There’s something so interesting about little kids. Their naivety and ignorant attitude towards everything is beautiful. They want to become astronauts, scientists, football players, garbage truck drivers, conductors of trains… you name it, they want to make that dream happen. Some still want to become dinosaurs when they’re older.
With some kids this “decision of profession” changes with the wind. With some, well… we hear about them later in life and they tell us that they’ve dreamed of becoming X since as long as they could remember. I envy those kids. They work hard all their lives to accomplish this one particular goal because they know that’s what they want. It was in them since birth. Those are the same adults that fix me up when I go to the hospital or we hear about when they’re returning from the first trip to Mars.
I can remember in 7th grade we were asked to write an essay about what we wanted to become when we grew up. Even then I remember thinking, “I’m fucking 13. I have to decide by now? Uuuuuh, I guess I’ll play professional football.” After I turned down the starting QB position for the Patriots out of respect for Tom Brady, I decided that perhaps professional football isn’t for me.
Here we are, 22 years later and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.
I recently was caught in a very blindsiding and confrontational conversation that still has me irked. Now, there are many methods I use to release these negative emotions. I exercise daily, sometimes more heavily than others with some striking to get that release. Sometimes more meditation and stretching are the recipe to clearing my head. Writing in my journal daily is a fantastic way to keep your thoughts in check. But here we are, almost a week later and I’m still stuck in some sort of loop.
The short of the conversation was that I was getting called out for being 35 and not having some definitive plan for my future. It sounded like a conversation that I’ve had with people that have some cookie cutter lives. Get a good job, buy a house, start a family, retire and enjoy your golden years.
Fuck that. I’ve never wanted it. In fact, the thought of it scares me. The boredom would lead me to some sort of self-sabotage, I’m almost positive of it.
About a year ago (5 months before COVID hit), I relinquished my path of looking to own a martial arts school underneath my former teacher. It was the hardest decision I’ve had to make to date. It was a path that I had walked for 10 years hoping I could walk it for another 50. Unfortunately, I had finally seen enough red flags that told me I had to leave. I still look to get back into martial arts, once this whole COVID thing starts to wrap up… but as a student. Trying to monetize the very things that you love can quickly taint them.
It took me a few months to find a position in something I wasn’t over/under qualified to do, that would offer growth, and reward hard work. I found an industry that’s booming as we enter a new era and then all of a sudden – COVID. 2 months into a new job and I was already laid off. After 3 months of “vacation,” we got back to work. 3 months later, I switched companies within the same industry for more freedom and room for growth. As you can see, I’ve really had a ton of time to set my roots into something after professionally punching and kicking for 10 years. Oddly enough, some of the skills are transferable.
It’s taken about 5 months to truly sink into my new role and things are going well. My pay is unpredictable, but when it lands, it’s a bigger check than I’m used to. I work far less than I ever have but the time I put in is far more rewarding than ever before. It was a bit of a learning curve, but I’m enjoying the balance of time vs. work far more than ever before.
So when I use Tyson’s quote and respond to the question, “What’s your plan?” with “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face,” I mean it. Paths and goals with smaller intermittent goals along the way make far more sense. The world has dramatically shifted in the past 12 months. Plans have become overrated. Adaptability to an everchanging world seems like a stronger “plan” than the outdated “Let’s live here, in a blue house, with a dog named Jim.”
Entire industries are disappearing. Jobs are becoming automated. College degrees are becoming obsolete. People who spent decades at one company in one field – laid off with no direction of what to do.
What’s their plan? Survive? Pivot? Adapt?
What really frustrates me about all of this? She was 20 years old. A 20 year old girl with no life lessons to speak of… but sits upon a high horse because she’s been in college for a year. Obviously she knows how the world works now. Instagram and tik-tok tell her so. Did you see how many “likes” she got?
I KNOW THIS BULLSHIT. WHY AM I STILL SO ANNOYED BY THE CONVERSATION? WHY AM I NOT AT PEACE WITH KNOWING THAT SHE BARELY KNOWS WHAT SHE’S TALKING ABOUT?
Because there’s some truth to it. She’s not necessarily right, but it’s been a small nagging thought I’ve been battling for years. It probably started late twenties, but it always sunk in harder when I looked at social media.
I spent last summer making up for lost time with my significant other. After 10 years of almost 100 hour weeks and no weekends, it was our mission to live life. The winter is the slow time of the industry and I felt the pain and boredom of it. Just now is business starting to pick up. I’ve been focused on the consistency of good habits, growing said business, and creating financial growth.
Plan? I guess I don’t have one. The goal is to have passive income fuel my life of travel, adventure, and… and living. But society spoonfeeds you to get the job, buy the house, have a family, settle in and eventually retire to enjoy your golden years. Let me tell you about those golden years – I’m watching my parents live them now and they seem so tired from grinding for 50 years that all they want to do is “relax.” It’s painful to watch and I can’t help but be fairly responsible. As a self-aware “child,” I know their sacrifice of their younger years and what could have been was for their family. Admirable but disheartening as well. It’s not my fault, but the guilt is still there.
We’re supposed to learn from our parents, right? Well, in this life, I want time, freedom, and adventure. What profession has all of that? Professional human? SOLD.
Ideally, I want an income flow that can help me continue to grow my income flow (money growing money), I don’t understand how owning a house does that. A home costs money… and a lot of it. Shit goes wrong all the time that costs money and time to fix. Then there’s utilities, a mortgage, and taxes to top it off. The maintenance costs too? The headaches of losing your nice Saturday to deal with a plumbing problem that came up? Yeah, I’ll pass for now.
There are obviously qualities of life, memories, and moments that you can’t put a price tag on… but I guess the costs of owning a home kind of do.
How does this sound like it would yield income or time or adventure? It doesn’t, not to me anyways. Perhaps buying a multi-family with tenants would, but that wasn’t the discussion. A house is a liability (Thank you Rich Dad, Poor Dad). Anything that steals from your income flow is a liability or expense. Anything that can contribute is an asset. I know, I’m late to the game, but when you’re never taught this stuff throughout 16 years of traditional education, 10 years of martial arts education, 8 years of unorthodox business training, not ONCE was this ever taught to me. It wasn’t until recently that I started to grasp all of this.
My current goal has been to enter the “wealthy” phase of my life (healthy, wealthy, and wise), where I learn all about creation and maintenance of finance and then apply it to my day to day existence.
So yes, I’m 35 and I don’t “need to make a decision” as this ever-so-learned 20 year old tried to educate me.
Here’s my decision. I’m going to stay a kid… in certain respects.
I’m going to continue to view this world as I did when I was 5 – with wonder, joy, love, and curiosity.
I’m going to approach new opportunities with excitement and positivity.
I’m going to laugh at myself and anything I find funny.
I’m going to learn from everyone because all I know, is that I know nothing.
But I’m also going to use my “adult tools” to become accomplished at things I love doing. Meaning I’m going to continue to use discipline for growth, perseverance to get through the tough times, and logic to keep my emotions in check.
Again, there’s no “end goal” to life that all of a sudden we’ll be happy once we reach it. Life is 100% a journey, one that we should share with the people that mean the most to us. We could be hit by a truck tomorrow, we could live another 80 years… there’s no telling. One thing I’ll make sure of is that every day, we’re going to smile. Isn’t that the goal for all of us… happiness? Do what makes you happy and cheer on the others that do the same.
Don’t listen to those 20 year olds of the world telling you what to do. It’s your life, not theirs. You’re right where you need to be right now and there isn’t any other way. It all happens for a reason… right? Choose your profession or don’t. You’re doing your best – you’re still here, aren’t you?