Author Topic: Realising you arenít going to do anything particularly great with your life  (Read 35510 times)

BCBiker

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 187
  • Location: Colorado
    • Business Casual Biker - Health, Wealth, and Mental Stealth BTYB Bicycle Commuting
BCBiker-- many thanks for that link. Great article and very thought provoking read.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

I remember reading this and thinking this community would enjoy it! This was the perfect opportunity to fit it into the conversation!

GetItRight

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 627
Welcome to life? Most people are not going to be famous for doing doing great things, and most will not be rich in the traditional mainstream sense. You can have a rich life and do great things that are rewarding to you though. I do great things that only a few people are aware of and are very rewarding to me, those things are my hobbies. I feel I'm doing great things that relatively few people do every time I'm at the lake at sunrise running the course on my ski, when I pick up a wrench to build an engine or transmission, or lay a bead welding new metal when restoring a vehicle. Many great things go unnoticed by the masses and will only be appreciated by the few who recognize and understand it. Be content with the great things you do and try not to worry so much about what anyone else thinks or does if it doesn't affect you.

stlbrah

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 430
I used to feel that way, I am also 27. Now I just do what I want and sometimes life feels like a real life James Bond movie.

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 836
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ASi_yBm-mr4
Reminds me of a song by a dear musician friend of mine, with the refrain "who's gonna save the world, now that I've stepped down"

Kiwi Mustache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 180
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.

The answer for me is.

No I wouldn't like to be a CEO. I've seen the pressure and time away from family and would be happy being a middle manager. Earning $100k plus salary would be a huge achievement for me. I intend to work my way up to be a distribution centre manager over the coming decades.

I do cycling for fitness and used to do triathlon. The time involved to be top class in these sports requires you to wake up at 5am to exercise for two hours, work all day, then train from 6-8pm at night. When your friends ask you out to dinner for the weekend you decline because you have to be in bed by 9pm every night. So no, I wouldn't like to be an olympic athlete. However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains, go hiking with friends and cycle to work every day. Nothing "great" that is going to get me on the pages of the national newspaper however.

No I wouldn't like to be an actor or singer. I have no inclination to do either or the fame that comes with it.

I love researching, asking bold questions and improving my knowledge. I'm happy to research investing methods, personal finance, exercise physiology, etc for hours or end and never get bored of it. Would I like to be a professior at a university? Probably not.

I guess I've answered my own questions?

Be a middle manager, keep fit for fun, not be famous and increase my knowledge in areas I enjoy. I also want to create a bigger circle of friends (which I'm doing by joining more groups in fitness/hobbies).

Annamal

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 429
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.

The answer for me is.

No I wouldn't like to be a CEO. I've seen the pressure and time away from family and would be happy being a middle manager. Earning $100k plus salary would be a huge achievement for me. I intend to work my way up to be a distribution centre manager over the coming decades.

I do cycling for fitness and used to do triathlon. The time involved to be top class in these sports requires you to wake up at 5am to exercise for two hours, work all day, then train from 6-8pm at night. When your friends ask you out to dinner for the weekend you decline because you have to be in bed by 9pm every night. So no, I wouldn't like to be an olympic athlete. However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains, go hiking with friends and cycle to work every day. Nothing "great" that is going to get me on the pages of the national newspaper however.

No I wouldn't like to be an actor or singer. I have no inclination to do either or the fame that comes with it.

I love researching, asking bold questions and improving my knowledge. I'm happy to research investing methods, personal finance, exercise physiology, etc for hours or end and never get bored of it. Would I like to be a professior at a university? Probably not.

I guess I've answered my own questions?

Be a middle manager, keep fit for fun, not be famous and increase my knowledge in areas I enjoy. I also want to create a bigger circle of friends (which I'm doing by joining more groups in fitness/hobbies).

There's always government work, the pay is worse but you have a chance to make a real difference (and make the papers if that is what you really want).

Lyssa

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 491
  • Location: Germany
Everyone feels this way at some point.  Einstein and Obama and Bono have had these feelings.

If you are the kind of person who is only happy striving towards a goal, then strive.  Accept that no goal will ever be great enough, and strive anyway.  Then die feeling unfulfilled.

Or, if you're like most of humanity, try to accept that your purpose in life is not to meet anyone else's definition of success.  Only you get to decide whether your life has been meaningful or pathetic.  If you don't like what you see of yourself, you have the power to change it.

I almost barfed at my high school graduation ceremony when the speaker tried to convince the graduates that we were the next generation of doctors and lawyers and world-changing politicians.  No, we were a class of average white kids from an average school, and even at that age I could tell we all had average destinies.  Most of them are insurance reps or car salesman or housewives, and that is totally fine. 

What do I mean by "fine"?  Think about how awesome your life is.  You have hot and cold running water any time of day or night.  Your local grocery store contains a bounty far greater than any King or Pharaoh could ever muster.  You can fly between continents in great magical machines, and you have access to the sum of all human knowledge at your fingertips and/or in your pocket.  Your life is better than that of 99.9% of humans who have ever lived.  You are immeasurably blessed.

But you don't have an olympic medal, and you never will.  And that's fine, because if everyone had one it would be just like hot and cold running water, and you'd find something else to be depressed about not having.

