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The dying never wish they lived for more tomorrows. They never wish they obsessed more over unimportant things or cared more about what other people thought of them.
Eventually you run out of tomorrows to live for and that’s when you realize all you had was now.
Eventually you spend all of your time catering to other people’s fleeting thoughts about you, only to realize you never actually thought about what you wanted to be.
Are you living for the next thing?
Is your life right now all about something that’s about to happen? Something that’s going to take place in the future? Are you waiting for something to complete, to start, to launch, to move, to quit, or to advance before you allow yourself to believe that life has started for you?
Three things to consider about living for the next thing:
- It might not happen.
- It might not turn out the way you hoped.
- It might be exactly what you hoped but you missed out on all the good in life before it.
Don’t Live for the Next Thing
Eventually you don’t have any tomorrows. When you live for the next thing, you simply build the habit of living for the next thing. You never actually experience any lasting satisfaction when you get there. You’ve just exercised the muscle of living for the next thing. That means once you’ve made it, you have no practice in:
- Appreciating what you have now.
- Appreciating where you are now.
- Appreciating your accomplishments now.
- Appreciating your circumstances now.
All you know is living for the next thing and so you will find a replacement. You’re going to find something else. It’s a never ending cycle and you will never be satisfied.
Choose to See the Pros of Now
There are pros and cons to every situation. Yes, when you get to that place you want to be, there will be things you enjoy. There will be benefits you don’t have now. But there will also be more responsibilities. There will be more challenges.
Things will be better and they will be worse in different ways. If you look for the cons, you will find them. Why not look for the pros? Build the habit of finding things in the now to appreciate. Then when you make it to where you want to go, you will also appreciate it.
Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff
I know this sounds like strange advice to hear from someone who identifies as a chronic perfectionist. Those of us who are perfectionist and OCD want to believe the small stuff is super important.
It is and it isn’t.
It’s true, the details are what make something. The sum total of small things produce a result that is holistically greater than one that has no such details. However, there comes a time when you reach a point of diminishing returns. Eventually this obsession is downright wasteful of time and resources. It takes an objective maturity to know when that line is crossed.
Projects aside though—in the grand scheme of things when you look back—the small stuff is not what’s important. Things like what car you drive, what parties you go to, what cool tech gear you have, and whether you own the newest version of whatever cutting edge electronic device comes out…
None of that will go on your tombstone.
Long-Term Satisfaction Over Short Term Gratification
Am I saying it’s not ok to indulge every once in awhile? Of course not.
I’m saying, “What are you living for?”
There’s nothing wrong with Netflix or Super Smash Brothers on your 3DS connected to Wii U 8-person local multiplayer, but are you living for it? What if you spent that time investing in longer term satisfaction rather than short term gratification?
It’s the difference between daily time-sinks and occasional timeshares.
It’s having the opportunity for calculated travel over constant Twitter.
It’s having the chance to go somewhere interesting instead of endless-scroll Pinteresting.
Ok, that’s some fun wordplay, but those aren’t just dreams. Those are realities for people who prioritize long-term satisfaction over short term gratification. It’s the difference between living within your means and using debt to fuel the life you think you should have now.
Are you humble enough to downsize your life if that’s what’s required? Making payments does not mean you’re living within your means. It simply means you’re allowed to continue living outside your means. I’m getting real here, I know, but the path to living the life of long-term satisfaction you want isn’t by living outside of your means now.
Don’t worry about the Jones’. Don’t worry about other people. Don’t compare others’ accomplishments to your own. Be willing to give up the facade of the life you think you should have now or the life you want others to perceive you having in exchange for the one you’re building for your future.
Don’t Care About What Other People Think
I’m serious, don’t care what other people think–especially your family. I know that sounds terrible and I know they mean well, but they can potentially hold you back the most. It’s easier to dismiss the thoughts of someone you don’t care about and who doesn’t care about you, but you have more emotional ties to your family.
In most cases, your family cares about you and wants the best for you. They want you to do well and they certainly don’t wish harm upon you. Harm is the opposite of safety. Therefore, the advice given to you will be around their idea of safety.
Most of the greatest things in life require risk.
Risk is the potential for harm, but it’s also the potential for great achievement. Love, business, exploration, science—all of the worthwhile things in life require risk!
Yes, the obvious advice is: “Don’t care about what other people think.” No one is on their death bed wishing they cared more about what other people thought about them.
The #1 thing they wish is that they lived a life truer to themselves.
The less obvious implication is that the same holds true when it comes to your family. Not everyone is blessed with a supportive family. Not everyone has people who will believe in them.
I get a lot of people writing in saying they don’t have the support of their family. Their family doesn’t believe in them. They think they’re being unwise trying to make their own path instead of following the tried and true 9-to-5 grind. They say they’re not being rational.
I’m pretty fired up on this topic, but I want to go a lot deeper on this topic and hit some different angles of this so I decided to wait until next episode. Ben rejoins me on Friday for a show called: Screw Being “Rational.”