Gurus love complexity because they can charge an entrance fee to make the complex simple again. This is what most business consulting is. They love making problems sound hard so you’ll hire them to solve them.
Life isn’t complex at all. It’s made up of a few big decisions.
Get these decisions right and you’ll live the good life.
Decision #1 — Boss or no boss?
This is a hard decision.
A job with a boss comes with supposed job security. Yes, a boss gets to tell you what to do and many decisions are made for you, but at the same time there’s less to worry about.
Getting laid off feels like an unlikely possibility.
On the other hand, the greatest happiness in life is found when you feel free. When you have your own schedule and don’t get told what to do. This is the path I chose 18 months ago.
The decision ripped my face off. I felt so scared.
But looking back it was the right call. Even if the no-boss life isn’t for you, I recommend you try it at least once in your life to find out. Not doing so can lead to massive regrets later in life.
Decision #2 — Work long hours or have work-life balance?
The answer to this question might seem obvious.
Dahhh Tim, of course I don’t want to work long hours. Unless of course you’re an Elon Musk warrior and worship hustle p*rn.
It’s not so simple though. Long hours often don’t happen by choice. We slowly fall into bad habits. “Just one more meeting” they say. “Just one more report I need you to do by Friday.”
We say yes because human nature is to people-please.
Before you know it you’re working longer and longer hours. The problem gets worse if you get to work from home. Work life and home life blend together like a smoothie.
If you don’t work stupid hours you feel like you’ll get behind. The workplace is such a competitive place. What other people do affects what you do.
If you don’t do it then you’re competitors will. They’ll say yes and work long hours to take the opportunities away from you. That’s how it can feel.
At the same time, work-life balance becomes a mediocre idea when you get to do something you love.
I work crazy long hours but it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like play. This nirvana state is hard to find. But once you do it’s more addictive than heroin. Then you have to find a way to detox.
Ultimately your work suffers if you overdo it. The brain needs time to decompress, otherwise your creativity muscle gets turned off.
No creativity, no happiness.
Decision #3 — Kids or no kids?
I never thought I’d have kids.
I could barely look after myself, you know, with all the mental illness and eating disorder stuff. Plus, to have a kid you actually need a girlfriend and I was terrible in that department.
As I got older I changed my mind on kids. I started to come face to face with my own mortality after a 2015 cancer scare.
Once you know there’s an expiry date to human life, you start to want to find ways to cheat the system. The only way right now is to have a kid and make them a mini-you that can live on.
Not everyone wants kids though. Some people hate the idea of it, although I feel like that’s often unhealed trauma talking. Some people prefer fur babies like cats and dogs. That’s okay too.
All I’d say is don’t underthink this decision.
On the outside kids seem like a giant pain in the ass and a huge money pit for your hard-earned cash. But after 3 months as a dad I can tell you it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
I live to finish the work day and see this baby smile. My daughter is everything I could hope for and more. Someone asked me to describe it:
Decision #4 — Travel or stay put?
Social media has glamorized travel.
In my 20s, I felt like If I didn’t travel I was stupid. Later in life I realized travel is often a way to numb the pain. Sure, it’s fun. But if all you do is travel around and never find a place to call home, is that healthy?
I’ll let you decide.
At the same time it’s easy to face the other alternative: staying put. Right now my wife and I are trying to buy our first house. She wants to get one 5 mins from where I grew up. I refuse and can’t explain to her why.
I feel like if you never leave your hometown you’ve lived a sheltered life.
I at least want to migrate to a suburb a few miles away from childhood to feel like I escaped the nest. Sometimes it feels cool to stay where it’s safe. But humans weren’t made to drown in safety.
That’s why I’m entertaining the idea in a few years of moving to another country for a year. Maybe America. Maybe Singapore.
Where you live is such a huge decision. All I’ll say is, try to shatter your romantic notions of travel or the hometown life once in a while.
Decision #5 — How will you invest your money?
Investing is a decision many people don’t consciously make.
Their spending habits decide for them. They get paid and then within a fortnight it’s all gone. Nothing left. Nudda. Jack sh*t.
This is the one decision that’s mandatory. If you never invest then you get wiped out by the rising cost of living. Investing in assets is crucial. Assets store your time. They appreciate over time. And …
Assets grow your time.
I’ve never said it that way before but it’s true. We all talk about how time is money and how time is the most valuable currency in the world.
So if you can get more time back through the vehicle of assets then why wouldn’t you?
One reason the average person doesn’t is because of complexity.
Investing is made out to be hard, so financial advisors can charge a bucketload of cash to give you the same generic advice you could get from the ten best personal finance books.
Financial education is the best decision in life if you want more free time.
Decision #6 — Who will you marry? (if at all)
Marriage is a strange idea.
The meaning is evolving. It’s not for everyone and I hate when people shame singles. But if you do decide to get married it’s crucial to choose the right person.
I once got given the advice that if you want to test a Tinder date to see if they’re marriage material, take them to Ikea. Then bring home a piece of furniture and try to assemble it.
If it’s a teamwork dream then they’re marriage material. If it’s a WWE wrestling match then ditch their ass.
Many people don’t realize that your net worth doubles when you get married, too. Both your incomes and assets combine. If you marry someone who’s terrible with money, then even if you’re good with it, money will vanish into thin air.
So many marriage problems are created by money problems.
Don’t overlook financial intelligence when searching for a partner.
Decision #7 — Write online or not?
This might seem like a strange inclusion. What the heck?!
Hear me out. Whether you’re a writer or #ContentCreator doesn’t matter. We all are whether we like it or not.
Writing on the internet is how you share ideas and attract people to your life goals. If you’ve ever sent an email or direct message then you’re a writer. Learning how to write is a superpower.
Those who don’t write have to wait for opportunities, jump through hoops like circus animals, and painfully ask for permission.
That’s no way to live, amigo.
This is another decision that you should make mandatory. Write to join all the dots inside your mind into wisdom. Let the wisdom be a driving force in your life. Thank me later.
Decision #8 — Help others or pursue individualism?
Let’s finish here.
This one’s a trick question. Soz not soz.
The default decision is individualism. It’s what fuelled the individualism epidemic of the last 3 years, which caused millions of people to die from a deadly virus for no reason.
Individualism is where you walk around and scream “I-do-what-I-want!!!” in a Cartman from South Park voice. It seems smart until you zoom out.
The Earth is a collective organism. Your little spot on this Earth wouldn’t exist if others who came before you didn’t create the world we have. All it takes is a handful of crazies to push a few nuke buttons and the human party we call life is dead forever.
The only solution then is to help others.
It’s to take the help you’ve already been given and pay it forward. It’s to stop being the center of attention and start being a leader amongst leaders.
So much career growth is found in the pursuit of helping others. The problem is MBAs don’t teach us that. They focus on revenue, revenue, revenue. That word is what made me leave banking.
“Shut the hell up about revenue.”
It’s all I’d hear every day. People that lived this life were so lifeless. They sounded like sheep and slowly died inside as they preached this bizarre gospel. All of us have the power to help others.
When we do, we create value. Value is far more important than revenue.
Value isn’t an exact science that a CRM can measure or a business guru can give a speech on. It’s subjective. It’s felt with the heart. It’s deeply emotional. Value brings meaning.
It’s the feeling of knowing you helped someone with a hard problem and they can never repay you with worthless $100 bills.
Helping others to make the collective better is how you experience unexpected happiness and get wealthy in the process — it’s counter-intuitive.
Think about your eight big decisions in life wisely.