I want to put a ding in the universe – Steve Jobs
Many people say things like:
“As long as you have a job, a house, and family you should be content”.
“You have more than most people!”
“As long as you can provide enough to get by, you don’t need to work any harder.”
“Don’t be a workaholic!”
“Life is too short to work so much”
This all sounds nice, but when examined a bit more deeply it can be a completely selfish mindset. This mindset essentially assumes that providing for your own happiness is the reason you exist. I believe you a greater responsibility to yourself, your family, God, and the universe.
If you barely can provide for yourself, what are the chances you can provide for anyone else financially? If you can barely provide for yourself, what are the chances you created exceptional value for others in your career? If you can barely provide for yourself, what are the chances that you are, deep down, really happy?
If you have barely enough to support yourself, perhaps you’ll be happy, but here are a few things that you could be missing:
- Charity – It’s hard to give money if you don’t have it, and it sure is nice to have the option to help someone else out who needs it. We must have more than we need in order to properly help others out. Unfortunately that requires us to work a little harder than most, but it’s worth it.
- Providing for a family – My mentality dramatically changed once I had children of my own. No longer could we just think about doing fun things for ourselves. We have to plan for our children’s future. Questions like, “do I want to be able to help them pay for college or wedding?” are always on my mind now. It’s not stressful to me though. I enjoy it more than anything in the world, but I certainly have to plan to have a little bit more saved up and work a little harder to ensure that I can provide for them to the level that I desire.
- Making your significant other happy – Maybe you’re ok with having just enough, however your significant other may not be happy with that. My wife has a very successful career, but when we decided to try to have our first child, I wanted to make sure that she at least had the option of giving it up to stay at home with our son. It’s not to say that you have to do this, but it’s a nice luxury to have the option.
- Creating more value for society – Some people have a hard time wrapping their mind around the idea that the more we all produce the more our standard of living as a society increases. If everyone lived up to their potential, the world would still have problems, but we almost certainly wouldn’t have problems of hunger and poor health care. In the case of entrepreneurs, sometimes they are responsible for directly employing thousands of people. Think about all the customers and employees who receive value due to one person working a bit harder and smarter.
- Creating more opportunity for yourself – You may bust your butt, and find out that you have more than you need an you hate it. At that point it’d be very simple for you to quit and downsize. Something tells me that if you manage your life properly, you won’t want to quit though. The point here, is that you’ll have a tough time doing much of anything if you don’t try to earn more than just enough. Do you want to travel? Do you want to retire early? Do you want to give more to your family? You probably do. Don’t suppress your desires! Just plan a way to make it happen.
- It’s a fun challenge – Attempting to create much more than you need might add stress to your life, but it’s mostly the good kind of stress. It’s the type of stress that created adrenaline. If you don’t have higher objectives your likely to have issues with the bad kind of stress, like worrying if you can make your rent payment this month. Shoot higher and give yourself bigger problems, and it’ll make your life more interesting.
Probably the most important thing is that the world is changed the most by those who obsessively attempt to create more. I’m always inspired by Elon Musk because he has huge goals and dreams. He saw that the banking industry was set in its ways and he started the company that eventually merged and became known as PayPal. Then he moved on to what he wanted to do! He wanted to create an all electric vehicle that people actually want to drive. He did that with Tesla. He wanted to buy rockets to send people to Mars, but when that didn’t work he started SpaceX, with the goal of colonizing Mars.
Think of the value he has created for humanity, and potentially will create with his exploration of Mars and solar panels. We all need to have our version of “colonizing Mars”. Mine is building a skyscraper, mostly because I’m not smart enough to help colonize Mars, but I digress. We all need to shoot higher. Don’t settle for just enough! Set your goals high and make a plan to get there. Your life will be much more interesting for having tried to do something more than just enough.
As always, thanks for reading, and remember to be great this week!