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A revelation occurred to me just yesterday (at the time I’m writing this post). I think that many of us have been living life by just trying to live, without considering the overall picture of our lives. Steve Jobs has been known to say he lives his life as if there is no tomorrow. And while many of us want to live like that, we were never taught on exactly how to have a fulfilling life, how to live a life ‘as if there is no tomorrow’. My biggest fear is this – parting from the world without accomplishing everything I wanted to accomplish and more.
The idea of this post is actually quite funny because while reading on ‘The Essays of Warren Buffett – Fourth Edition’ edited by Lawrence A. Cunningham (which, by the way, is one of the tops of investment books I have ever read), I had this epiphany to apply what I was learning (or so called readjusting) of my investing philosophy to life philosophy. So today, I am going to share with you what I think would help you in finding more happiness and fulfillment in your life rather than just blindly following the life of path. It is in my belief that many of us would much rather have a strategy before chopping a tree than just chopping a tree randomly – and of course, I am that mentor in teaching you how to formulate a strategy. Whether at the end you decide to accept the rationale behind my idea is up to you.
Too many people these days have predictable routines – they go to work for the income, they have a family, they may go out shopping. They live to survive, and not to experience. They live the way they do because they were told to, not because they want to. These people are what I call imitations of Harry Potter books. The idea of a boy getting into a magical school to fight off an evil power has already been done by JK Rowling. When other authors imitate the exact same idea seeing how popular Harry Potter was, guess what happens to those books? They don’t sell! Because it’s already written. So to be blunt, most people live like this – they live in this predictable routine which is like everybody else’s because it’s safe and it’s a popular choice of living, even though they themselves dislike the routine and it’s rather boring! (I mean of course there are people who prefer this type of lifestyle, but these are exceptions and if they are happy, then good for them).
And if you are nodding your head while reading that last passage, I have some good news for you – I am going to tell you about the top-down approach in thinking about your life.
Well, what is this top-down approach that you are asking? Basically, it’s looking at your life from an overall picture and asking yourself a few questions.
The top-down approach focuses on three levels: your life philosophy being the top level, then your life goals, then your life actions. Think of it as a triangle. So life philosophies should be simple, concise, and a few, whereas once we get into actions you can have as much creativity and space as you want with it.
Most of us live our lives just doing life actions without considering the top two levels. Some of us have taken the time to write our life goals such as travelling the world or making lots of money. But I believe a rare few of us has ever asked ourselves what our life philosophies are.
Life philosophies ask the most essential questions – what makes you most happy in your life? What will give you life fulfillment?
So let’s start with me. I want to live a life filled with unique experiences. I want to live a life knowing that I have accomplished many things unique. I want to live a life of looking good and feeling good. I want to live a life of continuous learning. I want to be the person that I am and want to be.
OK so there are five essential life philosophies for me. You can have more or less, but I generally encourage less because that allows you to be more focused on what you want.
Now from there you can start assigning goals to your philosophies (the super fun part!). Because life is filled with unpredictable moments, I think any goals that are beyond 5 years would not be as useful. In fact I would have the guideline to probably about 2 to 3 years time. So for example with unique experiences, I may want to learn how to play the drums by end of next June for example, or I would want to go travel to 10 different countries within the next 2 years. Or let’s take the more confusing one – wanting to be the person that I am and want to be. Well now that I’m much more grown up I sort of know who I am, and at the same time I know who I want to be and want to act like but am not comfortable or am not experienced in being that person I want to be. For example, I might not be so good with speaking in groups in certain occasions for example, even though in the back of my mind I know how I want to behave in those situations. Or there may be topics/issues, some that may be extremely popular and controversial, that I don’t agree with, and I want to be brave enough to voice out my thoughts and opinions on them.
After writing down my life philosophies and life goals, life actions are the type of actions that will intertwine all your goals together to make them happen within your given time frame. A quick example of a life that doesn’t intertwine my goals – a lucrative job with high earning prospects, but it detracts me from spending time travelling, exercising, and accomplishing unique projects. Most people choose this path because they think this path is the path for them. But, using myself as an example, being extremely rich is not one of my top philosophies or goals. So if I advert to this type of high income little time lifestyle, I know I will live a life of regret. Even something like travel blogging meets my philosophies and goals more. Or if I want to learn drums, I can learn drums in a country that I’ve always wanted to visit.
And again like said, most people they live their lives that do not match their philosophies or goals, and they feel sad and regretful. There are usually two reasons for this. One, they never knew how to think about how to live a fulfilling life (hopefully this post helped). Two, they are living the lives that other people want them to live. The second reason is often the most hurtful. How many people live to meet their parents’ expectations, or the publics’ expectations? Remember the vital, and somewhat redundant question – is this your life, or somebody else’s?
There will be times when your philosophies or goals may change, and there is no harm to changing philosophies. Maybe 10 years from now unique experiences are not as important but rather the happiness and stability of your family, for example. And changing philosophies is absolutely fine. Philosophies are intended to serve as the building foundation of how to live your life, similar to a house with walls with no solid foundation is a house waiting to collapse. The point of philosophies is to ask yourself – what makes me happy? What makes me fulfilled?
So I leave you with that, and I urge you to take 30 minutes of your time anytime this week to think about this – what are your life philosophies? From that, what life goals do you have in mind? How can you attain your goals within the next 2-3 years?
Hope you enjoyed this, and comment below for anything you would like to contribute.