A few nights ago I was having dinner with a few friends and we go into a discussion about unconventional living. One of my friends said something to me that really stuck in my mind. He said “why not wait 5-7 years, establish yourself, and then do your own thing?” My reply was that you could do it along side your corporate job.
What resulted was an interesting discussion about time. Both of my friends said that by the time they got from home work, they just didn’t have the energy to put in one hour a day into a passion project. I’m sure my friends work longer hours than I do so I can’t blame them for feeling the way they do. But I also think that what they might be overlooking is the fact that our short term actions have long term consequences. In fact I think the long term consequence for not taking control of your life now is giving control of your financial future to your employer. If you ask me that’s a damn steep price to pay when you compare it to one hour a day.
Time is Our Most Precious Asset
While waiting 5-7 years might be not be completely flawed, the one thing that I started to realize was that time is the only asset you can’t create more of. A few days ago my friend and I were talking about our dream surf trips and one thing became very apparent. While you might say “better late than never”, given the physical demands of such an undertaking, it’s unlikely that I’m going to be just as physically able to take a 1 year surf sabbatical at the age of 60. That’s just nature at work.
But more importantly, let’s take a look at how this idea of short term actions and their long term consequences can play out in our lives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for living in the present moment and I do believe that our past doesn’t equal our future. However, I do also believe that we are creating our future in the present moment with our actions. Ironically putting off the life of your dreams actually disconnects you from the present because in the back of your mind you’re always living in some distant future. As Tony Robbins so eloquently put it “The Road to Some Day Leads to Nowhere”
Health/Fitness: Health is one of the best examples of this. Take a look at a habit like smoking. I’m not trying to pick on those of you who smoke. It just happens to serve as a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Smoking is something people do every single day in the present. However, over time the effects tend to be detrimental. Just a few cigarettes a day added up over a few decades ends up in the long term consequences of death, severe pain, cancer, and a number of other horrible things.
Exercise: I’m guessing there are a handful of you who don’t exercise everyday. If the surf is good I exercise everyday. But that’s not the point. Sit around without moving very much over a long enough period of time and it will catch up with you. This is not about being overweight or underweight. It’s just about a health habit where your short term actions have long term consequences.
Money: Money is a subject that gets most of us pretty emotional and rattled up, especially if it’s kind of an issue in our lives. In my early 20’s I made some very foolish decisions about money. Anytime I found myself with larger sums of money than I had on a regular basis (i.e. sales bonuses, tax returns, etc, etc) I had this overwhelming need to buy shit. Most of the things I bought are probably sitting in a landfill somewhere. Most of this excessive spending took place when I was between 25-27. It took 6 years but it came back to bite me in the ass when I finished business school. One month after business school I found myself literally broke. Even the smallest bit of consideration for my future might have saved me quite a bit of hell.
Goals/Accomplishments: I’m happy to talk about this because it’s a bit more uplifting and positive. In fact that’s why I put it last. You’ve heard from everybody in the Blogosphere that it takes a couple hundred days to become and overnight success. Let’s look at this in the context of a some different things
- Surfing: I thought the day that I would be able to catch a wave on a shortboard would never come. In fact I used to watch those guys and think “damn, that looks impossible.” But my borderline personality disorder or love affair with the ocean (whichever you want to label it) and surfing nearly every day had a payoff. A few days ago I got on a shortboard and it was nowhere near the struggle I thought it would be.
- Blogging: When you think about your blog and everything you are doing with it, focus on today. However you should know that doing nothing also creates a future of nothing. I’ve seen blogs abandoned like digital graveyards and it’s a sad site to see especially when it seemed that somebody had potential to really make something of themselves. Most of the success stories you see are people who chipped away at a goal every single day. I still find myself chipping away at it every single day. I don’t see that ending anytime soon, even if “make it.” Once you’ve “made it” you have a standard to live up to and that’s something you work on every day.
Don’t underestimate the power of taking one step everyday in the direction of a dream. It beats the hell out of getting to the end of the road and realizing that you didn’t live up to your full potential.