Whenever I meet a fresh college graduate at a random mixer, I’m inevitably hit with a wave of bubbly enthusiasm that’s rarely found in my circle of older friends. Phrases such as, “I love my job,” “I believe in my company’s mission,” “this city is so amazing,” and “we’re making the world a better place,” are quite common.
It’s refreshing to hear so much enthusiasm, since my older acquaintances are a little too scarred to blindly believe that everything will be sunshine and rainbows. One friend is going through a bitter divorce. An old co-worker recently died at the age of 44 to breast cancer. While another person had to take out a second mortgage to keep his startup afloat. Life is hard. But you won’t know until you live it.
I was fortunate at the age of 22 to experience a miserably exhilarating time working in New York City. From day one, I knew that getting in at 5:30am and leaving after 7:30pm every day was going to lead to a miserable existence. Therefore, I did everything possible to figure out a way to escape.
Accept Misery In All Its Glory
If you can forecast your misery, I’m positive you will ironically lead a happier life. Here are some examples of what happens when you don’t properly forecast your misery:
1) You don’t bother saving or investing as much. Because you think you’ll always have a job, always be promoted and paid, and always love what you do, you naturally don’t have the urge to save and invest as much. But after about 10 years of doing the same thing, I promise you will no longer love your job as you once did, if you survive for that long. You might get a new boss you hate. Your coworker will stab you in the back. Your industry will get obliterated by technology. And so on.
I’m sitting here in startup central, and given we know the vast majority of startups fail within five years, we can also assume that the vast majority of people at these startups will have new jobs within five years. Yet, there is this blind faith from employees I speak to who believe their startup is the one that’s going to make them rich!
Some the the most highly educated people with 10+ years of experience are still living paycheck to paycheck because they never accepted reality. Conversely, the person who properly predicts when their disinterest arrives will be able to take time off or seek something more interesting due to a healthy savings account.
2) You don’t bother to physically take care of yourself. We have a terrible way of forecasting our miserable health in America since 60% of us are overweight or obese. We love to blame our healthcare system for failing us, but it is really we who are failing ourselves by the quantity and quality of food we eat. Add on a lack of physical activity and it’s no wonder why heart disease is the number one killer in America. At least cut down on sugar folks.
Like running a retirement planner to measure our future cash flow, all we have to do is run our diet through a computer simulation model to spit out what we’ll look like in 10 years to keep us from binging on pizzas and sodas. Yet we do not, and so we end up suffering physical ailments that lower the quality of our lives.
I know multi-millionaires and one billionaire who are morbidly obese. This is completely illogical because if you’re mega rich, your goal should be to live forever.
3) You don’t bother working on your social skills. Because you think everything will be peachy, you don’t bother creating a network of friends who will be there for you in times of need. Instead of giving as much as you can while you can, you give nothing and only take.
There will be a time when you need to call upon a favor because you lost your job, got rejected by some institution, or have something new you want to promote to the world. Without friends, you’ll have a much tougher time picking yourself up or getting anything going.
4) You get incredibly angry at the world. There are few “new hard things” given humans have been around for thousands of years. With over 7 billion people in the world, whatever you’re experiencing has been experienced by someone else before. Yet for some reason, even with the internet, some people don’t bother to listen to those who’ve been there before to try and minimize regret.
Starting a business is hard. Read about all the pitfalls before quitting your job. Having a baby puts a tremendous strain on your relationship. Make sure you can financially take care of yourself before adding a dependent if you want to avoid a divorce. Having no options after spending a couple decades working is depressing. Build passive income sooner, rather than later.
The angriest people in the world are failures at forecasting their misery. Therefore, the only way they can try and alleviate their pain is to make other people feel miserable as well. We’ve all met them. I see them at least once week on Financial Samurai. Instead of being open to new ways of thinking, they get triggered into outrage.
Manage The Suffering
“Do you want to become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?” – Saito
Everybody is destined to suffer at some point. If we can properly forecast our misery, we’ll be able to better manage our suffering by taking action long before such suffering arrives.
The upcoming suffering I see in my future include: physically slowing down due to age and injury, losing my cognitive abilities, bullying in school, losing loved ones, and living a mundane lifestyle.
Based on my forecasts, I plan to: stretch more and eat better, produce as much content as possible before my mind goes, do extensive research on schools for my son, spend more time with my parents, and figure out a way to go on a perpetual family adventure.
Of course, if I can figure out a way to detach from all desires, I’ll be able to eliminate suffering according to The Four Noble Truths. But I love my family too much to stop caring.
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