Tis human nature to be unhappy with what you have, no matter how amazing it is.

Very true and very beautifully written.

What has worked for me in addition of comparing my life to the one of the overwhelming majority of humans of both past and present was me learning and understanding two concepts (which took me a few years): 1. evolution and 2. how our brain works and what happens if it is hurt or deteriorates. Me understanding the basics of evolution has shown me how much it took to cause my existence, how very unlikely this course of events was and how incredibly lucky I am just by virtue of existing. Recent works of neuroscientists and surgeons has made me realize - not just intelectually understand but accepting the truth of - that our brain is our personality, that there is no ghost in the machine and mortality is real.

Those two things have put everything else in perspective for me and deepened my sense of how incredibly, outrageously lucky I am. Everybody on this board has already won the cosmic and genetic lottery. It's ok not getting a nobel prize or olympic medal on top.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 01:58:04 AM by Lyssa »

CAtoTX

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 16
I respectfully suggest that you redefine what "great" means.  Great means getting the most out of each day, not giving up and settling for predictable drudgery.  I'm not suggesting jumping out of airplanes or anything, but why not make time to give back to the community?  Or engage in a hobby...multiple hobbies...

I'm not a CEO, but I'm a board chairman...of a nonprofit medical clinic that serves the poor.  So I'm the CEO's boss. 

You only get to experience this life once...enjoy it and give back. Be generous with time and talent.  Model that behavior and raise kids who don't have to be told to get out and volunteer.  I started volunteering at the local children's home, holding crack babies.  That's an eye-opener...and a great way to pick up tips on how to soothe a crying baby!
 
Long ago I started to do 2 things.  I would go to the library and get one book from every section of the Dewey decimal system (grouped by subject) so I was forced out of my comfort zone and read philosophy, history, travel, crafts, true crime, biography, etc.
And I made a list of 10 ways to spend my free time.  The list is continually updated.  In years past it contained triathlons, surfski, knitting, genealogy, carpentry, guitar, writing, etc. 

I wonder that people spend so much time and effort trying to claw their way to the top and face all of that pressure to stay there...when being an everyday hero can be more satisfying. 

Good luck to you. 

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3514
Though I do remember M&Ms changing to "You are not a winner" instead of "You are a loser" on their awards packaging.  So the pandering was starting...


That particular one never caught my attention.  I guess I need to eat more M&Ms? 
The story of the Millennial Generation.  We were told we were so bright, so special, so wonderful that each of us could be a world-changing individual.  Unfortunately the reality of life and statistics is such that not every single person can be above average.  The message was well-intentioned, but poorly delivered.  It built up self-esteem, but it ignored self-efficacy. 


I'm older than you -- I was never told I was extra bright, extra special, extra wonderful, and I suspect my life's been a little easier because of it. 

I think it's only become worse with today's teens though.  They're solidly sold on the idea that they can do anything, but they've totally missed the second part of that line, "if you work hard enough".  I'm thinking of a time last year after exams.  I was in a classroom with 10-12 of my high school seniors, and we were all talking.  They were all happy and were discussing what they'd all be doing when they came back for their 10-year reunion.  The general idea was that they'd all be wildly successful -- college degrees, big job titles, vacation homes, PLUS married with a couple perfect children.  AND THEY WERE SERIOUS.  They genuinely believe that a future US president (and VP), a couple NFL players, several future pop singers, and a number of doctors and lawyers sat among their graduating class.  Thing is, I know this particular group of 10-12.  They probably averaged a 1.2 GPA, and several of them  had GPAs lower than 1.0 -- they'd have to do remedial classes to be admitted to community college.  They were all at school AFTER exams because they'd missed too many school days, and they were required to "make up time".  Yet they were so certain they were "on their way".  It made me laugh a little inside, and I felt bad for the disappointment they are going to face. 


The thing about the people who achieve these great things, is that they have incredible drive. They will do ANYTHING to achieve their goals, including selling their own grandmother. That drive usually comes from an unhappy place (bullying at school, bereavement, poverty, unloving parents etc).

I know a famous billionaire, and he's the most unpleasant man I've ever met. I seriously doubt he's in any way happy. The world will remember him, but everyone around him are there because he pays them - including his partner and family - he has no kids. I just don't see his life as being something to aspire to. Regardless of how much money he's made, and how much he's achieved, it looks empty to me.
Yeah, most of us -- EVEN IF we have the drive and ambition -- aren't willing to sell our lives for that kind of fortune.  We aren't willing to miss all our kids' softball games, travel constantly, spend every moment at home on the phone or computer. 

I don't think I know any billionaires, and millionaires aren't all that rare anymore -- but I do know some people who've genuinely prioritized work first, and it's not a pretty picture.


Finally, two thoughts: 

I'm thinking about a quote by Mother Teresa -- I might not have it exactly right:  You can do no great things, only small things with great love.  

And I'm thinking about a day when I was in the high school Sunday School class, and one girl was talking about "the American dream", which she defined as becoming rich and famous.  All the other kids were shaking their heads in agreement, adding comments.  I wasn't part of the discussion, so I didn't say anything, but since when is that "the American dream"?  Has it genuinely changed for today's teens? 
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 06:24:40 AM by MrsPete »

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 8202
  • Location: United States
Though I do remember M&Ms changing to "You are not a winner" instead of "You are a loser" on their awards packaging.  So the pandering was starting...


