Life comes with so many difficulties. And even though life began for me 46+ years ago, I was living it like others wanted me to. I was living my life by default. So I’ve decided it’s time to begin my life again.

There are times in life when emptiness is all you know and you get to a point where you wonder if you are still alive. It’s a numbness which is paralyzing and caring about anything is difficult. You go through the motions, but it’s a prison sentence within your mind — and you believe it’s for life when you are in that moment.

But there are also times in life where everything is so good you wonder whether it’s real. Life seems to go exactly the way you want it to — and nothing could keep you from coming down from that feeling. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. You are happy.

Yet, many of us are just waiting for something bad to happen because we’ve learned that it never lasts. And when we do that, we fail to just be in the moment and enjoy that happiness.

I think maybe I’ve always been afraid of being happy — because I knew it wouldn’t last. So why even attempt it? Why allow myself happiness when disappointment was always right around the corner? I knew, just knew, the future held something bad.

But all it did was keep me from living the life I wanted. It kept me from designing my own life. So it’s time for me to begin making good things happen instead of waiting for bad things to happen.

What I’m learning is you have to design and define your life for yourself, not let life be designed and defined for you. Because if you don’t, your life will end up the default — which is living how everyone else does, not how you want.

Many of us have issues which keep us from living that designed life, too. We tell ourselves we aren’t _________ enough. Fill in the blank for whatever criticisms you have about yourself. I could fill several pages if I sat down and wrote out what I’m not enough of. But it would just be what I tell myself — because it’s not true. It’s my self-limiting beliefs, and it’s self-imposed. However, none of it is true. Neither are those blanks you fill in about yourself.

I have something in my life right now that, if I’m being honest, I’m scared about. I’m scared because I believe I will fuck it up — and I don’t want to. That’s what that default life has taught me. It’s taught me nothing good ever lasts and I can expect to be disappointed. But I’m done with that lesson. I will not let that fear keep me from being happy and in the moment. I will not let fear take away my vulnerability, and I will allow my armor I’ve built up to be taken off.

It’s okay to be scared — because that means you care about it, and those feelings are there for a reason. You can be scared all you want, but you have to do it anyway. That’s where growth comes from, and it’s how you become someone who doesn’t allow life to be defined for you.

You can wait your whole life wondering when your life will really begin. Or you can begin to make it happen on your own.

So it’s time to begin your life. By design, not by default.

Jeff Barton is a writer, ultra-runner, lover of books and zombies, a practitioner of positive thinking, and most importantly, a dad. Living and loving life one day at a time. You can find him at and


Image courtesy of Stefan Kunze.