I write and think a lot about carpe diem. In this time, I’ve noticed most people get stuck at the same points and go through similar setbacks when they’re trying to seize the day. It occurred to me that carpe diem is just a series of steps people pass through.
So in the spirit of Maslow’s hierarchy and Bloom’s taxonomy (no relation), I came up with a diagram explaining the key aspects of how carpe diem works. And I think when you look through the diagram yourself, you’ll realize, like most things, living life to the fullest is a process.
Explaining the Carpe Diem Diagram
I divided the diagram into four levels. These levels start with basic life necessities and move on to motivation and fear until it reaches the top level, carpe diem. The first three levels have to be overcome before you can actually move to the top. With this in mind, I want to proceed through each level to explain its significance.
Level 1 – Basic Life Necessities
There really isn’t a point in seizing the day if you don’t have a life to do it with. And that’s why this is the most basic level in the diagram. If you’re struggling to feed yourself or maintain a roof over your head, you have more pressing issues than carpe diem. These need to be met first before you can actually do anything else.
This also relates to money issues. If you have no money, you can’t take classes, travel, learn a new skill or a lot of other things. Only once these basic life necessities are taken care of can you move on to the next level.
Level 2 – Motivation
Just because someone is well-fed, has a place to stay and is financially secure doesn’t mean they automatically move to this level. In fact, many people are content to just to reach a comfortable stable lifestyle. They don’t have the motivation to break out of their comfort zone.
Someone has to be motivated to want to make the most out of their life. Of course, this doesn’t mean that someone just decides to “seize the day” in general. To be truly motivated, they need an idea to go with. This idea can be anything from starting up a business, living overseas or passionately pursuing their dreams.
When it comes to finding an idea for carpe diem, most people need a source of inspiration. Ideas generally don’t come out of nowhere so one of the most important aspects of anyone at this level is to look around and be active with the world. When someone is inspired by an idea to do something, their motivation comes naturally.
Level 3 – Fear
The next step beyond motivation is fear. Once you have your idea in place, you’ll often feel a strong negative response to it inside of yourself. The bigger the idea and the more it is outside your comfort zone, the bigger your fear for it will be.
Fear in this area takes many forms. It can come from negative self-beliefs such as when you tell yourself you “can’t do something” for some reason. Various other excuses such as “it’s not the right time” to do something are also found here.
Habits such as procrastination and laziness are also induced by fear. Similarly, just giving up can be caused by fear of failure or even fear of success. Basically, anything that stops you from doing what you want to do that doesn’t fall into the basic life necessities level is found here.
This is the area that stops most people from doing what they want. I think it’s not that people have dreams or goals in life, it is that they are too scared to take risks in getting there. It’s the last stage before carpe diem takes place because if you feel the fear, it means you’re close. After all, if you’re at the bottom of this diagram, you’re going to be too preoccupied with feeding yourself, not seizing the day.
Level 4 – Carpe Diem
Now that you’ve passed through all the other stages, carpe diem can begin. But getting here isn’t the end to the process. Any of the other lower rungs can still undermine this level. If you suddenly get into debt and risk losing your house, you probably won’t be thinking about things in this level. The same goes if you lose your motivation for it or fear turns up.
But for the most part, this is where you should aim for in life if you want it to be extraordinary. I think that some of the most interesting people I’ve known and read about have lived a large part of their life in this level.
An Example of the Diagram
To properly illustrate how this diagram works in real life, I’m going to use an example. Let’s say someone saved their money so they have enough to feed themselves and pay off all of their debt. Their basic necessities have all been taken care of.
Then they get inspiration from a movie to travel for a year around the world. They’re excited, but unsure about how to do it. Something inside of them is telling them they can’t do it. Their thoughts dwell on the negative outcomes of their travel plans.
Eventually, this person deals with their fears and goes ahead with the plan. They buy the plane ticket and make preparations to go. Unless their fear creeps back or the motivation from that movie dies down with time, this person will be doing something extraordinary.
I know the road to carpe diem can be difficult so I hope laying out the process like this can help some people make their lives better. Perhaps, I’ve shed some light on the path to living life to the fullest. Or maybe I’ve just pointed you in the right direction. Either way, you’re a little bit closer.