That particular one never caught my attention.  I guess I need to eat more M&Ms? 

There were lots of news stories about it. Apparently calling people losers was too negative.

Edit: Ah, my memory is foggy. It went from "You are not a winner" to "This wrapper is not a winner".
http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1989-05-15/features/8902010245_1_wrapper-candy-bar-winner
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 07:28:56 AM by iowajes »

MLKnits

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 276
OP, you might want to read up a bit on current psychological theories about the stages of development. The late teens and early-to-mid twenties, roughly, are when we figure out who we are (identity), but the long chunk after that is when we focus on what we'll leave behind. Children are, of course, the classic "legacy," but if you aren't interested in having children (or having them yet) you're left sort of where you were at 19 or 20, cycling through "what am I doing with my life??" instead of "who am I??"

In other words: it's normal! I don't think it's a millenial thing, either, although we may get it earlier or more intensely because of those influences.

I can tell you that I "fulfilled" my legacy cravings--at least thus far--by opening a small business. I'd never wanted to be an entrepreneur (fell into it) but almost immediately it soothed all of my "what am I doing with my life??" concerns. Now I can point to our logo, our client base, our growing staff, and go: "I'm doing that. I'll have done that." I'm not saying you necessarily want to open a business (it's a big undertaking!); what I mean is that there are lots of things you can do that will make you feel like you've created a legacy, and help fulfill the questions your development is trying to answer.

lise

  • Guest
The real question should be, do you want to?  Many people "want" to be a CEO, or invent the next product as revolutionary as the iPhone, but these accomplishments typically come with a high price.   That price can be decades of your life spent in pursuit of a title.
However, I would like to climb a few world famous mountains


Kiwi Mustache - I already think you're great because you want to climb mountains and I know it's something I'll never achieve ( I don't want too but so admire people that do ).

Retire-Canada

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7902

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

My name will not be on a movie's credits, I am unlikely to ever lead my country or be invited on the Jimmy Fallon Show to lipsync battle with Emma Stone.

Doesn't bother me one bit.

I kick ass and take names in my day-to-day life. I have strong friendships and have accomplished a lot at work leading challenging projects.

I am proud that I am well respected in my social and work circles for getting difficult shit done and being dependable.

I spend a lot of time contemplating my life and aligning my day-to-day reality with my beliefs.

You can strive to knock things out of the park in your work and home lives. Be the best person you can be at any moment in time. That doesn't require anything from outside of yourself and can give you a supreme sense of satisfaction.

Quote
Before Enlightenment chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment chop wood, carry water.

^^^^ this quote is something I think about often. It doesn't say after enlightenment get a 1hr interview on the Oprah Show or get promoted as the youngest CEO your firm has ever had. ;)

-- Vik
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 08:28:56 AM by Vikb »

Pigeon

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1277
A lot of famous people  who do great things are in many respects crappy human beings or at least lousy people in some regards.  I don't think there are many ethical CEOs.  They might get rich and maybe do some good, but generally they are also doing a lot of not so good stuff, like killing off the planet, treating employees poorly, etc.

A lot of people who are lauded for their amazing accomplishments also have a not so lovely side as well.  Mother Teresa, while spouting about the poor and suffering, did little to get the poor and suffering decent medical care, the kind she wanted for herself.  MLK was a womanizer.  Many driven people tend to neglect their own families and can be lousy parents and spouses, while everyone around them thinks they are wonderful.

I work at a job that makes the world a better place.  Not in a huge way, but in a small way, and I do my part.  I feel good about what I do, even if I'm not curing cancer.  I also am raising healthy, well-adjusted, kind and empathetic kids. I'm helping take care of some old folks and we volunteer with a couple of organizations.  I think people tend to overlook the small, day to day accomplishments that really do matter. 

MoneyCat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1752
  • Location: New Jersey
I think you should start a Fight Club.  But remember -- the first rule is that you don't talk about it.

crapula

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 13
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Texas
I never want somebody to feel worse off for knowing me.

I really like this philosophy, and converse: wanting everyone to feel better off for knowing you.  It all goes back to your sphere of influence and making meaningful impact where you can.  You'd be surprised how big of a difference you can make this way, though you may never find out how much.

brandino29

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 323
I'm late to the thread but lots of interesting commentary.  Two thoughts. 

First -- whatever you are, be a good one.  Does it matter what you are?  Not really. 

Second -- back in high school I remember meeting an old man who was lamenting the fact that "kids these days" aren't involved in community clubs/civics groups, e.g. the Lions or Kiwanis Clubs.  For some reason it resonated with me and I've grown to realize that we can all make an impact but we need to think local about it.  It's great what some of these rich and famous people do but we all know their names because they are so few (and most have benefitted from a lot of luck to get them where they are).  If you want to make an impact, focus on your neighborhood, your community, your town.  After all, it's where you're spending most of your time anyway.   

forummm

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7389
  • Senior Mustachian
I've been a CEO and a CEO's boss. I've been a successful athlete and had friends win Olympic gold. I've achieved success in government and academics. I've known self-made multi-millionaires. I've met celebrities. I have more money at my age than 99%+ of people on this planet. I have a lot of accomplishments.

But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.

