We spend a vast majority of our time on this planet trying to figure out what to do. We run around spending money we just made, often times at a job we don’t particularly enjoy, or at least not most of the time.
When we look at our life from a birds eye view, it becomes more obvious what we would “like” to be doing vs what we are actually doing. Of course life isn’t always about doing the fun things or being in some act of leisure 24/7. This would actually become boring after a while, turning into it’s own hell.
While conversing with people, I often notice that the amount of money you make doing something is typically without question regarded as the most important metric for justifying it in it’s entirety. You might be a lawyer or an accountant who makes tons of money but deep down inside you just can’t wait to go out on the boat with your wife and sail the gulf of Mexico or the in the Mediterranean sea.
Considering the decades of time living in a first world country, or anywhere after or during the industrial revolution, this has simply become the norm, the way things are. I have friends and family members who have graduated from college, some very prestigious colleges even, just to get a job making $45k a year making “branding videos” or jingles that play on the radio about toilet paper or Febreeze.
I’m not saying this is a terrible fate, quite frankly it sounds like a pretty good gig, but to think you indentured yourself to do something a kid in high school does in his free time seems a bit odd.
Eventually reality will set in, and our innate human instincts will begin to grow restless. Months or even years will go by in some cases before we wake up and wonder what the hell happened the past decade of our lives. We all strive for meaning, and fulfillment, but justifying to your family members and friends that your life is exactly where you want it to be because you make catchy slogans for Hot Pockets for a decent salary just seems the norm… like that’s what you’re supposed to do… right?
We will sit and do what we’re told thinking it will eventually bring us some sort of fulfillment in some way or another. Truth is there will never be enough money in the world to make you a happier person.
Understanding this truth about the human mind is very important. We are designed to do things, but these things don’t have to be great in the grand scheme of things, they can be fairly simple things, like reading books or teaching people, or just sailing or fishing just enough to feed your family and friends while you sip wine and play guitar in the evening. This begs the question – How do we create a process that will help us create a better lifestyle? How do we set the priorities up?
As you may already know, I’ve had many ideas over the years for different types of businesses and ways to make money. And we all do. I wrote previously on a way to help you focus on that one idea you think would be good when you have tons of other ideas.
But what makes something actually meaningful? It’s obviously not the amount of money it makes. Money, although important for having freedom in life, is not a very significant marker for determining how a certain thing will make us feel or determining the overall quality of life.
Below is a priorities list of the things we should take into consideration before we move forward on an idea/career/lifestyle. Hopefully these metrics will help you see more clearly on how a certain path in life may effect you, and those around you.
Personal Fulfillment: I’m sure you’ve heard things before like “follow your passion” or “do what makes you happy.” I’m not going to say those sayings are wrong, but they can be very misleading. I find personal fulfillment to be very important for deciding what you want to do. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose, or legendary. Often times, the most legendary and remarkable things in life started as something small. Like a guy who just wanted to make cakes for people.
The hard part about personal fulfillment is that most of what we want to do isn’t exactly something that easily brings us money or resources. It may be very enjoyable until you look at your bank account. It’s good to keep this in the back of our minds though.
Helping your friends or even random strangers get in shape can be massively fullfilling and has a good societal impact.
Throwing people under the bus so you can get a small raise in your salary next year really won’t bring you any personal fulfillment, but I think that’s too obvious. Yet I see people doing it all the time. Selling that sketchy stock to old man Bob over the phone so you can line your pockets with the trade commissions doesn’t do much good for anybody. This brings us to our next important point.
Societal Impact: In various studies it has been shown that Millennials have a strong desire to make a good impact on the environment. Whether that be economical, ecological or whatever, when asked from a list of things that are most important (money, vacation time, social impact) it seems fairly obvious that we will pick something that is good for the whole.
The second was money as the most important. And this is understandable, money is a powerful motivator behind why we do a vast majority of the things we do, like say working at a job 40 hours or more a week that we hate! Everybody wants money.
Societal impact is very important, especially for the long term well being of our existence. It is a shame the amount of time and money that is spent in spite of making the world a better place. There are big companies and forces that work every day to try and line their own pockets at the expense of humanity as a whole. I think it’s fair to say no one truly desires this as the outset of their goals in life, with the exception of a few truly evil people.
It’s important we ask ourselves if what we are doing is truly helpful to the whole of humanity. I’m not saying we all need to go join the Peace Corp or change your company to a non-profit (which need profits to survive anyway.) I’m glad to see more companies in the start-up world having a heavy focus on these things though.
Money: Last but certainly not least, money. At this point I probably sound like I’m contradicting myself but I’m not of course, and understanding that the day and age we live in today, money is a massively versatile resource. And let’s be honest, no one doesn’t want more money!
The important thing to note here is the order in which money comes into the priority list. It’s the last thing. But that doesn’t take away from it’s importance at all. We’ve all heard a million times before that “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The love of anything can be the root of all evil though, it is only the power we give these inanimate objects that makes them evil, despite it being us that enacts our own will upon the said item.
A fun thing to do is trying to find ways to monetize your passions. There are some great books out there that have given me tons of ideas on this. To name a few are The 4 hour Work Week, The Suitcase Entrepreneur, The $100 Startup and Side Hustle, and Rich 20 Something. I’ve read all these books, and there are many more, loaded full of resources and philosophies on living a life around your passion and desired lifestyle.
Personal Fulfillment ⇒ Societal Impact ⇒ Monetary Gain
Bonus tip. If you want a deep understanding of how people all around the world turn the most mundane tasks into enjoyable happy activities, you need to check the book Flow by a guy whose name I can’t pronounce. You’ll thank me later.