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Selfishness

By on Nov 12, 2010 in Featured, Philosophical | 0 comments

During the book signing and meet-up with Chris Guillebeau at Sam Weller’s on Wednesday evening, one of the follow-up questions from the audience was what Chris, as well as audience members, found to be the biggest barriers to accomplishing goals. The first one mentioned was fear, which is the most obvious and most accurate for many people. But there are other reasons. Another person talked about finances and retirement, when incomes are fixed, health issues loom large and the desire to work long hours — even at something you love — is minimal. Other answers included fighting inertia, avoiding change (which is a form of fear), lack of passion or inexperience. I didn’t have an answer that evening that wasn’t already said by somebody, but as I thought more about my particular situation, I realized that for me it’s selfishness. It’s one thing to live the life I want when there is only I, and I have lived that life in the past. Now, my life is a WE: my wife, my child(ren) and me, and I wouldn’t ever want to go back the life of I. There are trade-offs, though, most importantly that I now want to live the lifeĀ  we want. If I simply did everything I wanted, it would almost certainly come at the detriment of the we. This is not a complaint, by the way. I love the we and what it means, including things that some people consider “burdens,” whether it be a mortgage, a full-time job or, yes, children. But it also means that while I could certainly see myself devoting 60 hours a week to writing and loving it — even if I only earned a few hundred dollars a month — the we would suffer greatly. Even if we didn’t suffer financially, the we would suffer from a lack of time with me. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live unconventionally. In fact, that is the primary goal for we, even if unconventional is done within the conventional world of mortgages, car loans and full-time employment with benefits. So, what might that involve? A few ideas: * Get out of debt and stay out of debt. Initially, that’s credit cards, but eventually would hopefully include everything, even the mortgage. * Travel for adventure, kids included. This could be a summer living in an RV or a sailboat. It could be a year in Europe. It could be anything that isn’t simply a 3-star hotel and chain restaurants. * Low-priority jobs. This doesn’t mean I want a mindless or meaningless job. It means that I/we are as picky as possible about stress levels, bosses, vacations and hours. In other words, jobs that don’t haunt my thoughts during my free time. * No cul-de-sacs. Instead, we live in places with character. In Salt Lake, that means our burgeoning urban farm. In a few years, maybe it means a high-rise condo in NYC, a boat house in Portland, a flat in London or a 5-story walk-up in Barcelona. * Multiple incomes. No, I don’t mean two incomes. I mean enough income from things we love — our chutney, brewing beer, freelance writing, whatever — that we can actually be picky about our full-time jobs. This goes hand-in-hand with debt free living, which will eventually equal savings. * Constant education: This goes for everyone. I hope that every trip we take teaches our children something about the world. That may be actual education (a trip to D.C.), it may show them different cultures or it may teach them more compassion. But I would hope my wife and I keep learning, whether it’s professional development, hobbies or simply expanding our world...