“Most [people] make the error of thinking that one day it will be done. They think, “If I can work enough, then one day I could rest.” Or, “I’m only doing this now so that one day I can do what I really want with my life.”
The error we make is to think that eventually, things will be different in some fundamental way. They won’t. It never ends. As long as life continues, the creative challenge is to tussle, play, and make love with the present moment while giving your unique gift.” — David Deida
Rushing Through Life
Why are we all in such a rush for completion and finality? I remember having a conversation with some engaged friends. We were out drinking, so maybe the truth spilled out a little bit too much.
I don’t remember the specifics, but both of them more or less admitted they got engaged because they were tired of going through the hoops of dating. Could’ve just been the liquor talking, but it seemed like they were more relieved to be done dating than they were excited to start a new adventure as a couple.
Married couples are easy to pick on. Two people have the most exciting moment at the beginning of the journey, the wedding, and then they get comfortable, stop dating each other, and many of them stop having sex altogether.
But this example is a microcosm of a broader problem we all struggle with to some degree.
Why do you want to reach a place where you’re comfortable and content? Why would you ever want to reach a point where you have all the answers, you’re perfectly sure of yourself, and there’s no room for growth?
Why do people look forward to retirement, weekends, and any moments that provide an escape or an end to the yin and yang that is work? Why is tenure, being impossible to fire and having no pressure to perform, a worthwhile goal? Why do we want to feel accomplished? Why are we all in a rush to check out?
Accomplishment doesn’t fill the void in your life. Reaching milestones only feels good for a brief moment and then you quickly get used to your new level of success. Familiarity breeds contempt. Honestly, aside from meditating in a cave for ten hours per day, I don’t think there’s any way to reach a true and lasting level of contentment.
The next best thing, the thing I focus on, is growth. My life got better when I realized there was no end-point to look forward to. I’ve built a masochistic relationship with being uncomfortable. On the one hand, having less certainty causes some level of anxiety, sure. But on the other hand, you’re always on your toes and never bored.
Stay on your toes long enough, and you realize you crave the adventure itself. The way my life is constructed right now, I build foundations and move onto new things. I’ll write for the rest of my life, but I don’t feel like I have anything to prove anymore. That’s why I started a Youtube channel. I love how much I hate being a nobody on the platform. It annoys me in a good way.
After that? Who knows.
I’ve thought about making documentaries, real estate, acting, creating a travelling vlog, creating a brick and mortar business in my city, starting an e-commerce brand. Why? Just to see if I can do it. Just to continually feel annoyed in a good way. To always feeling like I’m “dating” life instead of being in a “loveless marriage” with it.
But this is just how I feel. How do you feel about life? Are you checked in or checked out?
I promise I’m not trying to pick on married folks, but it just makes for a good analogy. See, often people get married thinking that this milestone will complete them and they’ll no longer have to feel worried, but then the milestone can become a prison, thanks to commitment consistency bias.
“This is a superpower in error-causing psychological tendency: bias from consistency and commitment tendency, including the tendency to avoid or promptly resolve cognitive dissonance. Includes the self-confirmation tendency of all conclusions, particularly expressed conclusions, and with a special persistence for conclusions that are hard-won.” — Charlie Munger
Everyone knows a couple who just…shouldn't be together. They know it. But why do they stay together? Commitment consistency. The more you commit to something, the less you want to let go of it, no matter how shitty it is. You see it in relationships, careers, and entire lives.
You get into this groove and you just so desperately want some level of consistency in your life, some solidified identity you can cling to, that you never change.
In your rush to “get your life figured out,” you got…exactly what you wanted. Maybe your life sucks, but you do have it all figured out. You know what to expect. You have beliefs and ideas that are real to you even though they might not be useful. And you cling to them until you die. All of this derived from this need for completion and finality.
I never want to feel complete. I never want to feel like I have it all figured out. And deep down, neither do you.
The question is…what are you going to do about it?
Are you going to live in the cage of comfort or will you be brave and live in the jungle? The jungle can be harsh and cruel, but many species survive and thrive in the jungle because they learn how to adapt.
If there’s an arrival point worth reaching, it’s the ability to have completely fluidity and adaptability. To not need to know all the answers up front. To live this quote:
‘Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.’ — Marcus Aurelius
Tomorrow doesn’t exist anywhere except your mind. There’s no such thing as the future. Stop being in such a rush to get to it. To “settle down.”
Why settle for anything, at all, ever?
Ask yourself that and do what feels right with the answer you come up with.
Ayodeji is the author of You 2.0 — Stop Feeling Stuck, Reinvent Yourself, and Become a Brand New You. Want a free copy of my first book? Get it here.