I’ve been listening to the book “The four hour work week” by Tim Ferris. It’s a self-help book in which the author describes his life, and how he’s transformed the way he thinks about work so now he only works four hours each week.
The premise is pretty straight forward. Dream about the life you want, then start designing what he refers to as dream lines. A dream line is a timeline by which you will achieve your dreams.
Initially, your dream may be fairly modest, such as getting the new car you’ve always wanted. Then eventually, it might be living the beach life on a tropical island while not worrying about the money you’re making because you have what you need and then some.
The author goes on to push the point of not waiting to go after your dreams.
Waiting waiting waiting
Many of us, including me, spend a lot of our lives waiting for retirement to live our dreams.
I’m 52, and up to about 5-6 years ago retirement was my primary focus. I wanted to escape something holding on to a belief if I just had enough money in the bank I could finally live my life.
Year after year, I put money into my retirement savings. I would meet with my financial advisor who would tell me we’re doing good. Then he’d show me a graph to explain how our savings still fall short of the money we need to live our life during retirement.
Focusing on the scarcity of money would cause me to sacrifice to get ahead. I’d sacrifice a lot of sleep and personal time to shine so I can get an extra half percent on my bonus or raise this year. I’d tell myself giving up all my personal time was OK as I will have time to do what I want when I retire.
It seems our entire societal system is set up to feed this cycle. At least in North America, it starts when you first enter school. The focus is squarely on the grade you find on your report card. Then, when the student passes, there might be a small celebration. The celebration quickly fades as the student focuses on the next grade.
Why are you waiting?
Let’s go back to our topic. Why are you waiting? What needs to be true for you to live the life you want today? As much as I espouse this thought, it’s one of the most complex and conflicting thought processes I’ve tossed around.
I think I’m starting to see glimpses of it. Last year, we took four weeks vacation. What’s noteworthy about this is I don’t remember many years where we took as much vacation.
Four weeks of vacation was great! Why not take six weeks this year? I can come up with lots of reasons why I shouldn’t take so much vacation.
It’s not possible given I don’t know what my customers will ask of me. What will our family and friends think of us if we’re taking that much time off? I really should keep working so we have enough money for the future.
In my quest to live my life today, I’ve come to see the only thing making six weeks impossible is me. It’s all just a story I’m making up which is keeping me in the obligations of my life. I use vacation as an example, but the same is true in all other parts of my life. Whether it’s the work I do, my writing, hanging with family and friends and everything else about my life.
You can always convince yourself it’s not the right time. I’m not rich enough, smart enough, experienced enough and so much more. What if it was the right time, though?
What about the money?
I don’t want to leave you with the impression I’m telling you to quit your job tomorrow and sail around the world.
That’s cool if you can and do choose to go sailing, but let’s inject a little reality into this post. Otherwise, this is just another one of those pie-in-the-sky bullshit self-help posts.
We all need money to live unless you are going to disappear into the wilderness and live off the land. However, that doesn’t mean you need to give up on living your life for the sake of money.
We all have different perspectives on what it means to live. Just suffice it to say; be clear on what your perspective about life and money.
Leadership and living their dreams
Happy and fulfilled people will contribute more to the success of your business. Given this, what role do leaders playing in how people feel about life? Is this a relevant topic for the workplace?
People’s dreams are entirely relevant to the workplace. It is not possible to leave the dreaming and emotional person outside the workplace. It’s damaging and almost inhumane to expect this of people.
I know many leaders who establish a routine of a weekly 1:1 meeting with their people. I applaud this, and hopefully, it’s not your only touch point with the people each week. That aside, how do you use this time?
Are you fixated on the work results, or do you want to know this person better?
Are you hoping to get more time out of them, or want to see that they have balance in their life?
Are you rewarding the people who send emails at 3 am, or wondering how you can help them disconnect after working hours?
Are you wanting to keep them on track with work, or to know they’re pursuing their dreams today?
For leaders, there is nothing simple about balancing the needs of the business with the needs, wants and dreams of your people. You can try to shut out the personal part of this relationship, but be aware of the risks you are taking.
If you’re a leader, take advantage of your 1:1 time. It is likely the most important time you will spend with your people each week. Make knowing the whole person the priority. Get out from behind your desk, maybe even go for a walk with them.
Look after the person first, and you will find talking about the work much simpler.