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Inertia - Nº92
Think twice before you interrupt time
Thinking in decades avoids a lot of bad behavior.
If you think about relationships lasting decades, you'll often handle the current moment differently. This works for co-workers, partners, suppliers, customers, friends, etc.
— Farnam Street
I finally started to admit that I don’t need to be at any particular milestone to measure and reevaluate everything I’ve learned in my two decades. I am not yet warm to the feeling of ageing, but I don’t resent it, either. So much good happens through time. And the more time we give to the good, the richer the result can be.
What I mean is this: life has so much to give, whether today or in three decades. There’s the repeated saying that people “overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years”—in truth, people underestimate what they can do in one year, too—and it’s crudely accurate.
Humans tend to be incredibly short-sighted. We think and act only in the now because we believe, “If I don’t do this now, I’ve missed my chance for pleasure for good”. We get caught up in present desires enough to scald the sweetness that time offers in the areas of life we care about. Good things do come to those who wait—if you do the right work.
One thing’s for sure: the older I get, the more time I realise I have. Sorry to the pessimists and cynics out there, but it’s true. I lived my teenage years like I threw a paper-wrapped wish into the witches’ fire, pleading for numerous pleasantries to enjoy life like it’s short. All it led to was dissatisfaction and the endless hunt for more.
Realising time can benefit the things I care about and give me more joy felt like I had just crawled to the trailing edge of a radiant beach, where earth meets the sea. And I wiped the white sand from my eyes to see the beautiful horizon for the first time.
When I realised that I have decades and decades in front of me, I understood that I needed to take it seriously. I understood that I needed to plan for being alive for perhaps another six decades whilst enjoying everything each day came with. Life is a game of balance, and I needed to tread the line better.
Saving becomes essential once we reach adulthood. And I entered my 20s not knowing how compound interest plays a big part in looking after our future self. I cared less about the tiny pleasures I might get from a night out or an impulsive purchase—and with it, I dusted away the feeling of excitement from these things almost entirely—and I found more pleasure in saving and investing in myself. It’s important not to think of this only in a monetary sense, as we must save and invest in ourselves physically, mentally, and emotionally.
It felt like a game, then. It still does. Every dollar I save contributes toward a faster completion of my campaign. And I love watching the numbers rise or feeling like I put myself first each day. It feels fulfilling. Fun. Naturally, immediate desires became less and less important when looking ahead to the next 50 years.
The matter of my health and well-being became an urgency. It cannot wait. Nothing is more important.
Time pays dividends to health, work, and your relationships
The best thing about giving more time to the things you care about is it can take just one moment for everything to be perfect. The worst thing about it is you don’t know when that could happen.
But don’t interrupt it. Just keep going.
Knowing if a business idea is real and worth sticking with can take years of work. When you see people turning nothing into something extraordinary in just a year, be mindful to remember what you didn’t see before that moment.
Choose wisely, maintain curiosity, and be vicious with your focus. We’ve all seen people who feel “stuck” in jobs they hate because they earn a decent salary. I care a lot about responsibility. I enjoy the idea that it’s not impossible to change your circumstances and that the world isn’t against you. Because there are countless examples of people who did more with less than you. It’s positively humbling. Planning your life in decades is a mindset shift that means you have enough time to leave that job, find something new and slowly feel happier.
It’s extremely hard to think in decades, to see what your worlds, relationships, life, and businesses will look like in 10, 20, or 30 years. We just aren’t wired that way. Understandably so: once upon a time, thirty years was all we had.
However, if you are reading this, you aren’t satisfied with reality or staying the same. If you are still reading to this point, you know it is possible to think about the next 12 months, 24 months, or three years—and see how amazingly different life can be.
When 2019 ended and the new decade began, how did you feel about the previous ten years? Ten years were up. What had you achieved?
And guess what: ten years are up. What will you achieve in this next decade?
I find it impossible to create something magnificent and class it as “all in a day’s work”. The best work I’ve ever done or seen happened over months and years while someone chipped away at it.
I believe we create our own meaning from life. It gives us a personal sense of freedom, not being barred from the grand why that adds colour to our existence. A life we did not choose to be born into is a life that is ours to define. This feeling of agency is one I love. But it is dangerous. Why? Because it gives you control of your own life. And that scares most people.
There are no scapegoats in reality. There are no outs and no blame to place. In a world of abundance, you may as well learn what you love and get planning.
Today is the most valuable day you will have. It can be petrifying if you feel unhappy or trapped. But here’s the thing, and the only thing: if you are living your days and you hate them, nobody is to blame but yourself, and nobody will change it for you.
Free will is a rough topic, but you can have different thoughts; you can change how you react and approach life in an altered state from the one you are in right now.
Different inputs lead to different outputs. Change the people you’re around for a few days, and you’ll quickly see what I mean. If you change what you hear and see today and completely flip the script you have been building over your years, you have a chance at a completely different day from tomorrow onwards.
So for a second, believe that today is the most important day. Live in these days. Work in months. But plan and think for the decades.