Sports bros have wet dreams over Tom Brady.
He’s their hero. He’s what it means to be great in life. I’m not much of a sports fan so I don’t get it.
But Tom Brady didn’t become this cult-like figure by accident. Now in his 40s, he’s still crushing it in his field. It shouldn’t be possible.
Until you look a little closer…
Tom told The Cut magazine, “I’ve never eaten a strawberry in my life,” with a straight face. I don’t believe you could be a 40-something quarterback in the NFL and eat cheeseburgers every day. I want to be able to do what I love to do for a long time.”
Sounds strange. Even strawberries are unhealthy to him!
It gets stranger.
“I haven’t had a Christmas in 23 years and I haven’t had a Thanksgiving in 23 years. I haven’t celebrated birthdays with people that I care about that are, you know, born from August to late January. And you know, I’m not able to be at funerals and weddings.”
What Tom is secretly talking about is the ambition tax. He wants to be the best in the world at football. The tax he paid to reach that dream was no strawberries or Christmases for 23 years.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch, they say. Everything in life has a tax. Pay the tax, or go broke trying without ever getting anywhere and give up.
You should happily pay a few of these life taxes to get what you want.
Waking up early is the tax on getting sh*t done
No one likes this one.
Waking up early hurts. It’s hard. Our body wants to sleep in and stay where it’s unbelievably warm and cozy.
But these 5 am, 6 am, and 7 am routines you see plastered all over the internet exist for a reason — they work. Waking up early lets you get a headstart on the day.
I used to be a 4 am navy seal but not anymore. Now I wake up at 6 am. Pretty soon I’m going to be the father of a newborn so I’ll be awake 24/7. Yay! That’s the tax on having kids.
Try waking up earlier. It’s not that you’ll get more done, but psychologically you’ll feel more productive, making you inhabit the behaviors of someone who IS productive. Weird how it works.
This is the tax of being an online writer
If you write on social media the tax to do so is made up of these components:
- You’ll build up followers but you won’t be able to contact them, so they’re useless. Only way is to funnel followers to an email list.
- The owners of these social media apps can do whatever they want. One minute they give you an amazing product feature. The next minute they take it away and don’t even tell you.
- Content moderation can change. One minute strip club stories are welcome, the next minute they’re not.
- Algorithms decide who sees your content. These are typically adjusted to favor ads. If your content doesn’t help them sell ads or reach their internal goals, they limit your reach without telling you.
- The small number of haters you attract will leave nasty comments. A few trolls might try to make your online life hell.
You can complain like a little snitch or deal with it.
Writing online has its downsides. But the upside of freedom and creativity is so enormous, the tax is worth paying.
Research is the tax on investing
Dummies throw money at whatever stocks or crypto some bro is shilling on their Instagram page.
Real investors do their own research and assume all advice is biased in some way. They look at current and future industry trends to see what products and services are likely to increase in sales.
Right now that’s the exponential age of electric cars, artificial intelligence, biotech, blockchain, etc. That will change over the coming decades.
To learn these insights you have to spend hundreds and even thousands of hours doing the research. Research gives you the conviction to place a few small investments and see what happens.
No one who is good at investing follows tips from gurus. They all pay the tax of research.
Do the research, own the highest-performing assets in the world.
Not seeing your family is the tax on being a senior manager
Corporate HR doesn’t tell you this.
That dream job with a fat paycheck has a hidden tax. You’ll spend your day in back-to-back meetings so there’ll be no time to do the real work. The only way the work gets done is by working long hours.
If you’re a corporate athlete the long hours won’t hurt you. But you’ll have to give up time with your family. For many people I’ve met throughout my career this has ended up in divorce.
Work-life balance is a bad joke.
If you want the Big Kahuna salary, your family will need to take a backseat. Some partners and kids won’t care and some will.
Dealing with rejection is the tax on getting your dream job
When I decided to leave my job in banking and change to my dream career in tech, it involved a lot of rejection.
Hiring managers love the word experience. They generally don’t want to give someone a go who is new to an industry. Then there’s the 6-month probation period a lot of jobs have.
Even if you do well in a new career there’s no guarantee you won’t legally be fired during your trial period. Then you’ve quit your old job to take a new job that didn’t work out.
Now you’ve got to explain that in the next job interview. A career gap is a guarantee which comes with stigma. That’s why most people don’t pay the tax of getting a new job.
The rejection is too great. They’d rather stay where it’s safe and deal with the regrets in retirement.
Pay the tax of rejection and you’ll be one of the few people with a career everyone else is envious of.
Guaranteed failure is the tax on being an entrepreneur
Name one great entrepreneur who never had a single business or side hustle failure … you can’t as they don’t exist.
The tax on owning a successful business is the failure that tells you what works and what doesn’t.
Piss, vomit, and poop are the tax on having kids
My little munchkin is about to be born.
Friends who are parents have told me to expect my best clothes to be ruined by baby bodily fluids. There’s no way a baby doesn’t make a mess. That’s what they’re designed to do. It says it on the box.
Kids cost a lot too. They need childcare, school, Netflix, money to hang out with friends, etc. This adds up to a lot of money over a lifetime — another tax. Does that stop millions of kids from being born every year? Nope.
Kids pay huge dividends in joy and fulfillment, so parents are happy to pay the kid tax to have them.
Blocking and muting people is the tax on optimism
Blocking and muting people online is a last resort.
I try not to do it. People are allowed to have their freedom of speech and criticize you. But sometimes some crazies take it too far.
All they know how to do is complain, blame, act like a victim, and spread pessimism and hatred. Saying “it’s the end of America” is their favorite line.
The tax to keep your optimism high in these uncertain economic times is to block and mute these Debbie Downers. It’s not fun but it’s the only way to protect your mental health and survive. Soz.
Being addicted to money like a junkie is the tax on living a luxurious life
The dude driving around in a Mercedes Benz holding a Gucci bag and wearing $2000 plastic sunnies made in Asia for $2 pays an enormous tax.
All the flashing costs money.
The only way to keep up with the bills of pretending to be rich is to chase money. This leads them to treat fellow humans poorly to “get ahead.” They can’t stop thinking about money.
They turn their beautiful hobbies into slave labor on TikTok so they can collect ‘likes’ and try turn them into empty dollars. The more attention the more flashing a fake-rich lifestyle is needed.
It’s fine if you love luxury.
Just know you’ll trade your time for the rest of your life to continuously afford it. And as someone who has done exactly that, let me tell you, it’s not worth it amigo.
Shiny object syndrome is the tax on using a phone a lot
Shiny object syndrome is where there’s always a new priority that steals your attention away.
If you live and die by your phone you’ll know this life tax all too well. Soon as you look at your home screen the apps with their delicious red notification symbols are as addictive as crack.
It’s the curiosity we can’t say no to.
“Who wants me, I wonder. Who could it be? Maybe it’s urgent.”
As a result our attention is hurtled around our head, like an out of control mosquito looking for the light it craves so desperately.
The only way to reduce the tax a phone costs you is to use airplane mode, do not disturb, greyscale screen, and turn off notifications. No one is entirely immune. We all pay.
Everything in life has tradeoffs. Accept the tradeoffs or don’t play that specific game.
You can sook like an adult baby or pay the tax. Death and taxes are guaranteed. Accept the tax and you’ll get what you want. Wish there was zero tax and pretend you’re special, and get nothing but a world of pain.