Finishing this blog off at the dining table at 6:46am, while my daughter eats breakfast, she love and early start!!
Consumed by Purpose
I periodically (probably once a month), ask myself what am I doing and why am I doing this?
In 2019 I was so consumed with the concept of purpose (finding it) and happiness (being it) that I spent around 16hrs on 2 flights between Manchester UK and Durban SA (change over in Dubai) reading, watching, researching, note taking, evolving my thinking on these two things. I was in search of the magic pill!!
I think I have milked the life out of things like IKIGAI (Okinawan – reason for being) and Blue Zones (how and where the happiest centurions live) and even dug beneath the skin of experimental townships like Auroville in India (a universal town where people of all countries live in peace and progressive harmony). And explored the principles behind minimalism (living simply and having only what you need to go about your daily life).
What did I learn – it was quite simple actually…
Life is about sacrifice…. It’s just a question of how much of what and when?
“I could have more of X but it would mean less of Y!”
If you were to adhered to the principles of IKIGAI, which in its basic form ask 4 questions that should lead us to better articulating our reason for being:
- What do you love (the work that makes you feel alive)?
- What are you good at (your natural birth gifts)?
- What does the world need (what change do you desire to make)?
- What can you be paid for (what do people need)?
What if when answering question 4 you find your service is a low income generator, or has less value in a clients eyes than you desire.
You may still do this as it speaks deeply to your sense of self, your identity and purpose. But it may mean you have to work longer hours, find a second income, sacrifice time with loved ones or have less material goods (which may be an important factor in your description of the good life).
There are equal challenges to living as those do in the areas of the world referred to as the ‘Blue Zones’ – they are often in isolated places, have low technology infrastructure and to reap the benefits of a healthy long life you are to adhered to a particular diet and pattern of physical activity. To some this will be music to your ears and to others this will be one step to far from the life you (and your family) desire. And living as a minimalist is not so simple either when you have a growing child with desires for things, in contrast to living well with less.
Time and sacrifice
I’ve spoken of this before, time is the only commodity we cannot get back. So we must use it wisely (be that for leisure or work)…
To help illustrate this point here’s a provocation I ponder…
I could be more successful (financially wealthy), but at what cost?
The reoccurring conversation with myself goes something like this?
Voice A – I could grow the business (and generate more money)
Voice B – But at what cost (to me, my well-being, my family)?
Voice A – Its only time…
Voice B – But for how long?
Voice A – 6 month, maybe a year?
Voice B – Ok, but what will you miss out on during this time?
Voice A – I know this, but it’s for the greater good?
Voice B – Who’s greater good, and do we need it?
Its at this point I have to return to the original contemplation at the beginning of the blog:
- what am I doing?
- why am I doing it?
- How is what I’m doing serving my life desire (my description of the good life)?
It’s the answers to these questions that should help you to decide if you should grow or not (to sacrifice time for financial wealth).
If you need to grow to deliver your life desire, then go for it, just acknowledge the sacrifice and identify a transition point. The point at which the balance of the good life you are wishing to live can return.
You endeavour for greater financial stability may be delivered with a greater commitment to time at work, but be sure its costs don’t out way its benefits.
Money and Happiness
Money will not make you that much happier – I promise you. Daniel Pink’s research on motivation speaks to this. Yes money is a motivator, but if we can get to a place where we can pay ourselves enough to ‘live well with the ones you love’ (the good life), then money becomes less of a driver (after all its only ever really a means to an end).
We now find ourselves thinking about the work and our relationship with it. Daniel Pink refers to 3 motivators – mastery, autonomy and purpose. With these now as drivers’ personal satisfaction for what we do increases.
- Mastery – serves our urge to get better (to do stuff you learn from)
- Autonomy – serves our desire to be self-directed (choose the work that speaks to you)
- Purpose – serves our wish to connects with the work (do what makes you smile)
The impact of sacrifice
In contrast, when starting any new business we must to appreciate there is going to be a need for an upfront investment in time, energy and finance (outlay or loss of). We are likely to find ourselves working longer hours, perhaps not being as present as we like with those around us, perhaps being distracted at the dinner table (or missing dinner because we are on a call or in a meeting). This is ok, as long as you call an end point to it (and you have negotiated it with your loved ones).
Don’t get caught in the cycle of saying, “it will be different next year” and then next year arriving but yet you carry on as before. Those around you will not appreciate it. Their understanding may fade, and the argument that you are doing it for them, for their future will not last as long as you think it might and its impact will quickly diminish. Because what they truly want is your presence.
They are more likely to value time with you whilst eating ‘out of date’ cheese sandwiches than they are to value great meals without you at the table. Lift your head up and look around. Before long there will be no one there looking back!
I once worked 33 days straight without a day off and was so pleased I had earned enough money to live well, my family simply responded with – but you are not here for us to enjoy it. So I stopped. The money wasn’t worth what I had lost (time, that could not be replayed).
Yes I believe we all live in sacrifice of something most of the time (to be ignorant of this is to be blind to what’s in front of you). This is ok. Just be appreciative of the sacrifice being made and for what reason (what gain and what loss). How close you get to living the good life will depend on the demands and constraints you have upon you (self or externally imposed).
Only you can decide what you must dial up or down (be that time with family, income or assets). Identify this, speak with those close to you about it and agree it. Stick to this and communicate along the way.
I choose not to spend too often on expensive clothes or live in excess or have multiple holidays abroad, as I wish to have time as my commodity to spend freely rather than money.
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