It’s ok, to not always delay.
We live in a culture that is constantly saying “in so many years, you’ll be able to do this”.
Whether it is going to college for 4 years and then being able to work in your dream job, stick out that job for 10 years so you can be promoted to what you really want to do, or save your whole life so you can do what you want in retirement, the list of reasons we delay never ends.
You hear it all the time in the media we consume as well… “Save, save, save”.
“Save a minimum of x% into your retirement”. “Don’t waste money on Starbucks or dining out”. It isn’t to say these are bad pieces of advice, but there needs to be a middle ground. Saving is great, but we should be able to enjoy life, while taking care of tomorrow.
Care for tomorrow isn’t going to be a static prescription either. It will change over the course of your life, and navigating those changes will allow for the most to be made of today in the meantime.
Before we dive into this article about why it’s ok to not always delay, I want to share that saving and having a plan for what you will need in the future is important. But… it isn’t the end-all, be-all.
Finding harmony in life today, while taking care of your future self is exactly what I do when working with my clients (hence the name of my firm) and a huge driver of why I love my job. The equation will never be the same for two clients, and I want to share more about that in this blog post.
We are all individuals:
This is something we all obviously know, but I want to expand upon this idea. As we have launched into the digital age, we are now bombarded with algorithms and data-driven content that will only further increase our belief of what is presented to us.
This can make change or even truly knowing yourself, incredibly difficult.
One single click can send you dozens of articles or ads telling you what you are doing is wrong. The people behind these algorithms are not going to know your full story, rather they will know enough about you to put you into a category of targeted content.
This creates a problem, because you are being put into a category based on being similar enough, so they can drive the most engagement possible.
With this being said, it can be really hard to know if what you are reading actually applies to your situation, and information overload is often the next step in this process.
We have quickly transitioned into a new era of what “valuable” information really is. This was a thought I had last week, and it sparked a few really great conversations with people I have a ton of respect for in the work they are doing.
What may be a good idea for the majority of the audience they are targeting, may not be a good idea for you, or there is a strong chance it may not be remotely close to what you need to be happy in your life. The same is true when receiving advice from friends, family, or even your closest colleagues.
We are all operating on different past experiences, and what works (or worked) for one person, won’t necessarily work for you. Many of us have had different experiences with our health, our current or past working experiences, or just what we have seen happen to others (good or bad) in our social circles.
These all play a factor in your definition of harmony. In order to find yours and be 100% in on the decisions you make, you need to look inwards, not at the person next to you or your cellphone feed.
Last year was a really great example of this. When we weren’t able to go out and do the things we normally do, we all missed very different things.
Some of you probably missed going to restaurants or movies, others missed their travel and vacations, and I am sure some of you missed sporting events or concerts, too. Even though we could do these things in some way, shape, or form, we each probably had the “it just isn’t the same” thought running through our head, to different degrees for different things.
I for one really missed being able to go to baseball games in the summer, but really could care less about going to a movie theater ever again. Well, except for some delicious popcorn, but that’s about it.
So, what exactly does this have to do with delaying?
Delaying + No Expectations = Harmony
Delaying our dreams with the hopes of receiving them in the future is a ticking timebomb for disappointment and regret.
“I can’t wait to take that dream trip when I retire” can quickly turn into “I spent my whole life saving, and now I am unable to travel due to health” in the blink of an eye.
We can’t predict our future health and these days we can’t even predict if we will even be allowed to travel in the next 12 months, let alone 20-40 years from now.
When we go into any pursuit with overly specific expectations, we now have what most people would call a desire. There is nothing wrong with healthy desire, but putting “make or break” labels on goals or hopes can be incredibly dangerous to the ability to have a life well-lived.
I loved this quote from a book I read with some friends last year. The book is called The Almanack of Naval Ravikant. Naval is a world-class entrepreneur, and while he didn’t write the book, it captures many of the ideas and philosophies he has used to carve his path to happiness. I highly recommend it!
The quote is: “Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want”.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. It is something I try to work on each and every day through meditation and quiet time, and by saying “when I have x,y,z, I’ll do…” less as I share my goals with others.
If I really want to do something, I should be able to just do it now. It almost always involves making some choices and changes, but it isn’t too hard to find one or two things I am willing to get rid of.
Getting to the root of why I want to do something, also helps me make sure I am not blindly pursuing a new adventure for the wrong reason, a topic I could write a whole blog post about. If you know why or why not and address the issues before making a change, it is a lot easier to clean out high expectations.
The same is true of that dream trip, or whatever else you need to do in order to live a fulfilled life. Again, this isn’t saying “YOLO” and putting all of that trip on a credit card you can’t pay off, but maybe it does mean adjusting the other pieces of your financial life to allow for that trip to happen sooner.
Making wise decisions usually means we aren’t trying to get somewhere faster than we ought to, or escape from something we don’t enjoy. It means doing it because we actually want to do it. And if we actually want to do it, we will be able to allow other things we may not want to do to drop out of our lives.
When we are young, we typically have our time and health, but very little money.
When we are old, we typically have money, but very little health or time remaining.
If we don’t actually want to save money for that trip 20-40 years from now, but instead want to take it in 3-5 years, saving money is going to be a miserable experience for your entire working life. Going back to the example, if we save money for that long, and then can’t even take the trip…. we now have even more regret.
The same can be true with taking a step back in your career to find a better work-life balance, or working in a field you will truly find joy in. The equation will change, but having a plan and knowing what will need to change can help you make a well-informed decision.
Of course, you should consult with your financial professional before doing anything which could negatively impact your financial well-being.
I love this graph which makes it a very simple concept to understand what we are working against.
If what you are pursuing isn’t something you want to subject to the chances of not being able to do for an unforeseen reason, it’s a clear sign to dig deeper and figure out how to get there sooner.
Whether we like to admit it or not, we all know nothing is a guarantee.
This is something I love to work through with all my clients, and I hope it is a question you can think about as you go through your week.
“What do I feel I am missing out on?”
If you can honestly answer that question with “nothing”, congrats, you’re there! I’d love to hear about your journey there, and may even feature you on an episode of my soon-to-be-announced podcast coming out later this winter.
You can reach out to me via email with the subject line “Podcast” to share your story. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the flip side, if you do have a different answer to that question, look at the areas of your life you may feel are causing you to miss out. It’s a great place to start, and I bet you’ll find a thing or two which may be easy enough to get rid of and get headed in the right direction.
If you’re anything like me, you might find what you originally thought was the problem to not be the problem at all. It’s usually a lot simpler of a fix than I originally thought.
Working through finding your harmony is an ever-evolving process, not an event. Finding a group of people and professionals to surround yourself with can make the process a much more enjoyable one.
If you have future ideas or requests for blog articles that could be helpful to you in finding your harmony, don’t be afraid to reach out.
Until next time, here’s to finding harmony.