If you are anything like me, then yes, life is flying by too fast.
And if you are like me, you put your head down and started grinding in your 20s and early 30s. You made plenty of money and achieved great success.
You work hard, and you are climbing your personal career ladder.
My ladder was running and growing my startup from 3 people to 50+.
It was great.
It was busy.
It was tiring.
It was my dream.
But what if the dream you are chasing is a lie and or a scam?
Unfortunately, society teaches us that being rich is about the stuff that you own. This leads to a mindset where you make money to buy stuff you can’t afford. Get promotions. Buy more stuff you can’t afford. And the cycle repeats. This is the “rat race.”Being Rich: The American Dream or a Paradoxical Scam? – Jeff Fang @ Financial Pupil
The reason that I started my own business and pursued entrepreneurship, was because I wanted to avoid the “rat race” at all costs.
Yet I woke up one day, realizing that even though I was a CEO and “in charge,” that I was indeed in the rat race. The one thing that I had tried my whole career to avoid had gotten ahold of me.
And I needed to do something about it.
Don’t be Nate
The other day, my wife and I were watching one of our favorite TV shows from The History Channel called Alone. The premise is this:
Ten people try to survive as long as they can in the [..] wilderness, carrying only what can fit in a backpack. Alone in harsh, unforgiving terrain, these men [and women] must hunt, build shelters and fend off predators, all while documenting the experience themselves.Alone storyline by Gpailkids
While I enjoy nature and camping every now again, Alone has taught me much about outdoor survival, mental perseverance, money, motivations, and human nature. It is basically a real-life version of Survivor.
And there may be nothing more powerful than the type of mental transformations that you see on this show. It really is fascinating in many different ways.
Contestants think they are on the show for the money, but most leave on their own merit when they realize that money was never the answer to their problems.
So anyways, we were watching Alone, and one of the contestants who opted to push the yellow button to get pulled from the show, said something to the the effect of…
I felt sad for Nate. This is a 47 year-old man, married, with kids, who survived in the wilderness for 30+ days, but who was ultimately a lost soul.
His life was flying by too fast.
So fast, that he was 47 and hadn’t actually taken the time to purposefully process his life.
He hadn’t taken the time to think it through and make sure that he wasn’t wasting his most precious resource…time!
I was a Nate, up until a few years ago
But it’s not just Nate who was zombieing through life.
I was pursuing my passion and I was running my own business.
I was making good money while I was also building my family.
I was doing everything I wanted to do in my life (or so I thought).
But I wasn’t going inward.
I wasn’t checking in with myself.
And I was working off of plans that I had made years in advance, without doing any type of useful check-in.
I woke up one day and realized that I was coasting through life. And I am not one to let that go unchecked for too long.
I realized that work-wise I needed to learn some real management skills to continue to grow with my company. I needed to requalify myself for my job.
I started reading more leadership and business books again, listening to more podcasts, and started carving out more quiet thinking/strategy time in my work week.
Instead of coasting through life, I was starting to be an active participant again.
Capitalism’s obsession with growth
I should mention that I was not working 40 hours a week.
I wasn’t busy working myself to death.
I was also doing a pretty good job at work, even despite the coasting. We were achieving 20-30% year-over-year growth. Things were good.
But I wasn’t stopping to be in the present. I was always looking to the future. Next week. Next month. Next year.
And this it turns out is inherently the problem with capitalism.
In business, the present almost doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is future growth.
You are on a hedonic treadmill of sorts in which you are constantly trying to best your last efforts.
You do this by taking calculated risks, by planning, and iterating through trial and error.
But how often do you ever sit back and say “Today, I’ve done enough work. I’m going home.”
Or “I’m going to have fun in this meeting, let my staff off early and enjoy today.”
The reality is those days were mostly nonexistent.
There is always more money to be made. More investors to please. More. More. More.
So the answer to the above question is yes, your life is going by too fast and you’re not doing enough to slow it down.
Sure, we can blame capitalism, we can blame society, or our upbringing.
But ultimately, it is up to each of us to find our own purpose in life.
