People all around you doing better than you financially. Maybe they have family connections that gave them an easier start. Maybe they focused more in school, or in work. Maybe they hate their lives or they’re in debt, or they are in a miserable marriage, or their kids are totally messed up, or they feel trapped, or maybe they’re blissfully happy without any troubles at all.
Maybe none of the above or all of it at different times.
There is a cognitive bias known as the Trait Ascription Bias that basically states that you see yourself as varying in personality, but you see others as being fairly consistent.
And so it’s easy to think that somebody has more consistent highs than you.
Or that they make better decisions.
This whole concept of better is tricky.
Especially if you haven’t decided what your values are, and if you spend little energy in living them.
But this post isn’t really about values, or doing more, it’s about doing less. In fact, it’s about doing nothing. Almost nothing.
It’s about doing one thing.
What if you were to just stop? If you were to quit your job, squat in your house as long as possible. Live off social services for a year, or be homeless, or something like it?
What if you were to work a simple job only one day a week and let that pay for your food for the rest of your week? And the rest of the time you worked on your music? Or your art? Or your book?
How bad would that be?
You’d probably miss your friends.
You’d miss going out.
Your family would worry about you.
Oh, you have kids? Well, they would be truly damaged from you taking such an abrupt change.
But what if? Let’s just pretend that you’re single, without any kids—and maybe you are.
Would the world end if your debts didn’t get paid?
Would the world end if you weren’t sure how you were going to get rent paid?
How much, really, do you need to make?
What do you really want to be doing with your life?
Why aren’t you doing it? What is keeping you from it?
I’m not talking about just taking a taste, I’m talking about the dream you so easily gave up little by little as the years passed by.
And now, what if you were to let go of every obligation that didn’t serve you, and instead give everything you’ve got to one singular objective.
How did you even get where you are?
Was it from concessions? Compromise? Did you want companionship and safety and a similar lifestyle to the one you’d been raised in?
And now that you have it, how is it working out for you?
Then again, what would go through your mind if you were living in a crappy apartment where you don’t feel safe and you haven’t been able to eat at a cool restaurant, well, ever, and you tell yourself you gave up a life of comfort for your music, but you wonder constantly if you’re making a mistake and if you should just grow up?
Perhaps life’s decisions are only appealing if you have other options to choose.
“Alone time,” is a luxury for those who are otherwise busy with work, family and friends. But if you’ve no one to easily spend an hour with on the phone or across a plate of fries, then alone becomes lonely.
And I suppose there are those who prefer it that way.
Perhaps that’s how the romanticized artist’s life feels.
And he who is trapped in the life he has built, full of family and obligations and work and the burdens that come with any measure of success—he is the one that feels the pangs of not having pursued a simpler, honester life.
There is a cognitive bias for wanting what you don’t have. And a stronger one for wanting what you can’t have.
So we live outside the life we have been dealt and the modifications we have crafted, and instead of appreciating just how amazing it is, and just how different it is from when we were children, we try to escape it, change it, do something different.
I say we, but I mean me.
But I’m afraid of not accomplishing the things I want to accomplish in this life. Or at least the things I have told myself I would like to accomplish.
And then I look at all the years that have passed and I see all the opportunities I had, but didn’t see them as opportunities, and I get discouraged. I think, if I haven’t done this by now, and I had it much easier then, how am I possibly going to do it now?
It’s a valid question.
But today is not yesterday. There are a million reasons that things were harder back then and those reasons don’t have to carry so much weight today.
The time to change is now.
It doesn’t matter that you’re too old.
Or too young.
Or too old and inexperienced.
…and unattractive, unskilled, slow, loosely motivated, and too distracted to finish reading this article.
It. Doesn’t. Matter.
What matters is that you are alive today. And you have the choice to make something different of it. Or to dive deeper in a path that can lead to the great contribution you want to make to the world. Even if the world never finds out about it.
And if you don’t do that one thing you want to do, or those many things, then when are you going to do them?
Me? I’m going to steal a little time from my reactionary schedule of obligation and write a too-long article of runaway thoughts, and then post it on my blog.
And in my soul, I’ll feel my inner hero take one more chip at sculpting the man he and I used to dream of becoming.