I think a lot about what an outsider would assume about me if they were to get a deep view of me. What would they think my priorities are? Would they think that I will succeed? Would they think I'm a good friend? When the answers to these hypothetical questions is out of line with what I want, I adjust. It's a little hack to get perspective.
Today I found myself asking when that hypothetical observer would assume I was optimizing my life for. Hmmmm...
I think that almost everyone optimizes for the very short term. One day. One week. A month. Maybe a year. Who is really doing things for five years from now? Any of us? The lady across the aisle from me on this plane is drinking a Pepsi Max, eating chocolate, and playing a game on her iPad. When is she optimizing for?
We were all alive in 2011, and back then it wasn't all that easy to imagine 2016. Abstractly we could, but who among us could really feel what it would be like to be alive now?
How many of our actions in 2011 are helping us now? I moved to San Francisco and made some lifelong friends then, so that was good. I learned some skills I still use. So in some ways I optimized. But I also spent a lot of time entertaining myself and engaging in frivolity.
When I think about my needs and wants and goals, this year seems very important. I have revenue goals, personal goals, fitness goals. When I think about 2021, my general thought is, "Yeah, everything will probably work out..."
What would happen if we all just decided that we were going to reallocate time and focus to making our lives in 2021 excellent, at the cost of the next five years? I'm not saying to do it-- just to think about it and evaluate it for yourself.
I've been thinking about it and making some changes.
I've doubled back down on fitness because it occurred to me that now is when it will be easiest for me to get into peak shape. The tradeoff is a little bit of comfort (working out) and some culinary pleasure (which I'm averse to anyway). That shift had me doing multiple workouts in a day while on a recent cruise, something I've never done before.
I'm taking work much more seriously and trying to grow my business. I'm not looking for a quick boost, I'm looking to invest in systems and technology to build it up so that it's a big success in five years.
I'm continuing to be very intentional about who I spend time with, going way out of my way to deepen relationships that are important to me, and paring down time spent with people who are great people but may not be important relationships in five years (side note to friends: that probably isn't you. I've also just not had enough time for my favorite people recently, which is part of why I'm making this change).
I'm putting time and money into assets that will open up options for me indefinitely, like the Island or building homebases around the world.
The ironic bit is that a lot of this is actually very pleasant in the short term. It's just not as easy as the alternative. I felt great working out on the ship and biking around Budapest this week and it made me want to be even more active. I love working on my business and planning long term. The time spent with my favorite people is some of my favorite time. And even if it's hard work, I love building up the island and navigating foreign real estate markets.
I try not to rally troops to action because my whole blog is about people making their own decisions. Every week I just want to write the same one sentence post: "Think critically about everything and make your own decisions according to your own values!". But how cool would it be if some of us took this five year idea to heart and all of a sudden my readers had disproportionately awesome lives five years from now?
Photo is a cool little pool near Deak Ferenc Ter in Budapest where people sit and cool off their legs. I'm really in love with Budapest these days.
If you're in Budapest and want to meet, let's do it next week. I'm free the 7th-16th or so. If you've already emailed me, I'll be getting back to you soon. I've just been figuring out my schedule.
Great post. This is exactly how I've been thinking about my life. Do I want to be doing this activity 5 years from now? It helps me over look the short term pain of somethings and the short term benefits of others.
I really agonized over the purchase of my latest jacket. For about fifty dollars more, I could get a jacket that was .8 ounces lighter than the other one. It sounds crazy just writing that. In the end I found a deal to get that jacket for the same price, so I was spared the agony of having to make decision.
Managing every ounce in a backpack sounds ridiculous. I get it. It seems like obsession gone awry, excess for its own sake.
But a couple weeks ago, walking through Budapest, I decided to take my backpack with me for the day. I wasn't sure if I'd find some time to sit and do some work, and we were thinking of going to baths, where I'd prefer to have my own soaps. But, as it was our first day in a new city, there would be a lot of walking.
We barely took public transport, instead walking miles up and down streets, across bridges, and up a huge hill for the view. And, for maybe the first time, I realized that I didn't notice the weight of my bag at all. At nine pounds or so, it was so light that it didn't encumber me in any way.
I'm not sure what I'm more scared of, failure or success.
Failure, in my mind, would involve being judged by other people and being ostracized from those whose respect I crave. I fear failure because I want to be "cool," I want other people to be moved by the things I create. I am afraid that if I am not good enough in the eyes of those around me I will not be accepted as part of the pack.
Success is another story entirely. I fear success because, to be cliche, "with power comes responsibility." I fear that I will have some success, but I won't be strong enough to live up to the expectations I have set. I fear that if I realize my true potential, I will be locked into a path that I will be unable to break free from. I also fear that by being successful I would be ostracized as well. It seems so much more comfortable to just flow with the status quo, don't make any waves, and don't try to change anything.
Both of these fears, it seems, ultimately stem from the fear of judgement. I have no idea how to free myself from this. One way that I can work towards overcoming this fear, is to be mindful when I am judging myself or other people. If I can break my own habit of being judgmental, the fear will have less control over me.
In a few hours I'll be getting on my flight to Sweden! Regardless of my fears I am about to embark on a major life transition. Two months in Sweden, one month back in Arizona, and then return to Brooklyn to become a full-time student. I'm excited and nervous and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. After talking about the plans and goals I would like to accomplish while overseas, I've decided that perhaps they were a bit too ambitious. I want to set more attainable goals that will give me some leeway to make mistakes and improve. Rather than trying to meditate, exercise, and write every morning, and beatbox and freestyle every evening, I'll make it a goal to accomplish three of those five things, four days a week. Setting more achievable goals will help me to build successful momentum.