The unintended consequence of a startup can be acceleration of everything around you. It happens so fast, in fact, you end up losing perspective on more important aspects of life. It’s easy to get out of bed each day, focus on what’s in front of you, go to bed only to get back up the next day to do it all again. If you are not careful you will find yourself sprinting and spinning in place, making no forward progress at all.
Problems arise when you lose perspective, focusing only on what’s in front of you, becoming all too consumed on accomplishing your immediate goals and not what lies on your life’s horizon. Soon enough you will reach your “destination” without taking certain aspects of life into consideration – like family, health and the afterlife – leaving you empty and unfulfilled at the end of your journey.
Here are 5 areas I am currently reflecting on to help gain a perspective on life with hopes to figure out a way to better align with what I am doing right now. (Pardon the existential tone, just one of those days I guess…)
Do I actually enjoy how I spend my days?
Though it’s quite elementary it might help to evaluate if you are actually enjoying where you go and how you spend each day once you get out of bed and leave your house. Honestly take into account the fun factor, or lack thereof. Do you feel like a kid? Or a boring adult? Do the hours pass with ease and are you fulfilled once the day is over? Yes, we have to make a wage, earn a paycheck and support our family but we don’t have to dislike it. We should be enjoying each passing day and the process within.
I quit my full time job a while ago because I didn’t enjoy working for someone else and simply earning dollars for the hours I worked. I decided to start a company – knowing it was going to be tough – because I value exploration and journey more than maintaining a status quo. I more value creation than maintenance.
But even now as a free entrepreneur I am not exactly living the charmed life and if I am really honest with myself I remain unfulfilled. The eyes burn and the legs strain as I make the climb. I am still searching for the right environment, right cause and right team to help me execute on a worthy mission. Most important to me is reaching a time in my life where I am able to say “if this is the last day of my life I am extremely excited and happy to do exactly what I plan to do today.”
We’ll get there.
What do I want my grandchildren to say about me?
Gazing towards the horizon, I am pondering how my family and friends will think of me when I am gone. I hope I am following through and planting the right seeds. How about you? How will your friends and family describe you to their friends and others? What will they talk about and what type of person will they describe? Will they be proud to be your grandchild? How did you treat them and what types of memories do you want to leave with them?
I am not even married so I am not even sure why I am thinking about my grandchildren. Maybe it’s better to understand this concept in terms of legacy. I want to leave a positive legacy for my family to be proud of. It’s safe to say I haven’t gotten very far on this one but it is never too early to ponder what it should involve. I want to be known as someone who never gave up, regardless of how difficult things became. I want to be known as someone who treated everyone fair and well, regardless of who they were or their circumstances. I also want to influence change in the world and encourage others to do the same.
I want to be proud of the person my grandchildren hopefully talk about.
If I die today, what will I say to my creator about how I lived my life?
Heavy stuff to think about but just imagine this for a minute: you die, you go onto to the afterlife and you approach someone (something) who is there to take account of your life.
Yep. Each. And. Every. Minute. Of. Your. Life.
They look at you and proceed to ask you questions about it. Why did you say that word to that person? Why didn’t you offer a hand to that helpless woman? I gave you millions of dollars to help others, why did you spend it all on your self?
Now imagine them showing you how they hoped you had lived your life. All the possibilities and potentials of your life start flooding right in front of you, but you cannot speak. Your face goes white with regret as you realize you squandered all your strengths and talents, not using them as they could have been used to help your fellow man.
I know… crazy stuff.
Who, if anyone in my life, can I share my deepest and darkest fears with?
Do you have a confidant? Is there someone you can talk to who will understand and hold no judgement, no matter what you tell them? I have noticed thoughts, feelings, and emotions building up within me at the same time I can’t find an outlet in sight. It can be frustrating and claustrophobic to identify struggles and challenges within us but lack any outlet or confidant.
Our biggest fears are the only thing holding us back from reaching our greatest potential. What if you were able to talk them out and allow someone to help you work through them sans any judgment or embarrassment?
I know I am starting to look for people and ways to come to grips with the fears I have in my life. In fact, writing has become one of them.
If Superman were to look at the world today, what wrongs would he want to make right?
There’s way too much uncertainty and unrest in the world today. I have to assume even Superman would be overwhelmed with all there is to fix in the world. But it seems to me an interesting exercise to ponder what Superman would want to fix if he/she were actually real.
Billions of people around the world still don’t have clean drinking water and live on $1 a day. There are millions of people in the U.S. who are searching for employment opportunities, maybe Superman could think of ways to solve both third world and first world employment problems. In fact, right down the street in Silicon Valley there are people starving and homeless, yet young startup founders are asking investors to give them millions of dollars so they can build yet another way to share photos and send a short message to someone else – all requiring people own the latest expensive smartphones.
How about terrorism? How could he create something to curb the urge and the need for people to inflict pain and suffering on others? And what about the financial challenges every country seems to be under now? Don’t you think he could get creative enough to help out? I bet there’s a lot more for Superman to fix, right?
Your unique reflections on the above will indeed bring out the entrepreneur in you. I guarantee it.
Nick Hughes is CEO of Seconds, a mobile payments startup located in Seattle, WA. He also writes at SoEntrepreneurial.com and you can follow him on twitter @jnickhughes. If you are interested in your story being told here, feel free to reach out to me.
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