If We Were Vampires
You are not immortal. Time is finite. Well, yours at least.
“When my ship comes in, my dream is to…”
“If I win the lottery, I will...”
“When I sell my startup to Google, I am totally going to…”
Talk to most anyone, and they can, without a moment’s hesitation, regale you with their epic and grand plans for when they are flush with cash and money is no concern. It is when people are most honest about what they hope to get out of their brief time on this Earth.
No, seriously. If you only believe you can only pursue true happiness when a life-changing (and most likely not to happen) windfall occurs, then you go idly through life. Unfulfilled.
How sad. And completely unnecessary.
Let’s do a little exercise. Grab a pen and paper; I’ll wait.
Now that you are properly armed, I want you to write down your wild, money-is-no-object fantasy – no matter how ridiculous or unattainable you think it is. You know, that one you think about each time the jackpot hits an obscene amount or you when conjure up that unicorn-level startup idea.
If you scrawled, “Live on my own private island made of gold”, you might need to rethink your goals, and perhaps, life choices. But my guess is that there is some version of your fantasy that can be done right now. Like today or this week or within a few months.
Now, let’s find out what that is.
I want you to take a good, hard look at what you wrote and break it down into its core components. Ask yourself what is at the very root of my dream? This might take some real thought and reflection, but certainly you can find the beat behind your life’s soundtrack. It has to be actionable in the near term, so try to take it to its most elemental level. Something that can be summarized in seven words or less.
Now you have something we can work with. There is certainly some version of this that you can weave into your already busy schedule. It will just take a little planning and, most likely, a slight narrowing of scale to set this in motion.
Think of this as your side hustle, but for fulfillment, not funds. This is your side happy.
AN ASIDE: The ‘side hustle’ has crept into our vernacular and is becoming a widely tossed around term. For those hearing it for the first time, it is an endeavor other than your full-time employment that generates income. To wit, if you are an accountant by day and seller-of-crafts-on-Etsy by night, you have a side hustle whether you knew it or not.
When people talk of their side hustle, they do so with passion. It is a priority for them. No matter how busy their schedule, how overcrowded the day, they will make time to get it done. Because it is important to them.
If only people would channel the same focus, effort and energy into seeking and layering happiness into their lives. But, we tend to think in absolutes: I am or I am not. Being happy is not a destination; it is a process. One that requires frequent exercise – even if it is just a quick walk around the block – else it will atrophy and possibly be lost to the ether.
All it takes is intentionality, effort and a little creativity.
Let’s go back to your list to lay out the foundation for your side happy. Start small. This will be an iterative process, so be patient and let it build. Each small action, every effort will take you one step closer towards that larger goal.
For me, my distilled side happy objectives are focused around opportunity creation. Two simple words open to broad interpretation. That’s good, as it allows me wide margins in which to meet my goals. In practice, my near-term focus is around early childhood education, leveraging entrepreneurship to change trajectories for convicted felons and being an advisor and mentor to early-stage startups.
Each action towards scratching these itches is small and much more targeted than in my wildest-dream vision, but each time I volunteer in prison or for every moment across a table with a founder seeking guidance, I am adding drops to my fulfillment bucket.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Before you know it, your bucket begins to fill. Over time, the drops become bigger as the time and resources available to you change. Or maybe, it is just the sheer force of momentum. But know that it is not about how full it becomes. Rather, revel in the fact that it is no longer empty, waiting for some future unknown to come true.
My long-term plans are much more grand and far-reaching in scope than what I can accomplish now with the time and limited resources at my disposal. But today – this very instant – I am accumulating the moments and experiences that collectively feed my soul, have a direct impact on myself and others and make me happy.
Where will you find your fulfillment? What are your seven words or less? What tiny thing can you layer on right now to set this journey in motion?
I want you to go out there and be happy. Even it is only on the side.
If We Were Vampires by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
This is an incredibly thoughtful love song, if you can believe it. And not the sickly sweet ‘let me describe my love for you’ kind, but the acknowledgement that time is fleeting and how we approach our relationships matters. We are not immortal, so every moment counts. As Jason sings, “Maybe time running out is a gift. I’ll work hard to the end of my shift, and give you every second I can find.” Come on; that is just beautiful.