I’ll bet you didn't know that I used to be a fire fighter! The picture above is of the La Grande Hotshots Fire Crew – a team that I was proud to be a part of during the summers of my college years.
We've all had experiences that have shaped our lives and determined how we see the world. For many of us, these experiences happen during high school or college – those years when we feel most alive and connected to our peers. For others, our best days may come from a shared experience with a close-knit group such as a sports team or the military. Others find glory through extended travel abroad or at a job they were especially proud of.
I am very proud of the summers during college where I worked as a ‘Hotshot’ for the U.S. Forest Service.
What is a Hotshot? It’s a cohesive unit of specialty firefighters that attack at the hot and/or complex section of a forest fire. In short, it was some of the hardest and most rewarding work that I have ever done.
Why was this hard work so rewarding? I suppose it was because I was part of a team that was constantly challenged and rose to the occasion together. Whether it was going 48 hours without sleep or hiking 14 miles to reach a fire, I will always remember feeling a huge sense of accomplishment from the challenges that we conquered together.
What is it that makes these seemingly challenging times so rewarding? I think it’s because they represent a time of rapid discovery and advancement. We do more than we think we are capable of doing and our threshold for what is possible changes forever.
But what happens after the ‘glory days’ have ended? For many, we put them aside and move on to something else. This often takes the shape of getting a ‘steady job’, buying that new flat screen TV, or taking the annual two-week vacation.
While these are all noble endeavors, are they really what we want for ourselves? Is this really that life that calls forth our best? Or do we get complacent and start making decisions based on the expectations of our peer group, our co-workers or our culture?
And if a previous experience (like my Hotshot firefighting days) were really so great, shouldn’t this provide the motivation for greater challenges? What would our lives look like if we kept pushing the edge of our comfort zones?
What if we were to say to ourselves, “Wow, it was so incredible to have that experience. Since (fill in the blank) was so amazing, I’d better make sure to find a way to do more things like that!”
Here’s a novel idea: wherever you are in life, however old you are, begin thinking about every day as a new chance to push past your comfort zone and live as if it were the best time of your life.
If you are serious about making now the best time of your life, answer these questions and share your thoughts in the comments:
- Which of your life experiences was the most inspiring and rewarding?
- How can you leverage these experiences to get what you want out of life now?
- Based on what you learned from your experiences, how can you apply this to your current life to live more fully?
Whatever your answers to those questions, you will probably discover a seed of truth that you can apply to your life to make the world a better place for yourself and others.
If you like the idea of having the best time of your life right now, then get started! Don't wait. The best time to act is almost always now.
What will you do to make today the best time of your life?