16/11/2012 05:00 GMT | Updated 14/01/2013 05:12 GMT

The #YOLO State of Mind: How This Four-Letter Acronym Can Make You or Break You!

In this article I'm going to show you how the "YOLO" mind-set can not only get you killed, but can give you everything you have ever wanted. This mind-set continues to change my life for the better.

Every now and then, a bit of slang comes along that draws a line between young and old, in 2012, that slang term was "YOLO". For those of you who don't know; the term YOLO was popularised by US rapper Drake and it stands for "You Only Live Once". In his song "The Motto" he says "You only live once, that's the motto *****..YOLO". Teens instantly latched on to this acronym and it went viral; becoming the modern day "Carpe Diem" for young people worldwide. The word has been plastered on every kind of clothing item imaginable and Hollywood celebrity Zac Efron even had it tattooed to his hand!

However, the potentially positive message behind the "YOLO" state of mind has become somewhat of a joke, the expression is now used flippantly to justify and excuse being purposefully irresponsible. You only need to search the hashtag #YOLO on twitter to see what I'm talking about:


The sad story of 21-year-old Ervin McKinness really highlights this misinterpretation with cruel irony. McKinness, an aspiring musician from Southern California, tweeted the following before the vehicle he was in crashed into a wall killing him and 4 other 20-23-year-old passengers:


However, I believe that there is great truth to be found behind this expression. As far as any of us know, including those religious groups who may try and tell you otherwise, we only get one life. I believe if we can truly embrace this fact we will demand more from our lives. Furthermore, if we manage to acquire a greater appreciation for the value of time that this understanding may give us, we would most certainly at least attempt to chase our dreams, avoid grudges and we might truly begin to appreciate the miracle of our existence.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain

If people truly embraced the YOLO, mentality would they spend the majority of their adult life working for a boss they hate and doing a job they despise? Would they be satisfied by mediocrity? There are many things that people take to their graves for sentimental reasons; wedding rings, pictures of their family; Frank Sinatra famously took a flask of Jack Daniels to his. However, if there's one thing we should never wish to take to our grave, it's untapped potential, resentment for others and the regrets of all the things we could have attempted had fear of failure not disheartened us.

"You only live once, but if you play your cards right, once is enough" - Joe E. Lewis

Can you truly live life to the full within your comfort zone? Or is that just somewhere where the uninspired survive? I see life as a great gift and an even greater opportunity. I believe the phrase "Life is short" is not only false but it can also be a subjective notion. Even if we were all guaranteed to live to exactly the same age, I can foresee how some, at the end of their lives, through greater accomplishments and adventure, may perceive their lives to have felt 'longer' than others. This theory suggests that we can increase the apparent length of our life by adopting the positive aspects of the YOLO mentality; adventure, daring to dream and the consequential accomplishments.

Ask yourself this: If you knew you wouldn't fail in anything you tried (within reason), what would you try? Would you start your own company? Pursue a musical talent you have? Commit yourself to solve some of society's problems? Join the gym and get that six pack? Or go travelling around the world on your own?

Regardless of what your answer is, that is arguably what you should be aspiring to now. You have just proven to yourself that the only reason you're not actively pursuing it is because of your fear of failure: that is the only thing keeping you in shackles. Dream bigger. YOLO!

Tweet me your thoughts: @_SteveBartlett