How to be more purposeful in life…
I realized that I needed to stop and be more purposeful with my life.
I spent a couple of years working on myself as a CEO, as a husband, and as a father.
But I also realized that the only real way for me to live a more purposeful life was to get out of my current rat race.
I stewed on it for nearly two years before I decided to take my opportunity to engineer my exit.
This is not the type of decision you make on a whim. And this is not the type of decision you can make without being secure with F-you money.
You don’t have to leave your job like me.
But there are somethings that you can do to help slow it all down and build in those moments:
- create life mantras and set goals
- journal every day
- ensure you are sleeping 7-9 hours per night
- requalify yourself for your job every year.
- make sure to get an hour to yourself once a week
- go on a hike
- take a bath
- watch a tv show only you like
- if you have dreamed of something such as starting your own blog or writing a book, start right now, and don’t stop.
- plan your path to financial independence
- use all of your vacation, and don’t work on vacation
- meditate (I don’t do it regularly, but I try to be more mindful in general)
- track your happiness
Those are some of the things that I currently do to slow it all down. To be present. To keep my life on the right track.
Figure out what works for you to slow your life down.
Life flies by too fast, and can end too abruptly to coast through it.
Stop coasting. Start living. You got this.
Very true! Too often, we just rush through the motions and forget to take a deep breath and take it all inn.
An older couple in Venice told us to take our time and smell the roses when we visited. We must have seemed like in a rush.
Oh yeah, you gotta listen to your elders. Their sage advice is usually spot on.
Now we get comments from folks in their 50s or 60s telling us to enjoy the moment, because our kids are only young once. I try to, I really try to, but it is also exhausting!
This is exactly what I needed to hear, AR – thank you. I really appreciated your bulleted list of ideas to slow down life. Sleep is one of the most underrated aspects of life. A good night’s rest and laughter are the 2 things to solve any bad day!
Boom! Glad you liked it. Yeah, I find that almost 9 times out of 10 if I am having a bad day, it likely is due to my sleep…which leads to a headache, which leads to feeling generally crappy mentally and physically. So anyways, before fixing anything else, you gotta try to fix that!
Just finishing up Sapiens–very thought-provoking book. I thought it leapt out of the gates and was going to be one of my favorite books ever, but it got a little slow for my dumb brain at times. Overall, mostly compelling and informative. The quotes you’ve selected are great snippets!
Glad you liked it! I think that is a good assessment of how I felt as well. Now I need to go back and read my quotes. heh.
This is a great post and one the most relevant to me.
I always knew that I had a health problem. However, I always put it off till later “when I have more time to focus my attention on it”. It was only recently after 10 years did I finally take care of my health problem (I was overdrinking, not alcohol but water).
My happiness level SKYROCKETED in the past 2 weeks and I can’t wait to experience the rest of my life now.
PTO days don’t really feel like enough. We need to make it much more common for employees to take sabbaticals, even if unpaid. People aren’t created to be on 24/7.
Hey David – we need to unpack this. I saw your tweet, but I thought you were joking!
How much water were you drinking and what kind of problems was it causing?
Glad your happiness levels have shot up though!
A lot of people told me the same thing, including my friends. I wasn’t joking at all, haha. I deliver messages in a very logical, emotionless, and dispassionate way and that causes people to think that I’m joking. I actually think I would have died without healthy kidneys due to hyponatremia.
Average day was 2 gallons. On a really bad day, I drank close to 4 gallons. My heart started thumping and it made me actually feel like the water was weighing down on my life. When I felt like I was being weighed down by something, I started feeling red hot rage (not exaggerating) and was unable to control my emotions.
I always knew some external factors were making me feel this way but I never had the time to get around to find out and pinpoint what it actually was. Really glad I figured it out.
David – so happy you figured this out! I am kinda shocked that drinking water would do that — I always figured that your body would help take care of it, but clearly that is not the case! Really happy you figured this out and yet another reason not let your life fly by. If you have a gut feeling about something or your body isn’t quite right, it needs investigating.