Steve Jobs on How to Live Well Because Your Time is Limited

“Your 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. And 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.” – Steve Jobs

An avid fan of inspiring speeches and of Apple products, I’ve long been mesmerized by the rags to riches story behind the founder of Apple products, who died of prostate cancer in October 2011, and at the time of his death had amassed one of the largest technological companies in the world.

Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University is perhaps one of the most powerful reminders of the importance of learning creatively, and beyond the expectations of what one deems as is important. Explaining how he dropped out of college, but still managed to be influenced by a calligraphy class that later on changed the Mac typography, Jobs paints the picture of a working class student for whom knowledge, and the interest in this knowledge, allowed him to map out the very crucial tenets of his own understanding of computers, and to apply it to what he found around him.

February 24 is Steve Jobs’ birthday, and as a result, I compiled some of the most interesting tidbits from his inspiring speech about creativity, which serves as the penultimate reminder to creative minds everywhere, of remaining true to yourself. If he were alive today, he would have been 60.

Here are some timeless lessons on the impermanence of legends, and the necessity of following your own path, because your happiness comes from the realization that every second counts, and that your time is limited.

1. Remember to keep your options open, so that when you look back at a later point in life, you have made open-ended decisions that has served you well:

“Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

2. Soon after turning 30, Jobs found himself bewildered, to be fired from Apple, the company that he himself had founded.

The young Steve Jobs relaxing at home in 1984

However, losing his grounding helped him find his strengths, and can be a power example of how what may seem terrifying or terrible, may actually be a blessing in disguise.

“I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”

3. Do not compromise with the big things in life. What you want to do with your time is a big thing- don’t get involved in something that does not interest you, and that will hinder you in the long run.

“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. 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. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”

4. Live each day as though it could be the very last one of your life, because your circumstances can change in an instant. Jobs eventually lost his life to cancer, but knowing that his entire philosophy was derived from carpe diem igniting it is possibly one of the coolest means of recalling the awesomeness that is behind this great man’s ideologies.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

5.  Be aware of your own mortality, because if you don’t, time will pass you by and you will never have accomplished what you are personally meant to do.

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”


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