Moving Forward then Looking Backward

 

“You should call me beautiful,” Lindsay said with a smile, “you always used to call me that.”

“Yeah,” I replied, “back when I was in high school and I had zero responsibilities other than keeping my grades in the safe zone, writing you love notes, and lifting weights.” I shifted my gaze to the floor. “Now all I seem to focus on is making as much money as possible.”

Then I made a statement that she did not necessarily agree with, but I believe is true for most guys who are like me:

In high school we do nothing but look forward to what is next and how to get there.

In our adult life, once we have aged 10-12 years from graduating high school, we try to determine how to create the time we had in high school while maintaining the income we and our families have come to expect and need.

In high school I was hardly making any money. I always hustled at something, but the money was never in massive payouts. In high school I had a lot of time.

I was rich in time.

Fast forward 12 years since graduating and I hustle just as hard, make a lot more money, but have little to no time. Now I am rich in money, but poor in time.

Time is what we all want (ok, maybe not all of us, but a majority of us). A longer life, a longer day, a longer time having coffee chatting with someone special to us, more time to read that good book, etc.

More time.

And now, in our adult lives, the only way to create more time is to first create more money.

More money, if created wisely (i.e. in a way that is creating passive and residual income streams) will afford us the opportunity to spend our time the way we want to spend our time.

For me, this means looking backwards.

In high school, in my late teens, I feel and believe that I had hit the sweet spot in my personality, character, and being. Sure, there were some aspects that were off, and they were corrected, but, for the most part, my late teen years are years I long for.

Why?

Time.

I had time to create. To think. To read. To love. To write.

It was also a time of simplicity. A time where the K.I.S.S. principle was in full effect for me (Keep It Simple Stupid). And that KISS principle allowed my mind and body to be in a place of extreme vigor, to which I desperately want to return.

And that brings me to the simple and silly exchange I had with my wife at the top of this post.

I do need to call her beautiful more often (that’s what I called her in high school instead of using her name) and I certainly don’t need to wait until I have created more money to do so.

But the line of thinking, of stopping to think why I don’t call her beautiful more often, brought me full circle to what I have been working so hard to do for the past year and completely validated the time (and money) I am spending now so that I can have more time (and money) in the near future.

To be frank, I am trying to think of a take away for you, as the reader.

I don’t want to be one of those writers that only writes to self-examine, but I do think that there may be times when that is just as valuable as a more direct approach to writing directly to you.

Because at the end of the day, I write because I need to write. And I hope, that through my writing, you will find something of value that you can take away and use to make your life better, funnier, happier, or all of the above.

Question and Answer (in the comments)

Maybe I’ll just ask a question, and let the words above make the point, whether directly or indirectly. What is something you want more of in your life? And as a follow-up, what daily actions are you taking to achieve that?

Click the like button below if you enjoyed this, leave a comment if this inspired any thoughts, and certainly share if you think this would be enjoyed by someone you know.

But, most importantly, have an awesome day!

Bringing Back the Tangible Life

Apps. Phones. Computers. Tablets. Electronic books.

Computer in your pocket. Always having access to virtually unlimited knowledge (i.e. Google). Never getting lost. Never unavailable.

Always connected.

What do we end up with after living life like this for so many years? Nothing but digital records.

This is something I’m beginning to have a problem with.

We are living in a time where having control over technology isn’t even a thought. Instead, we always seem to be on the lookout for ways to have technology control us. I’m afraid we are beginning to lose touch with the Tangible Life.

More on this to come.

 

Urgency Reserved for Life and Death Situations

When I look back at decisions I have made, or a chain of decisions I made, and attempt to identify one thing that may have led me to make those decisions, I land on Urgency.

“We need this now!”

“We cannot wait any longer, we have to make a decision today.”

“I know we took four months to make a decision, but we need you to implement by tomorrow.”

Etc.

The three examples above are all real life examples that I have heard over and over again for the past three years and will continue to hear for as long as I allow them. Six months ago I would have bought into the Urgency projected and would have adjusted my schedule and done whatever I needed to do in order to meet this Urgent deadline. Today, I’ll respond with “Let me check my schedule.”

Times Square, New York City
This is what your life will feel like when you let other people make your decisions and control your schedule.

Six months ago this caused a lot of stress. I’d have to move one thing on my schedule which would effect another thing and another thing and another thing. This one Urgent decision, that I allowed and bought into, has effected a month’s worth of scheduling. All because I believe them when they say the words like “need,” “now,” “today,” “have to,” and “cannot wait.”

To please one person I had to displease another. And I was doing this because someone else told me it was “really important.”

Well, I’m happy to say that the veil has been lifted, my eyes have been opened, and/or I have finally arrived at a place in my adult life where I now know for a fact: unless someone is on the brink of life and death, nothing is as urgent as it may seem.

Quiet street along a river
This is what your life will feel like when you are in control of your decisions and you manage your schedule. Also, when you stop believing that everything is urgent.