I know that I don't care enough about fame and riches to pursue them for their own sake. The same with power and other forms of success. Being a CEO doesn't mean anything special to me. It's about the tangible changes I can bring to the world.

What I'm getting at, is that it's not what you actually do. It's how you feel about whatever it is that you do. What I need to do is change how I look at the world I'm in as I go about life. Many of the rich and famous are far more miserable than many of the average middle class people in a developed country. I was just listening to an interview with Paul McCartney, and he can't go anywhere or do anything without people bothering him. You and I have so much more freedom to do what we want than this man who has accomplished so much and is adored by so many.

Enjoy your freedom. Do what you want with it. That's an accomplishment that many will never have.

limeandpepper

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4550
  • Location: Australasia
Well, I love the idea of doing great things with my life, and the idea of achieving fame and fortune. But really, it's all just ego.

Luckily, I also have a slightly nihilistic mind. Also, to quote House, everybody dies. And unless you're, say, in the caliber of Einstein or Beethoven, you're not going to be remembered for a long time. Most CEOs and Olympic athletes are not going to be remembered a century from now. It's all fleeting. I don't mean to sound depressing, it is just what it is.

My partner helps me feel grounded in this respect. He probably has a bigger capacity for achieving fame than I do, yet he doesn't care at all. He just wants to do what makes him happy. And this is really the core of it. I imagine that many people want to do amazing things or whatever because they think it will make them fulfilled and happy. So just find out what you can do to give you that feeling of fulfillment and happiness. If it means you have to do something great, then go and do it. If you can't do it, or if you won't do it for any reason (fear, laziness, whatever), then stop dwelling about it, and go do something else.

Jon_Snow

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 4066
  • Location: An Island in the Salish Sea (or Baja)
  • I am no manís chair.
I tend to think what I have accomplished thus far in my life is actually pretty great. Does it matter to me that my life's achievements will hardly register as a blip in the greater scheme of things? Nope.

Merrie

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 465
  • Location: Midwest
I've been there. I think the thing that helped me was learning what I would have to sacrifice to be significant. I have a friend who is in my field and I would call her work significant. I got to join her for a work day, and by the end of the day I was like, "I have no interest in this." When I took a step back, I saw that the people who were "significant" (in the way I wanted to be) sacrificed family (not seeing kids, divorces, etc), worked all the time, didn't have quality relationships. All they had was that "significant" work.


This is what I came to post too. It explains why I am not a hotshot in my career. I was not, and am not, willing to make the sacrifices to get in position to be a hotshot. Instead of planning and schmoozing and applying to do extra optional training after graduation, I had a baby. It was worth it. Even now when I know the extra training would have opened more options that might (maybe) make things easier now, I don't look back and wish I had chosen differently.

Or to quote Garden State, "I'm okay with being unimpressive. I sleep better."

EricL

  • Guest
- Sheakspeare

Ozymandias was by PB Shelley, not Shakespeare.

Ouch!  Indeed it was. 😬.  I remembered it as being written by Bill, typed his name and the poem title into Google, and received my answer.  Funny that how you ask a question can determine the answer even for something so mundane.

As for the OP, he should also consider his life in terms of probability.  OK, maybe based on his life so far and his SAT scores he's an ordinary schlub who's never going to amount to greatness.  But as they say in Vegas and Wall Street, past performance is no guarantee of future performance.  Ordinary people sometimes stumble into extraordinary circumstances that demand greatness - which they somehow deliver.  Likewise, sometimes the great and the wise do the reverse.  So the OP should suspend his self judgement for his deathbed when probability dictates the most precise answer. And even then understand people who survive him may differ in opinion.  The watching Fight Club and having a drink advice: 👍.

Secretly Saving

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 418
I remember the day my mother told me her expectations were fulfilled when I managed to avoid any jail time by the age of 30.
So, expectation levels differ.
Not doing anything evil is already better than some people.
Being a good friend. Setting a decent example for kids who know you.
That kind of stuff is way more valuable than all the celebrity success CEO by 30 BS our culture spews.
Ordinary living and appreciating life is plenty good enough. Don't let anyone tell  you different.

This post made me smile and laugh.  Great!

Gone Fishing

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2830
  • So Close went fishing on April 1, 2016
    • Journal
But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.
(snip)
Enjoy your freedom. Do what you want with it. That's an accomplishment that many will never have.

This.

ER is a difficult accomplishment to show off.  You can't go around waiving your Vanguard statement (other than here) without everyone hating you. But, most of us do like a little praise when we have worked so hard for so long to achieve a goal.  Once you are FIRE, you can persue all sorts of interesting things besides putting keystroke A into textbox B in your cubicle 40+ hours a week, and have the time to pursue them to the nth degree all without neglecting your friends or family (that Maslow guy was on to something).  Like or not, when you spend enough time to get good at something that is not too taboo (like finances) to talk about, you WILL get some attention.   

One of my FIRE goals is to turn my little 6 acres of land into a productive perennial tree crop farm.  If I do it right (and my kids do not sell it to someone with a bulldozer but even that will not get rid of the bamboo:)) it should continue to be productive for the next 100+ years.  It fills my legacy need, desire to design, is infinitely improvable, is something tangible and productive I can show off vs my Vanguard statement which I cannot.  Give me 20-30 years and I can guarantee my farm will garner a little bit of attention in the right circles as trees are a lot like stocks, no one can go back and recreate something you did 30 years ago without a ton of money.   I am looking forward to having a few ooohs and aaahs over my accomplishments someday.

