This is one of those life realizations that slapped me right across my face, and I’m glad it did. I finally realized that I didn’t need all the things/stuff in life that society told me I should need.
When I was in college I had three goals in life that would define success:
- Have a net worth of $1,000,000 by age 30
- Own a Ferrari by age 33
- Live on a beach and be retired by age 35
Let’s break down my silly societal goals
Goal #1: Have a net worth of $1,000,000 by age 30
If you would have asked me, “Jason, why do you want $1,000,000?” I definitely couldn’t have cobbled together a coherent answer. I would have said things like “Because I’d be rich” or “Because it’s cool” etc etc. Really stupid stuff, right? I know.
I turned 30 in 2012 and luckily many years before that realized this goal was not only dumb (because I didn’t have a reason), but also didn’t make sense with my lifestyle and career choice(s).
Since leaving the 9-5 world in 2007, I’d never started an entrepreneurial project with a monetary goal in mind. Yes, I wanted to do things that were profitable, but it was never about making X amount of dollars.
If I really did want $1,000,000, I’d need to start making very different business choices. I also realized it’s not the amount of money I actually care about, it’s the quality of life.
Lesson learned: Being worth $1,000,000 ≠ High quality of life.
Goal #2: Own a Ferrari by age 33
I love cars. I’ve loved them since I was in high school and I’ve owned 15 cars since I was 18. For some reason, I’ve always thought I needed to own a Ferrari to be truly successful and thus reach the pinnacle of car ownership. But over the years I’ve learned a few things about cars and myself.
One very important thing I’ve learned in life is that I’m not a small Italian man.
In fact, I’m quite the opposite. At 6’5 I’ve sat in a few Ferraris and it’s downright uncomfortable. If you’ve ever tried to drive a car, let alone sit a car when it’s not moving, and you’re uncomfortable, it’s ridiculous to own that car.
With a nice car you never want to park within 10 feet of another car, nor do you want to go to parking lots with potential hazards (shopping carts, speed bumps, old ladies, etc). Also, I’ve owned a few nice cars over the years, and not only do they grab a lot of attention (most of the time unwanted), they can also be a big pain in the ass and wallet.
Do I love the way a Ferrari looks and sounds? Yes. Does it cost $10,000 to service the brakes on one? Yes. Do I need to own one? Not at all.
Lesson learned: Owning a really nice car ≠ Being successful (or comfortable!)
Goal #3: Live on a beach and be retired by age 35
Okay, I’ll admit it, this goal still seems great, but the retirement part of it is silly. You see, society tells us you retire from your “job” and then you are happy and enjoy looking back at your career, never having to work again.
What if you don’t hate your career and don’t actually need to retire? My views on vacation are similar. You don’t have to retire or have a set amount of vacation time, you simply need a career that supports the lifestyle you want.
I believe that retirement is only something you do from a job you hate.
While I’d love to live on the beach one day, it certainly isn’t necessary, nor does it define a certain level of success for me anymore.
Lesson learned: Early retirement ≠ Success and happiness.
What societal pressures are you putting on yourself?
There are certainly tons of other things society tells us want we should want and what we should do.
It’s time to start asking why.
It’s time to start questioning the value of things and figure out what’s really important.
I realize that the life goals I had were probably immature, but I’m happy to be making progress towards finding myself in this world.
The other underlying lesson here is to surround yourself with better people.
If you surround yourself with people who have unattainable goals, because they don’t have the drive or reason to achieve those goals, it will negatively affect you.
If you surround yourself with people who don’t get off their ass to get things done or make progress in their lives, it will negatively affect you. If you surround yourself with people who put pressure on you to own more stuff or do things you deep-down don’t want to be doing, it will negatively affect you.
Take a look around and figure out who your real friends are and who might holding you back from being who you really are.