten older

Although I may not have been too close to all of these people, their struggles have hit home with me. Watching my father in law go from functioning decently to passing away in a matter of days was eye opening. It was interesting to watch my friend document his return to normalcy after a stroke took a lot of his day to day functioning away as well. They serve as a constant reminder of how precious our lives are. Especially since I have more or less hit the half way point of my life. The time for me to focus on
taking better care of myself is now. Oatmeal, fruits, veggies, and tuna sandwiches have replaced food like chips and egg sandwiches over the past few years. I also get up and walk a lot more than I used to. I know I will never be perfect, but I do have the power to make my health the best it can be.

How These Events Have Shaped Me

To be honest, I don’t know how well this post will resonate with people. Although I’ve had my fair share of obstacles in life, I can’t say I’ve been through anything as dramatic as some of the stories I told here. What I do know is that all of these people have made a significant impact on my life. My own struggles with career transition has impacted me tremendously as well. When you put all of these things together you get a message. The message is take advantage of today. If you have good health and the ability to chase after your dreams, consider that a gift. Consider that an opportunity for you to do all of the things you ever dreamed of.

I’d be the first to admit that running a blog and writing a book takes a lot of hard work and dedication. However, as much as I want to accomplish my goals, just the fact that I am actively chasing after my dreams fulfills a significant hole in my soul. If all of the stories I told in this piece didn’t happen, then I’m not sure if I’d actually be doing any of this today. That leads me to another point, don’t question how life unfolds. Everything happens for a reason. However, you also have the power to create the life you want to live as well. There is no better day to go for it than today.

Want to read more from my “40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years” series? Then check out some of these pieces!



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6 Responses

  1. Irene says:

    Great post Marc! 🙂

  2. It’s a true that things that test us are often the catalysts that lead us to live more fully and appreciate who we are and what we want. Thanks for sharing your story Marc.
    Shelley x

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Thanks Shelley! I appreciate that. Especially coming from somebody who certainly seems to be living a full life themselves!

  3. I’m really happy you left the job which you saw as toxic. When people tell me they left their job I get so happy because I know what its like to want to leave. I once had two jobs whilst at University but the second job I had I didn’t need. It was repetitive and didn’t challenge my leadership skills, because I’m a Team Leader/Manager in my first job. Yet, that second job affected my mental health and my relationship with others. I took a month off work, came back and within 2 days I felt like I went back to square one. I quit that job and ever since I’ve been happy. So I’m happy for you too loool 🙂

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      If I could I would blog full time. I definitely wouldn’t work in an office ever again. I’m still working on making that dream a reality. Being a manager isn’t easy. I did it for 4 years. I grew a lot as a person, but it is not an easy gig. The key is to be human about it and do the best you can. You can only do what you can control. If you can approach your days like that, then you will be much happier and healthier in the long run. Thanks again for reading!

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