Apply this to anything you want, art, music, language, etc.  Get good at something more tangible than cube work and people WILL be impressed.  As others have said, these things take years of hard work and dedication.  Anything someone can do in a few short years out of school (minus a few notable examples) is generally going to be more common and as such, less impressive.     

rpr

  • Guest
Great piece in Leo Babauta's zenhabits on this titled "The Source of Contentment" => http://zenhabits.net/source/

Exhale -- It's been a while since I read Leo's posts. Thank you so much for this link.

I have to say that of all the responses in this excellent thread, IMO the above link is the most useful of all. That article is short and simple and well-worth the read. Thank you.

Kaspian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1535
  • Location: Canada
    • My Necronomicon of Badassity
Iíve uncovered Iím never going to be an a CEO or Olympic athlete. Iím never going to be a Hollywood actor, famous painter, inventor or scientist.
a bit stuck. When I was in my teens and early 20ís at university, I used to be a bit naive and think I would
I'm 27 years old, in a standard role at my work earning 50k before tax. Iím in a relationship with my partner and we plan to do the standard get married have children and work to save and invest for retirement.

I feel do ďsomething greatĒ with my life. I read autobiographies of famous people doing amazing things and then compare them to my life which seems to just be bumbling along.

Iím having a quarter life crisis almost.

Anyone else been in the same position? How did you deal with it? What did you do?

You never know what's going to come up or what you'll learn...  It's weird.

- At 23 I was with a band that had a few songs on the radio.  I enjoyed playing music with those guys, but the rest of the business (other than the occasional great live show and the girls) could go to hell.  The only part I miss is being locked away in a garage somewhere drinking beer and writing and playing music with those 2 other guys.

- At 25 some of my writing was published in literary magazines.  That was sort of fun.  But write for a "living"?  Errr... No.

- I spent my vacation days in my 30s going to a place in Europe every year and the Caribbean.  I still do that, but not as often.

- 36 started going to sci-fi conventions with my friends.  We have crazy costumes.  People want to pose and take their photos with you like you're a superstar.  <-- This is a lot of work but a hoot!! 

- At 38, I went to a ranch in the desert in Arizona and learned how to properly horseback ride.  ...And visited Tombstone.  <-- Amazing!!  I love horseback riding now.

- At 38, I also went to Costa Rica and learned how to surf.  It was fun but the amount of work involved in the reward?  Fuck that.  I was panting and my arms felt like spaghetti after only an hour.  ...Not worth it.

- At 39 (!!!) was cast into a bit part in a TV show they were filming in town after a friend dragged me to an audtion.  ("The Kids in the Hall".)  Worst job ever!!  Boring, horrible, dumb hours, sitting around for hours, catered lunches, wearing a stupid cop costume in direct sun in August.  Fuck that!  I wanted to go back to my dreary, air-conditioned, government work cube so bad.  Seeing myself on TV in a show was cool, but the rest was such shite I vowed to never do another one of those.

- 40, I went to Memphis and Graceland.  <-- Brilliant!

- 42, Swam with giant sea turtles in the open ocean.  <-- Aces!

- 43, I went to fricken' Transylvania, Romania!!  <-- Again, brilliant!

So, my point is that there's still an avalanche of very, very cool shit coming your way if you keep your mind open to it.  My experiences with fame generally boil down to "fuck that!".  I'd rather be on a beach, or travelling, or sitting on an outdoor patio having a beer with friends.  Potential and fame and admiration can really kiss my ass for all I care.  Have fun, be a good person, do things you want, save for them, don't destroy the environment.  Next time you think it'd be fun to be on a TV show or be a great surfer athlete or something else mental, know that it's not for everyone.  ...And not necessarily any fun at all.   Maybe I could have been a TV personality or a rockstar if I seriously clamped down and pursued it.  (But I would have been miserable.)





Kaspian

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1535
  • Location: Canada
    • My Necronomicon of Badassity
Oh, AND the bands I loved?  Kurt Cobain?  The Ramones?  I wouldn't trade places with them for all the tea in England. 
Some people I like, like Neil Gaiman, look to be happy.  But he's a bit of an ugly mug.  Glad I'm not him too.
Knowing what I know now, the only people I'd trade places with are Batman, Dr. Who, and maybe Charlize Theron (in which case I'd have a whole lotta lingerie and mirror shopping to do before I locked myself away for a whole month).

galliver

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1873
I've been there. I think the thing that helped me was learning what I would have to sacrifice to be significant. I have a friend who is in my field and I would call her work significant. I got to join her for a work day, and by the end of the day I was like, "I have no interest in this." When I took a step back, I saw that the people who were "significant" (in the way I wanted to be) sacrificed family (not seeing kids, divorces, etc), worked all the time, didn't have quality relationships. All they had was that "significant" work.

That shift really happened after I got married (at 27). Before then, I was totally career focused and things never quite went where I expected. I let go as I realized I was significant to the people closest to me, and that's more important now.

