Every man/woman comes to a point in their life when they realize everything has a cost. Not a monetary cost. We come to realize there’s a toll for every action we take. Some heavier than others, but they’re relevant nonetheless. Nothing in this world goes unpaid for. Nothing. Somebody somewhere, usually there’s a cost to yourself, will pay for what’s been done or the outcome of what’s been done.
I’m in the health and fitness world so we’ll use the easy example first. We have a strong belief that committing time, the length and depth of that time depends on the person, in the gym or doing fitness related things will add years to your life. It is no secret and many would agree: investing in yourself and your well-being from a health perspective will surely provide you better quality of life now and in the future and add quality years to the back end of your life.
We don’t always recognize the weight of that idea and the cost associated. Say for example I commit to spending one simple hour in the gym 5 days/week without fail for the foreseeable future. I refuse to concede that hour of my day because I value what it will bring me both in my immediate future and in later years. This is a solid argument for why you should commit to the gym and a good practice to incorporate in your daily/weekly schedule. No one would blame you for pursuing this. In pursuing that commitment you turn down early nights off now and then from work for date night or even free mornings for breakfast with the spouse, weekend trips or activities with friends because they’re leaving on a Friday and you have to go to the gym, you never indulge in desert because it would harm your commitment to fitness, and you miss out on fun times with your kids because of the hyper focus on your hard-earned well-being.
We’ve come to a fork in the road. Yes, I want to earn my fitness and reap the rewards I know will come. No, I don’t want to give up my life for it. So, I’m left a choice. In what way do I balance out my priorities so as to add years to my life, but add life to my years lived simultaneously. One could argue that having a hyper focus on getting your one hour workout accomplished, never indulging in non-compliant foods, and potentially missing out on the happenings around you does not add life to your years. In fact, you probably chose to pause life in those years for the sake of adding more to the back end when you could have simply lived more in that same time. I think we can see that the cost doesn’t solely fall on the individual in question, but the people around him/her as well (i.e. spouse, children, friends, etc.).
The second example I like is in work life. It is commonplace nowadays to define oneself in ones work. Your legacy in the workplace is often thought of as your life’s work. Again, nothing wrong with this. In fact, many would argue it to be a noble cause and give a small golf clap in recognition of such ambition. There is, though, another tier to that thought process. What if my life’s work uber saturates my time, so much so that it dominates my life and leaves room for little else? The upside is obvious. There’s great reward in what the individual does, hence their commitment in the first place. Monetarily, “I make great money so I can take care of my family like I want to both now and in the future and I can have nice things and provide nice things for my family”. Education, housing, expensive vehicles, random goods, etc.
Yes, you are earning and creating great things for yourself and the people you care about, but at what cost? That money comes at the all-important cost of your time. You never get to attend the week night sports events for your kids, your relationship with your significant other has seen better days, and your health is little more than a joke. Obviously I’m assuming somebody’s values. Having others are okay all the same. Regardless, you get the idea. Letting one thing dominate your time leaves none of that time for the things you’re doing that for in the first place. One hell of a conundrum I’d say.
I know someone is already jumping out of their chair climbing through the screen to throat punch me and rip my head off because I’m making assumptions. I would go as far to say those folks are not in the right place to hear what I’m saying. It’s not about the specifics in your values or pursuits. It’s not that any one person’s pursuits are on or off base. The reality is that we all have people and things we care about. We all find passion in something. Letting those passions absorb your life can be a good thing. Just make sure they’re not robbing you of your life. If they are you have a decision to make and a heap to dig through.
So, the decision is this. How do I decide between more life or more years? Can I balance the two? Can I bias one slightly every now and then? How do I recognize when I’m leading astray? No one can answer those questions for you but you. And so goes one of life’s greatest mysteries.