Simple question: What do you want?
I have a five year old niece who could answer it. Today it might be a puppy, tomorrow a pony, but while her answer might change, she definitely would have an answer. Most people feel similar. Thoughts of massive houses, fast cars, exotic vacations and fat wallets come to mind very quickly. But the question I’d like to ask is not just about what you feel like having, it’s about what you truly want. Something that you want so much, that you are willing to sacrifice today in order to have a better tomorrow.
Everything in life takes time. Time to learn, time to work, time to spend. And time is pretty much the most finite resource available in our lives. It’s so limited in fact, that if you replace each year in your life with a single coin, you could hold your entire life in two hands.
If you’re reading this though, you don’t really have all your coins left anymore. I’m not sure how many coins you’re holding. Maybe sixty, maybe ten, maybe five. Or maybe, if you close your hands and shake them, you could hear your last two coins clinking together. I don’t know, and hopefully, you don’t either.
What I do know is that the coins you already spent are gone. Whether you invested them wisely or wasted them foolishly, those coins are spent, and there’s no way to get them back. The question is, how would you like to spend the remaining ones?
Maybe it’s because I’m a capitalist, but I think that’s an answer everyone can best pick for themselves (here’s mine). Unfortunately though, I feel a great many people opt not to do that. They spend their life years according to what those around them have chosen. It can be on a career envisioned by loving parents, on assets desired by jealous neighbors or on a lifestyle portrayed by indifferent Hollywood actors.
A lot of the ideas that swirl around inside our heads weren’t put there by ourselves. We picked them up. Forgot about them. Put them in charge. Gave them the credit card details of our lives. Priorities get set with few conscious thoughts about what might be our most guiding principles. Good grades compel us to pursue a degree in a competitive field, a well-endowed bank account compels us to buy a fast car, and outstanding work performance compels us to seek a career in management.
If we agree on how those ideas determine our lives, things are splendid. Without giving it much thought, the necessities and luxuries we truly desire get purchased with our life coins while we, full of content, can direct our attention towards cute cat pictures and videos on the internet. But what if that’s not really what you want?
You can’t get back the coins you spent already. You can decide how to spend the ones remaining in your hands though. Every shopping spree comes to an end eventually. When you get to the checkout lane, what would you like to see in your shopping cart? If you’re not sure, maybe it’s time to make a shopping list. Next time you’re on a bus, taking a walk or standing under the shower, give it some thought. What is worth buying with your life years?