+1

I'm 26 and should be wrapping up my PhD within 12-18 mos, so I've been thinking a lot about my next steps. One thing I realized is that while I think I could follow the postdoc->tenure track prof route, I'm not certain I want to. Not just because it's a high-pressure/high-time-commitment environment, but because the past 4 years have shown me that certain aspects of my personality are exactly opposite what a research professor needs to be, and I know that fighting myself on those aspects day in-day out would make me miserable. I've also realized that I get far more satisfaction from helping a friend or colleague solve a problem (assisting with an experimental setup or recommending a program/tool they were unfamiliar with) or from seeing the light in a student's eyes when they "get it" than I do from getting long-awaited results or giving a research presentation. I like getting results, but the feeling is more "OMG finally I don't have to deal with this anymore" than "I'm a rockstar." When I help or teach someone, I do feel like a rockstar. I haven't completely made up my mind yet, but I have 80% convinced myself that it's OK to take a different, less ambitious path. And that grad school wasn't necessarily a waste of time in that case, if I learned things about myself and about the world in the process.

I guess what I'm saying: don't accept society's definition of 'success' or 'greatness' as your own by default. Consider what you are willing to give and what you want to get as a result, and how to make those match up. And then, in the excellent words of President Obama in an interview with HONY:
Quote
I was thinking maybe this isnít what I was cut out to do. I was 40 years old, and Iíd invested a lot of time and effort into something that didnít seem to be working. But the thing that got me through that moment, and any other time that Iíve felt stuck, is to remind myself that itís about the work. Because if youíre worrying about yourselfóif youíre thinking: ĎAm I succeeding? Am I in the right position? Am I being appreciated?í Ė then youíre going to end up feeling frustrated and stuck. But if you can keep it about the work, youíll always have a path. Thereís always something to be done.

(Not to be taken as an endorsement of Obama as a whole; I just really love that story/passage/interview.)

jeromedawg

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3456
  • Location: Orange County, CA
Sorry, I can't really offer much advice but can empathize.

I struggle with the same thing as you. Even now, at the ripe old age 34 jk.

My life is nothing spectacular. In fact, if you ask me what I do [for work], I'll probably have trouble telling you the details most likely because I just don't care. Sometimes the insignificance bogs me down (like right now) and I get into this weird state where I ask myself over and over "what have I done with my life?" and then I compare myself to my peers, most of whom are very successful and wonder why I'm not like them or why I can't earn the incomes they earn or have the houses or cars that they have.

Sometimes I feel like I just want to punch a wall... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLiqJ8-T75A

At the end of the day, I think I'd be happy walking an empty beach with my fly-fishing rod and plenty of sun-protection. And then going home to a self-sustained farm that I built myself. I'm not quite sure that day will ever come but here's to hoping...

Davids

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 972
  • Location: Somewhere in the USA.
I am 33, married with a baby. Having a baby is the greatest joy in my life, makes it feel more complete. From a professional stand point I have no desire to be a CEO or even a SVP, basically I want to be in a position where I make good money but with low stress so I can maintain a good work/life balance which is what I have right now. Anything higher that would cause more stress and increases hours worked and decreases time spent with family is not worth any potential salary bump.

I have been able to travel many times so I feel good about that. Just because I am not some successful entrepreneur or athlete means nothing to me. Waking up and being happy knowing that I have a good wife, great kid and a job that I don't mind going to is pretty darn good to me.

workathomedad

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 189
It may be hard to see or believe now, but being a good husband (and father) is more important than "person X"'s big publicized achievement. At the end of your life, it is going to be what mattered the most.

MsRichLife

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 539
  • Age: 43
    • Living My Rich Life
I had myself a good old quarter life crises when I was in my mid twenties. Now, in my late thirties with all the benefits of hindsight and some more wisdom than I had back then, I offer the following for your consideration. 

Have a good hard look inside yourself and get to understand your core values and your unique set of strengths. You may find what truly matters to you is not actually what you think right now.

Once I truly understood what makes ME tick, I restructured my life quite significantly to ensure I was living my more authentic life. Now I can align my goals to my values and strengths and life is infinitely more enjoyable and meaningful. 

I'm on my phone right now, but I'll come back to post links to some good resouces.

Spondulix

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 640
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
I've been a CEO and a CEO's boss. I've been a successful athlete and had friends win Olympic gold. I've achieved success in government and academics. I've known self-made multi-millionaires. I've met celebrities. I have more money at my age than 99%+ of people on this planet. I have a lot of accomplishments.

But I also feel like I haven't lived up to "my potential". And won't. Even with the accomplishments, I don't feel like I've done enough. I wonder if I ever will.
I've heard some investors say that they look for that drive in entrepreneurs - people who "succeed" at business because they can never live up to their own potential. They just continue to keep pushing and driving themselves harder because they have to prove to themselves.

The thing is... isn't that unhealthy? I used to have that mindset and it put me on a fast track to being at the top of my industry. Then I burnt out, which was when I realized that the voice in my head was 1. perfectionism, and 2. self-doubt and shame.

So it's funny - I used to think I'd never meet my potential cause I wasn't working hard enough, and it was driving me to work harder. Now, I accept that I won't meet my potential, but because it's ok, the drive is gone. I enjoy what I do, but I sorta don't care anymore. It's strange.

valerieinthegallery

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 5
I am looking forward to reading this whole thread when I have more than a few free moments!

