As I close in on fifty this year, I have spent more time reflecting on my life lately. Consider it a halftime review of things so far, and I am coming out in the second half having made adjustments to make putting more points on the board easier. I have a bunch of things I wish I would have done differently, but that is true of everyone. What I am trying my best to avoid is the thing that most people never consider until it is way too late: REGRET. Most of the people near the end of their life (regardless of their age) will share with you something they wish they would have done in their lifetime. This can range from wanting to climb Mt Everest to asking out someone in college that ended up marrying someone else. Personally, I have zero interest in climbing Mt Everest; it is an expensive and time-consuming process, not to mention the fact that I hate being in the cold. I am sure I could spend the hundred thousand dollars that endeavor would cost in a bunch of other ways. I don’t need the selfie from the top to prove I was there.
Mt. Everest can take on many forms in someone’s life. My personal version was the pursuit of being a Pro Racquetball Player. It was a long, arduous journey that did cost a bunch of money and took a lot of time. My base camp was Phoenix, and I ventured off frequently to other locations to test my mettle. I climbed the mountains and I looked around at the top once I got there. I may have fallen just short of the true summit, but I was within a couple of steps from the top. The line of people in front of me looked like some recent pictures of Mt Everest; I had 17 people standing between me and the highest point on the planet. Close enough in my book, as I hit my original target anyway.
As it should be, I have had many different challenges and targets of goals to aim at since then. My next “summit” I am going to do is Public Speaking. I have wanted to do this for a long time, and I waited longer than I probably should have to start. But then again, I am the sum total human being I am today because of all of the experiences I have had, and so maybe this was exactly the right time. But I know this, if I don’t do it, I will die with a ton of regret. I feel like I have the ability to help others by sharing some of my knowledge and experiences, and I do enjoy the spotlight as well. I have started the journey upwards, having booked my first paid speaking gig to start off the year. Not in need of oxygen just yet, but I am getting farther up the mountain step by step.
Personally, I have never had a huge desire to see the world, unless it involves fly fishing as a large part of the journey. That is my biggest passion in life, and my lifestyle goals are to facilitate more fly fishing. Not drive a brand new Toyota 4Runner that I would love to have, or to move to a house on a hill that has more rooms than we would ever use. Neither of these things help me get more fly fishing done. In fact, they make it DIFFICULT to do more fishing, as these examples both drain a lot of money out of the bank account. An inner desire to impress people with possessions will diametrically oppose the real things I want to do and the things that will have the most value to me. What I want is more time and more freedom to do what I wish. That is my definition of wealthy. I have finally reached the point in my life where outward trappings of wealth are of little interest to me.
To quote yet another line from the movie Fight Club:
“We’ve all been raised on television to believe we are going to become millionaires, movie Gods and rock stars. But we won’t. And we are slowly learning that fact, and we are very, very pissed off.”
If you had it in your mind that you were going to be a millionaire, maybe you need to ask why that is? What is it about being a millionaire that is so appealing? If you remove winning the lottery or inheriting a chunk of money, there is typically a ton of work that goes into building and maintaining a business that earns you a million dollars. Does working 80 hours+ a week as a means to that end really get you what you want? In our world today we spend so much time worrying about what others think and do, we forget to really look inward at what WE want. Are you really one of the very small percentage of people who thrives on being a workaholic? money that is the appeal? What do those trappings of excess do for you once you have them? Is getting a second glance from someone at a stoplight THAT important to you?
I highly encourage you to really take a look at what YOU want. I know several unhappy millionaires who work way too much, never spend time with their family, and are broke at a higher level as they continue to spend all they earn and then some. I know several people living their best life working 30 hours a week and coaching their kid’s soccer team. Forget what you think others think you should want, do you. On your deathbed, you’ll likely be much happier being able to say “Remember when we did…that was amazing.” The Mercedes sitting in your driveway isn’t going to have nearly the impact that spending that same money on a family trip or sending kids to college would provide to you. The time you spent with the grandkids, the trip you and your wife took before she was too sick to travel any more, these are the kind of things that have value to you at the end of the road. Think about it now and adjust accordingly.
The second half kickoff is right around the corner, so make your halftime adjustments, grab your helmet, and hit the field with your new game plan.