Are you making a living or are you making a dying?

Warning: Existential crises ahead

Are you making a living or are you making a dying?

So it’s a little early in the series to turn off humour mode, but since these first few articles are about the underpinnings of my relationship with my past, my future, and with money, you’ll have to excuse the lack of banana jokes in this article. So I’m dragging out the psychologist’s leather couch for a moment.

This article is about purpose, fulfilment, knowing when something is wrong, and finding a way to make it right. I’ll start with my Dad. Take notes.

My dad is an amazing man. It took me a while to realize that, because divorce messes with the head of a young man, and I can be very thick sometimes.

Back in the slightly faded, VHS memories of my life in the 80s and 90s, there is a sequence of events in my head that might not even be an accurate recollection of what happened, but nevertheless has had a massive impact on my psychology.

In my head, my dad worked hard all day, came home, sat down in his chair, read the paper, worried about money (probably), came to dinner at the table with the family, which was followed by TV (if there was anything other than a test pattern on) followed by reading in bed.

That sequence, isolated from the family holidays, and the golf lessons, and the pirate parties and all the amazing adventures that my parents provided for my brother and I, sticks with me today.

Even at that age, I could tell that the difference between a routine and a rut is only four letters and how you feel about it.

My dad took a big, brave, terrifying, terrible decision that turned a lot of lives upside down, but as a family, we’re happier for it. I’ve seen and been through the end of enough relationships to know that if everybody involved isn’t happy, no one will be. My dad and mom have grown and changed, explored, learned, and developed themselves over the years. They’ve been an inspiration to me, and their values have become my own.

Okay, that’s enough serious stuff. Let me get off the couch, push it back into the corner of the room, and create a syllogism. As you undoubtedly know, a syllogism is logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assumed to be true.

Our syllogism is going to be “What living means to me” + “What money means to me” = “How I can use money to live my ideal life?”.

What does living mean to me?  

  1. Living means not getting trapped in a routine.
  2. Living means constantly growing.
  3. Living is about constantly becoming more interesting.

What does money mean to me?

  1. Money allows me to get out of a rut once I recognize it. If my finances are sorted out, I can change my job, change where I live, change my routine.
  2. Money lets me educate myself through experiences, classes, and travel.
  3. Money lets me help other people.

How does money help me create my ideal life?

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Slow down, tiger. If I knew how money was going to do that, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. This is all a work in progress. Let’s step away from big statements like “Living is about growing”, and focus on what something a little easier to imagine.

Let’s start with a quick exercise in which we write down what our perfect day would look like.

Jon’s Perfect Day

6:00 – 6:30

Gently awakened by Christina Ricci. You’ll note this takes half an hour.

6:30 – 7:00

Travel through my Jetsons machine, which washes, clothes, shaves, sprays, spritzes, brushes, and combs me. Receive complimentary cappuccino on the other side.

7:00 – 7:05

Commute to work, preferably by walking to the building next door.

7:05 – 7:30

Breakfast with a ten-strong team of creatives, technologists, coders, marketers, producers and artists. 2nd coffee.

7:30 – 8:30

Lay out the day’s challenges and briefs, make sure everyone’s on the same page. Admin, emails, and other adult stuff.

8:30 – 12:00

Learn, think, play, joke, connect, write, sketch, invent, chat, rewrite, paint, pitch, code, shoot, edit, PR, react, in that order.

12:00 – 13:00

Exercise, followed by food, a second shower, and a 3rd coffee.

13:00 – 16:00

More of what we did in the morning.

16:00 – 19:00

Leave work and go and do something awesome, or stay at work until traffic dies down (the ten feet between work and home can get pretty hectic at rush hour) and teach myself to shoot, edit, code, write, paint, sketch, market, PR, etc.

19:00 – 22:00

Free time with Christina Ricci and friends to learn to cook together, play board games, laugh, work on personal projects, watch occasional movies and TV shows (keyword here is occasional), dance, take long baths and engage in wild monkey sex. The friends will have been kicked out after movies and TV

22:00 – 23:00

Devices off for book reading and snuggling with Christina Ricci.

Okay, so that sorts out the daily life I would like to aim to lead somewhere between now and the age of 65. It’s not my exact life right now, but what’s fantastic is that I’m pretty damn close.

I have a short commute to work, I solve problems using creativity and get paid for it, I work with amazing people who come from every walk of life and are my best chance of not turning into a boring old schmuck. I get constant opportunities to learn and grow.

So I’m doing pretty damn well. Self high-five.

How did you do?

I urge you to write down your perfect day. For a more detailed explanation of this process, check out page 35 of “The Hero Handbook”, written by Nate Green. It’s free, and you can check it out right here.

Once you’ve got a rough idea of what you’d like your daily life to be like, you can compare it to what your life is actually like right now. Then, over time, you can make the changes required to get to where you want to be.

Note: if your ideal daily life and your currently daily life are completely different, do not panic. You’ll get there. Once you know where you are and where you’re going, you just have to figure out the baby steps between here and there.

Note2: I understand the irony of writing about not getting stuck in a rut, and then following that up with an ideal daily routine. Well, Smartypants, a good routine supports variety, versatility, and growth. If we all just got up and did random things every day without thinking anything through, we’d be Charlie Sheen, and nobody wants that.



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