Not only do the decisions I make today effect what I can or cannot do tomorrow, but I am the one who needs to live with the outcome of my decisions. Not the person who is trying to tell me how important it is that I do X right now. 

We all, and me especially, need to be a little less flexible, a little less urgent, a little more devoted to the things we plan to accomplish today, and a little more relaxed about all of that.

Just like saying No will irritate people, so will your refusal to buy the Urgent BS they are trying to sell you. It will get under their skin and bother them and cause them stress and sleepless nights. That is their problem. You will accomplish that day what you intended to accomplish and sleep like a baby that night. Do this today 🙂

Treat Other Humans Like Humans

I recently switched our mobile plan from AT&T to T-Mobile, for reasons that are related to the e-book I’m working on. At AT&T I had it running as a business account through my company and had the two cell-phones and one iPad Mini on the contract. These three items were costing a bit more than I could, or wanted to, manage in January, which is when I heard T-Mobile offering to pay ETFs if we would switch from one of their competitors to them.

Done.

Went online, did research on T-Mobile coverage in our area, looked at the devices they offer, compared cost of plans, and asked friends and family who used T-Mobile if they would recommend it. Long story super short, we ported over our two cell numbers to T-Mobile. This left AT&T with the iPad Mini.

Now. AT&T wanted to keep me as a customer. So they offered to give me a $120 credit to my account, and lower the iPad Mini’s data-plan to $20/mo (would end up paying $240 for the rest of the contract). Or I could just terminate the contract for $120. I’m one for simplicity, and having two carriers doesn’t seem to simple to me. I’ll take the ETF.

The heart of this story happens when I’m talking with the rep who is going to be processing my cancellation request.

“Any reason in particular you are closing the account?” he asked.

I always think long and hard about answering this honestly. I know his job is to keep me as a customer, no matter what he has to offer, so I’m sure if I tell him the real reason he’ll try to use it as leverage…but, maybe he won’t.

“Honestly, my business took a sharp nose dive at the end of last year. I’m cutting expenses and reducing expenses wherever possible. Got a FT job to get my head above water.”

“Oh man,” he said, “I’m really sorry to hear that. I know these are tough times for a lot of people, including myself, but that still doesn’t make it easy to hear stuff like that.”

I almost dropped the phone at how real his response was. Here we are, just two human beings, handling a transaction over the phone, and we are acting like normal human beings.  I could have given a very curt answer about why we are closing the account. He could have blown over my honest response entirely. Instead, I took a chance and was honest with the situation, and in reply he was honest with how much it sucks and that he was genuinely sorry to hear about my business.

Turns out he was going through a similar situation. He didn’t own a business, but he was let go from a job last year and had to find anything he could to keep things rolling. AT&T hired him on their customer support team, and there he is. Answering calls from 9-5, dealing with nice people and super mean people.

Before we ended the call he said, “Aaron, keep doing what you are doing. I hope things turn around for you this year.”

Seriously. Wild. Never in a million years do I expect that type of conversation when I’m canceling an account with a company.

Moral of the story is this: Treat other humans like humans. You don’t know what the people around you are going through in their life at the moment, so pay attention and treat them kindly. Do this today.

Do we live life forwards, but examine it backwards?

Soren Kierkegaard
Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”

He means that in order to live life forward you must look backward so that you know how to move forward and where to move forward. Unless we understand the past, we cannot truly learn where to go in the future.

As a Christian I also believe that by looking backward I am better able to appreciate the grace that God has given to me and allow the knowledge of such grace to change how I live now and in the future. See Ephesians 2:11-22.

To answer the question posed in the title: Yes. We [ought to] live forwards but examine it backwards.

Thoughts?

What is More Important: Electricity or the Internet?

Lamp through a viewfinder by .reid.
Lamp through a viewfinder by .reid.

Comparing electricity to the Internet is actually simple. Electricity changed things. It changed how humans lived life, worked, played, communicated, and so much more. The Internet did a lot of the same. It changed how we communicate, spend our free time, earn a living, and so much more (banking, investing, booking vacations, buying groceries, etc). The common denominator between the two: they brought about a cultural shift.

To ask the question “Which one is more important” is a little trickier, but only at first glance. While there are probably alternative ways to have an internet connection powered (solar, etc), electricity is probably the main way our modems and routers stay connected to the Internet. When our power goes out, the first thing I think, seriously, is “crap, no more WiFi.” Now, if I had a generator, that might solve that problem, but I don’t, and you probably don’t either.

My vote for which one is more important: electricity.

Also, if I had to choose one to do without, I would choose the internet. As long as I have electricity I can have light to: write letters, pay bills, read (for leisure and education), watch public television (assuming if we don’t have internet that we are a few decades in the past), heat and cool my home, etc.

Electricity is the chicken. Without it we have no egg (the internet) 🙂

Thoughts? Which one is most important to you? Which one would you elect to do without?