Lately, I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people who are at an inflection point.
They are usually stressed, or anxious, which I totally get. Been there. Am there.
There’s a lot of pressure we put on ourselves for picking the right path. For making the best choice.
But what does that really mean?
Best is a relative term. Nashville is probably the best place for you to try and make a living as a musician — unless you have family in Austin. Or unless you want to keep your full time job in Cleveland.
“Best” is dependent on the variables you are really, truly considering in your decision.
What are you trying to optimize for in this decision? Learning? Earning? Enjoyment?
Then, think about what your days look like.
We don’t live our title. A title sounds sweet, and could lead to a bigger title, but what does that mean for the actual minutes, hours, days, and weeks that you exist on this planet?
A sweet title makes for a fun social media “official” announcement…but how long does that high last?
A sweet title doesn’t get you out of bed.
A sweet title doesn’t inspire you to do your best work.
The result of “success” shouldn’t be less time to do what you love.
Enjoying your life — enjoying the actual act of living and moving through your day — is what really matters.
When you’re making a decision, what are the implications of the choices on what your days look like?
What do your days look like 10 years from now?
I look for days that allow me time and space to disappear. I’m not accountable to be anywhere at any given time. I want to spend more time writing, interviewing, and making things. In the next five years, I want to be spending the majority of my time researching and writing books.
And for me, I like that my weekends look like my weeks, just a little quieter. Typically, I’m doing the same things, have the same flexibility, and am excited to dig into my work.
It doesn’t come with a sweet title. It doesn’t come with a dump truck full of money. But it’s an enjoyable ride and it feels directionally correct. So I’m excited to keep walking the path.
The businessman and the fisherman
There was once a businessman who was sitting by the beach in a small Brazilian village.
As he sat, he saw a Brazilian fisherman rowing a small boat towards the shore having caught quite few big fish.
The businessman was impressed and asked the fisherman, “How long does it take you to catch so many fish?”
The fisherman replied, “Oh, just a short while.”
“Then why don’t you stay longer at sea and catch even more?” The businessman was astonished.
“This is enough to feed my whole family,” the fisherman said.
The businessman then asked, “So, what do you do for the rest of the day?”
The fisherman replied, “Well, I usually wake up early in the morning, go out to sea and catch a few fish, then go back and play with my kids. In the afternoon, I take a nap with my wife, and evening comes, I join my buddies in the village for a drink — we play guitar, sing and dance throughout the night.”
The businessman offered a suggestion to the fisherman. “I have a graduate degree in business. I could help you to become a more successful person. From now on, you should spend more time at sea and try to catch as many fish as possible. When you have saved enough money, you could buy a bigger boat and catch even more fish. Soon you will be able to afford to buy more boats, set up your own company, your own production plant for canned food and distribution network. By then, you will have moved out of this village and to Sao Paulo, where you can set up HQ to manage your other branches.”
The fisherman continues, “And after that?”
The businessman laughs heartily, “After that, you can live like a king in your own house, and when the time is right, you can go public and float your shares in the Stock Exchange, and you will be rich.”
The fisherman asks, “And after that?”
The businessman says, “After that, you can finally retire, you can move to a house by the fishing village, wake up early in the morning, catch a few fish, then return home to play with kids, have a nice afternoon nap with your wife, and when evening comes, you can join your buddies for a drink, play the guitar, sing and dance throughout the night!”
The fisherman was puzzled, “Isn’t that what I am doing now?”