Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

Making a decision about what I want in life

I had the opportunity to attend AMA’s Nonprofit Marketing Conference this year rather than working it remotely. One of the speakers, Russ Perry from Design Pickle, presented his process for making decisions. It’s a topic I am endlessly curious about, especially as a marketer. But as my career in marketing was almost entirely accidental, I’ve let my career more or less go with the flow. While that has worked well for me I am at a point where I know enough that I believe I can do much more (and ultimately be happier) if I become more intentional about the direction I am headed.

My girlfriend and I make decisions in very different ways. I can answer yes or no in an instant, whereas she takes time to ponder. Thankfully to her thoughtfulness we can travel around the world and not end up homeless because I didn’t book a hotel thinking that we would just show up and grab a room anywhere. And because I can make decisions in a snap we can grab dinner before our stomachs eat themselves or add some spontaneous adventure to a trip when a hurricane sidelines the plans she crafted.

We work well together (she gets most of the credit), but the way I make decisions prevents me from accomplishing complicated long term goals. That’s where this talk by Russ comes in. He spoke about how he started his company, grew it, pursued a life that brought him and his family happiness, and accomplished much of it by refining how he made decisions. Most importantly though, he emphasized that his process allows him to make decisions fast.

Becoming a decision making master begins with identifying what you want out of life (and make that list selfish, it’s your life after all). Russ shared his original three year plan which involved travel, having some money, having a kid and so on. There was no “40% company growth year over year” or other rigid KPIs. It was a list of stuff that would make him happy. If company growth is the best way to accomplish those goals, then you’d work towards that because it supports your list.

One other key point to the list is that everything on it was a positive. Nothing on the list should be about not doing something, like “don’t end up in jail.” Odds are that ending up in jail would throw a pretty big wrench into your plan.

I’ve now spent the last few days thinking over what I want out of life. It became a bit of an obsession, but I think I have a pretty good grasp on what I want and what will make me happy.

Travel to at least one non-US bordering country each year for a week or more

Easy one for me. I love travel, Sunshine (my girlfriend) loves travel, and we do this already for the most part. I think I may come back and refine this goal in the future to make it more ambitious.

Have no significant toxic debt in my life financially

Homes, cars, those debts that are good to have aren’t what I’m talking about. Student loans, medical bills, the stuff that is only hurting the bottom line need to go. And when I say “in my life” that includes loved ones and immediate family members. I don’t like money all that much, but I really hate the stress money troubles cause for others.

Have 6 months of “I quit” money saved up

And not just bare bones, I mean no change in how I live. Having the freedom of knowing I can quit at any time will not only make life easier, it will ensure that I am doing work I enjoy.

Run a small media publishing company

I didn’t really expect this one. It is an idea my brother has kicked around and something I’ve toyed with in the past. In my reflection I discovered how many times I kept coming back to making these attempts. Wondering why, I realized it was because I really wanted it, but I never planned for it. I don’t know what it will look like, if it will make me any money at all, but I know I want it.

Adventure lifestyle

I didn’t know how exactly to describe this. I want a life of adventure and experiences. Traveling the world is part of it, but this is different. I want a travel van, a home base, support of friends to take care of pets/plants, and to be able to explore anywhere I can drive to. Lots of camping, nature, finding the hidden gems.

Be a better friend

I’m a crummy friend. I really am. I’m bad about staying in touch with others, I don’t make enough time to see them, I don’t initiate and expect others to always take the first step in seeing each other. I really need to fix this.

Have my work help people

I never want to do work with the focus of benefiting the company only. If helping people aren’t the first and most important goal, I don’t want to do it. I’ll go back to serving, because helping people have a nice dinner is a whole lot more rewarding than increasing revenue 2% for the quarter ever will be. Luckily I work for the American Marketing Association now and get to see people be helped regularly by what I help support.

Make art

I stopped doing it at some point. Time I get back to it. Not sure if it will be drawing, designing, sculpting or writing, but I need to create.

Have Ryan Reynolds abs

Because I want to take off my shirt and say dayyyyyum, not damn…

Have our little family

Sunshine and Charlie the cat and probably some more cats one day and a dog or two and eventually convince Sunshine to let me raise beetles and take in a friend when they need it and make a family the way we want it.

And that’s mostly it. It is strange that a handful of ideas can outline what I want out of life pretty completely, but that does it. The next step is where decision making comes into play. With these end goals in mind, each thing I do, does it help get there? I already have some answers about what I need to do in life.