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.