I am in the same boat, except nowhere near as accomplished as you, if it makes you feel any better!

I never really wanted to do anything "great", I suppose, but I still feel like such a loser. I don't use my college degree at ALL, because what I went to college for was something that I was GOOD at, but that I didn't enjoy at ALL. So I have been hopping from "job" to "job" - no career. I stay at a job until they don't need me anymore - seasonal, temporary, etc. My last position I really enjoyed and was hoping to stay there forever - I didn't make much, but enough to get by and I live pretty simply. But the position was cut due to budget cuts, and so I am out of a job again (aside from my other very part-time position) I have never had a "career" and if I did, I don't know what field it would be in! I keep thinking maybe I am not meant for a "career" - maybe I am meant to just have a nice comfortable little job to go to, punch in and out and go home. But I can't even find one of those! And the most I have ever made in a year is just under $30,000.

Oh, and did I mention that I am 37 years old and the mother of two teenagers?

What are my plans? Who knows? When the kids have moved out, I plan to sell the house and either rent a small place or build a tiny house. Maybe move somewhere warmer (I'm in the VERY Northeast). That's about it so far. Oh, yeah, and FIND A JOB. That one seems to be eluding me.

As for what I plan to do about not feeling accomplished? Eh. I don't think I need to be. A quiet little life with my cat and my books and I'm pretty content.

But yes, I have moments when I look around and I think "How did I get here??" I had so many plans when I was younger, so many things I was going to do, I had this picture in my head of how everything would look. But it is what it is. You just have to find a way to find happiness in however things are, I guess.

And from the sounds of your post, you are pretty well accomplished! And you're not even 30 yet, so there is time yet to dream.

bacchi

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5313
The "7 Up" series relates to this thread. It's a profound and sober look at the lives of 14 youth as they grow up in England; or a non-fiction "Boyhood" without the uplifting ending.

They released the "56" episode in 2012.

Le0

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 216
  • Location: Ontario, Canada
    • My Path to Financial Independence in 2014

boarder42

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7845
but you're already doing something amazing you're retiring before most people even think about saving for retirement.. THAT is amazing

mrshudson

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 153
Also recommend the New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Best "cure" for the occasional bouts of existentialism.

James

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1680
  • Age: 48
  • Location: Rice Lake, WI
You are young. Lose the ball and chain and go live a little.


(A little tongue-in-cheek, but still serious about getting out and doing something that seems crazy to you right now. Doesn't have to cost a lot or mean a lot of travel, but don't stay the course once you know it's not what you want.)

brandino29

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 323
Forgive me if this has already been shared here, but...you are not special.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lfxYhtf8o4


Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7164
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Somebody mentioned being a rockstar.

I have a friend who was a genuine rockstar in the late 60's early 70's (I won't mention his name). We have had several conversations about that lifestyle and how great it must be.

Over lunch one day he explained just how "great" it was... NOT.. yeah, made millions of dollars, snorted millions of dollars, slept with lots of girls he can't remember and its a wonder he is still alive.

He is now happy but broke... Most of his friends from that era died pretty young.

He told me that during that time of the constant grind of touring and living on a bus that all he wanted was to have a little house in the country with a wife and family!.. What??

I guess the moral of the story is the grass is not quite as green as you might think on the other side. Of course as a MMM, if I was a rockstar there would be no way I'd end up broke (at least not through poor financial choices).


Mr. Green

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2667
  • Age: 37
  • Location: Wilmington, NC
Generally speaking, being passionate about something proceeds being great at it. I have also grappled with "I want to do something great with my life." I have no passion for the job I have now, but being in my early 30's, it will allow me to FIRE in a couple more years, and then I can chase whatever passion my heart desires. That passion may turn into greatness down the road. At a minimum, happiness will accompany it.

Not everyone who was great became great when they were young. For me, I'm all about securing my financial future now, and then having the opportunity to open myself up to limitless possibilities.

morning owl

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 230
  • Location: Canada
Exflyboy, your story reminded me of this baseball player who earns millions but has decided on a very simple lifestyle (while rich and in his early 20s) --

http://www.theplaidzebra.com/21-year-old-pro-baseball-player-vw-camper-van-daniel-norris/

I love this story. Very Mustachian and inspiring.

I have also had brushes with famous people via my former work life. I do not envy those people. They were either dishonest and extremely unlikeable and/or completely neurotic. I've concluded that the key to happiness is right here -- appreciating what I have, and living a fairly simple life.

"Doing something great with your life" doesn't mean fame and fortune, though. There's also a very real need for people to find a sense of fulfilment in work. Fulfilling work seems pretty rare for most people. Most of us who are on the mustachian path are really just looking for this -- fulfillment in our day to day lives, whatever form that might take. To do that, we need the time and freedom in our lives to find out what fulfilling work (or a fulfilling activity, paid or unpaid) is for us. It's different for everyone, so it just takes time to figure out what that activity is for you, and then some more time and effort to figure out how to do more of it. Once you can do more of it, eventually you'll get good at it, and maybe eventually even do something "great". I don't think great things = money though. It just means that you've found an activity you can get lost in, while time flies by.

Candace

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 582
  • Age: 54
  • Location: Hampton Roads, Virginia
This is a great thread.

My current email signature is a quote from one of our esteemed host's posts:

"Life is not a contest to see who can accomplish the most. Itís simply a series of days where your goal is to wake up, have a great time, and go to bed even happier than when you woke up."

So, if you value MMM's wisdom, which presumably you do since you're here, hopefully that quote will help with perspective.

My other contribution is this: It's said often that helping people in need is one of the best ways to feel like you're making a difference. So perhaps some charity work would help your outlook.

lifejoy

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3924
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Canada, eh
  • Lovin' the Mustachian life!
    • Not Buying This
The book "The Fault in Our Stars" by John Green really cured me of my quarter-life crisis. The movie, not so much, but the book - TOTALLY.

I won't give any spoilers, but essentially it hits the message home that you don't have to do SOME BIG THING to have a good life :)

MandalayVA

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1571
  • Location: Orlando FL
I was just listening to an interview with Paul McCartney, and he can't go anywhere or do anything without people bothering him. You and I have so much more freedom to do what we want than this man who has accomplished so much and is adored by so many.

I would never want to be famous like that.  One of my favorite Rush songs is "Limelight," and one of my favorite lines from it is "I can't pretend a stranger is a long-awaited friend," which many famous people have to do all the time.  Add in the stalkers and psychos and ... no, thanks.

Dr. Doom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 469
  • Age: 43
  • Location: East Coaster
I'll draw an analogy around the concept of 'enough.'

People on this forum know pretty well what they feel is an acceptable level of material comfort, after which they get severely diminished returns for their effort and spending.  They know where that line is -- they know what's enough.

So what's enough in terms of achievement in your life?

For some the enough answer is simple.  Waking up.  Good conversations with friends.  Sitting outside for a while.  Eating a good meal.  Being a good parent.

And for others the bar is fairly high.  Becoming famous and turning into a household name.  Donating a million to charity.  Developing a drug or product that saves all humanity. 

Part of maturing is figuring out where that enough line is for you when applied to ambition.  Even on these boards, you'll notice wide variations between members.

I'm pretty sure that I'm not going to do anything remarkable with the rest of my life and to be honest I find that awareness to be a relief.  I don't want to be great.  I want to be happy.  Although those two things are not mutually exclusive, I'm more interested in actively striving for the latter.

Exflyboy

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7164
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Corvallis, Oregon
  • Expat Brit living in the New World..:)
Exflyboy, your story reminded me of this baseball player who earns millions but has decided on a very simple lifestyle (while rich and in his early 20s) --

http://www.theplaidzebra.com/21-year-old-pro-baseball-player-vw-camper-van-daniel-norris/

I love this story. Very Mustachian and inspiring.

I have also had brushes with famous people via my former work life. I do not envy those people. They were either dishonest and extremely unlikeable and/or completely neurotic. I've concluded that the key to happiness is right here -- appreciating what I have, and living a fairly simple life.

"Doing something great with your life" doesn't mean fame and fortune, though. There's also a very real need for people to find a sense of fulfilment in work. Fulfilling work seems pretty rare for most people. Most of us who are on the mustachian path are really just looking for this -- fulfillment in our day to day lives, whatever form that might take. To do that, we need the time and freedom in our lives to find out what fulfilling work (or a fulfilling activity, paid or unpaid) is for us. It's different for everyone, so it just takes time to figure out what that activity is for you, and then some more time and effort to figure out how to do more of it. Once you can do more of it, eventually you'll get good at it, and maybe eventually even do something "great". I don't think great things = money though. It just means that you've found an activity you can get lost in, while time flies by.

I love it!.. In fact my Wife and I are starting to feel the pull of the nomad lifestyle ourselves.. You know, sell the house with the two rentals on it.. all the crap that anchours us to this spot and go.. somewhere.. anywhere.

It definitely has an appeal..:)

rmendpara

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 602
I'll just add that your views of outward success and inward success will change as you grow (not necessarily with age, but very likely since our values change over time).

One problem with our generation is that we were told forever that we could do anything. That was fantastic, but an unintended consequence of telling kids they can do anything... is that they grow up thinking they have to do everything.

Certain views of success are perpetuated at the expense of disallowing a wider view of what will make you happy.

Periodic identity crises are good, ironically, because they do force you to think deeply about yourself and what you really want out of life, rather than just telling yourself the same things that other people have told you forever.

Daisy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2192
Forgive me for getting all spiritual here, but I guess the topic lends itself to that.

I've found that the purpose of life is to be able to grow as a person...more empathy, more wisdom, more understanding, more helping of others. We're born as emotional midgets and our goal is to learn and grow and reciprocate all of the love we find in our lives. I find FIRE to be a great facilitator of all of this.

Fame and fortune are fleeting and - in the end - meaningless.

I remember my grandmother's funeral. She was a "poor" woman by material standards. She had to emigrate/immigrate twice in her life. She had 6 children and countless grandchildren. She touched everyone's life in a positive way. She ran her own prayer cirlces (deeply religious). At her funeral, the police leading the caravan of cars mentioned it was one of the largest car caravans from church to cemetary they had ever seen. And this was a woman who only lived about 15 years of her life in the US. And still in that time made a big impact. I've never heard anyone say any negative thing about her. She was very loving and loved by all.

That's a successful life.